What exactly is leather crafting? When did the craft originate and who first discovered how to preserve, dye, and decorate leather for the extreme multitude of uses that we enjoy today? Let us take a journey through time to learn more about this ancient skill.
Terms and Definition of Leather Crafting
Merriam-Webster defines leatherwork as, "articles made from leather". These works are fabricated by individuals with a passion for expressing creativity utilizing leather-based materials. There are different interchangeable terms for a person who creates items using leather including; leather crafter, leather worker, leather carver, leather maker, leather artist, and leather smith.
The Beginning of Leather Preservation and Crafting
It is estimated that leather tanning and crafting have been utilized for well over 10,000 years. Crafting items from tanned leather using plant, mineral, and fat-based methods started in the Stone Age around 8,000 BC and is still being used today. Early records of leather crafts date back to 1300 BC. Also, the Ancient Greeks used leather-crafted garments and sandals around 1200 BC.
In fact, the earliest leather workers in existence are believed to be women. For instance, in colder climates men would collect hides, remove the hair with knives or stone scrapers, beat the skins, then soften them with urine in preparation for crafting. Next, women would use their teeth to chew the hides until they were rendered malleable and treat them with fish oil or fat.
Leather Coloring and Ornamentation
The dyeing and ornamentation of leather is also an ancient practice utilized by many cultures around the world. Leather decoration and adornment followed instantaneously after leather tanning practices were mastered. In the beginning, leather coloring was achieved with the juice of selected native vibrant plants.
Early leather crafting techniques like stamping, gliding, and tooling originated in Asia. Leather cutting or cutting designs into the grain side of the leather, then driving it from the fleshy side, was a very popular method of ornamentation during the fourteenth century. Additionally, punching became a common technique to adorn plant-tanned leather. The term is derived from the word punzone, which is Italian for stamp. In this method, a specialized steel rod stamp is used to emboss the hide and create an imprint of a desired shape with the pressure or the percussion of the utilized punch tool.
It is obvious that leather crafting is a time-honored tradition both practiced and valued for thousands of years. The art of taking the hide from a deceased animal and creating something by hand that is useful, beautiful, and one-of-a-kind, is often undervalued in today's fast-paced world filled with automated manufacturing. Each and every one of Bientro, LLC's Handmade Leather Goods takes hours to produce, and all of our handcrafted items are individually exclusive. Please visit our website today and support our passionate leather artists while acquiring a truly unique gift for yourself or, for that special person in your life. Whether it is a handbag, wand holder, key ring, eye patch, mask, wallet, or any other of our fine items, our customers are guaranteed to receive a quality made domestic and International leather product based on time-honored crafting techniques thatares as affordable as it is original.