>> Finish Categories
One of the reasons that leather is so popular is that in addition
to its great natural richness, it also takes well to a large variety
of finishes. There is literally something for every personís taste.
This first category of finishes is reserved for the finest hides.
Aniline dyes are tumbled in a vat with the hides, which permeate
the leather. This produces a transparent, natural color and the
full grain is visible.
However, Aniline hides do not have any protection from fading
or staining. Less common are wax and oil finishes of aniline hides.
Leather finished this way is referred to as “pull-up leather”
where the color changes as the leather is worn or used and stretched.
Semi-aniline finishes are used on the next grade of hides. A
sealant topcoat is added, which provides protection without losing
the softness of the leather or hiding the grain. Semi-aniline
finishes may also involve applying a pigment dye or metallic finish
over the surface. Sometimes this type of finished leather is referred
to as a hybrid.
Most other leather finishes are applied by using pigment, heat,
and mechanical means, or sometimes, the combination of all three.
This finish is a combination of physically “distressing”
the leather. For example, the process might include using a hairbrush
and then applying wipes of pigment to produce an uneven color.
The goal is to make an item look old or worn.
Another way to distress leather is to spot it with water and
then as it dries, it will shrink slightly giving it a pinched
look. If you prefer, you can simply wear it and let nature take
Techniques used for embossing as well as painting and tooling
were developed by Spanish craftsmen in the 16th and 17th Centuries.
Embossing leather consists of a process in which a design is added
to leather by pressure as a way of altering or correcting the
surface, resulting in uniform imitation grain. Sometimes the embossed
grain pattern is referred to as “printed” leather.
While embossing can add a decorative touch to leather, at times,
this process can be used to disguise marks or scars.
The embossing process will vary somewhat depending on the material
or type of leather being used, as well as the design or pattern.
Typically, the leather would be pressed between a pair of dies
that are designed to adapt to the hardness and depth of the leather.
Then, a die is used to stamp the design into the leather while
wet. Now, keep in mind that embossing leather is different from
chasing, carving, repousse, or tooling.
Other ways of embossing do not require equipment, just a few
simple tools. For example, to carve your initials, start with
the leather item and make sure it has is a vegetable tanned tooling
leather since chrome tanned hides are used in many craft projects
but will not work in this scenario.
To practice, get a scrap piece of leather, get it moist, and
then use anything you having lying around such as a butter knife,
to press a design into the leather. As the leather begins to dry,
you will be able to see how the embossed design looks.
One of the most popular methods for embossing leather is to use
an embossing wheel. These wheels are made from metal and have
a handle for ease of use. The metal wheel has a
permanent design such as scrolling, lettering, flowers, geometric
shapes, and so on. Again, with the leather being damp, you take
these wheels and roll them on the underside of the hide onto the
of the leather you want embossed. As the leather dries, the design
is then raised on the right side of the hide.
Embossing wheels can be purchased on the Internet from leather
shops, at hobby stores, and some stationary stores. The wheels
themselves range in size from one to four inches, averaging about
two and one-half inches. These wheels are quite affordable so
you can mix and match if you like.
Glazed leather is polished using heated rollers, which also results
in stiff leather with a lustrous finish.
Metallic / Pearlized
Metallic and pearlized finishes considered “delicate”.
This process involves spraying on a coating and then often using
foil to create a shiny or mother-of-pearl type finish to the leather.
Many women go nuts over this look, as it is very chic.
Patent leather is made by alternating coats of daub and varnish,
and drying them at a warm temperature. These steps combine to
give patent leather a hard, shiny finish. Patent leather, which
was introduced around 1800, is a leather finish rather than a
type of leather.
The patent leather finish results in a glossy shine and gives
the leather a hard surface texture compared to unfinished leather.
To accomplish this, three steps are followed:
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