Friday, 27 January 2012

Leatherworking Equipment

So, my workshop is pretty well stocked right now, but stemming from my leatherworking course there are still some things I'll need to get to be fully functional now that I'm starting to get into more stamping, carving and dyeing. So, mostly for my own benefit, I'm starting a list (in no particular order):

1) Rubber cement
2) Coffee can for storing bottle of rubber cement (apparently helps stop the lid from getting stuck)
3) Rotary cutter
4) A couple of plastic containers for storing my water/carving solution mixture
5) Plastic bowl/tray for water/carving solution
5) Good quality sponges that won't scratch leather
6) Some basic 3-d stamps (letters, period looking designs etc)
7) Jewelers rouge
8) Tracing paper

Probably more to come for the list as we get further into the class.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Leather Carving Class - Day 2

Well, another interesting class this week and I'm increasingly happy I decided to sign up for this. Just the basic instruction on how to use the tools, what tools should be used for what, and tips on what not to do (or buy) are going to be really helpful.

Today, we started to look at the effects that you can create using the basic stamping tools, how to use both 2-D and 3-D stamps, plus we started learning how to use the swivel knife.

We made a quick coaster using pre-cut leather rounds as a way to do some patterns using the basic camouflage tool, and then put a 3-D stamp in the middle (mine was a fleur-de-lis). We also saw the difference for stamping between the inexpensive leather that came in our kit (it was apparently from Mexico) and the better quality scraps we are using (apparently they are from Brazil). The better quality leather made a much cleaner and more detailed impression.

After that, we moved on to our main project for the course, which is a luggage tag. We started out using rubber cement to stick the leather to a piece of cardboard (the thin leather circle would get out of shape from the impact of the stamp if the cardboard wasn't holding it into shape). We then copied our pattern from the tracing paper (which we had prepared as homework) onto the leather and cut along the lines using the swivel knife.

Once the lines were cut out, we started using the camouflage tool to start filling in some detail on the pattern.

Next week, we will apparently be using the pear shader and the beveler to add more depth to the image. We're supposed to try them out over the course of the week so we get an idea of how they work. Our book has some exercises to work on too.

Couple of notes that I need to remember:

1) Need to watch the depth of my cuts using the swivel knife. Mine were too shallow. A couple of them were a bit ragged on the curves too. Will need to work on my technique.

2) Don't recycle those cereal boxes anymore. They apparently are the perfect cardboard to use when working with thin leather to stop the shape from warping as you stamp.

3) I can totally see minimizing my use of chrome-tan leather now for SCA pouches and such (at least once I use up the piles I already have). Why not just buy nice thin veg tan, which I can then carve, stamp or dye to the right colour? It's a bit more expensive but I totally see what my judges at Kingdom A&S were talking about now.

4) Need to look into what stamping tools and techniques were done in period so I can figure out if what I'm learning would actually apply for the SCA (for authenticity sake at least).

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Leather Carving Class - Day 1

So yesterday was the first night of my leather carving class. We didn't do too much carving etc, but it was still a really helpful class.

We started out by watching a video from Hermann Oak Tannery to see the process that is used to make veg tanned leather - which can take as much as 3 months for each hide as compared to more modern types of tanning that can be done in a couple of days. It also covered how they grade the quality of each skin and a few other interesting tidbits about different kinds of leather. A part of the video is available on YouTube for those interested (

After that, we went down into the leather shop and got a tour of the different kinds of leather, what they are each best for, and how to recognize the different tanning methods and types of skins.

The last part of the class we started using some of our stamping tools and made a bookmark. He showed us how to prep the leather using water and carving solution, proper technique for using the basic stamping tools, and a sample of the variety of stamping tools available.

My bookmark turned out OK, and we will apparently be using it for later in the course when we play around with dying the leather, so that will be interesting.

For next class we have to trace out a pattern from one of our kits onto tracing paper so that we can jump right into the carving work next week.

So far so good. I picked it up fairly quickly and it looks pretty good for a first try. I can see how this could be used in my SCA work, although I'd have to look into what tools and techniques might have been used in period for the stamping and carving.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


Well, I have to say I have been slacking when it comes to my leatherwork since Kingdom A&S. I haven't even gone down into my work area what with Christmas and all. I had actually planned on doing some work over the holidays while I was off work but just never seemed to get around to it.

My time off from leatherwork is about to come to an end though. Next Wednesday my five week leather carving course from Zeli's starts. I should probably take a look at the books I bought for the course and make sure I have all the equipment pulled together.

Here's the class description:

Students will learn how to use the 7 basic tools of leather carving, leather terminology, Dyeing techniques, lacing, etc. Class is limited to 6 people.

I suspect not all of it will be applicable to making period leather goods but learning the basic techniques will be helpful I'm sure, even if its just so I have some idea of what people are talking about if I seek advice from more experienced SCA leatherworkers.

On an unrelated note, we are still waiting to receive our judging forms from Kingdom A&S. I know a number of people have received theirs, so I'm not sure why ours haven't come in. I got some good verbal feedback on the day but it will be nice to see if my judges added anything else to the forms.