Thursday, June 10, 2021



  1. If you store leather in the dark, it will not darken.
    Well, it is not light, or sunlight, or UV light that darkens leather.  
    It is air - oxygen - it is the tanins in the leather that oxidizes with its contact to air, that turns a darker color.
  2. Oil makes leather darker.
    No, oil might accelerate the oxidation process.
    When all the tannins have oxidized, you can add as much oil as you want, the leather will not go darker.
  3. Leave leather in the sun to make it go darker.
    Well, it might just accelerate the oxidation a bit, but it is still oxidation that darkens the leather.
  4. Saddle-Lac, NeatLac, Resolene will prevent the darkening of vegtan.
    No, all it might do is temporarily seal off the leather fibers from the air around it.  As the finish wears through and the fibers get exposed again, they will oxidize once more.

Here is an example of two sample sheets made about two years apart -  you can see how much the leather oxidized under Resolene.  The newer one will oxidize too, but nobody can say how much - that will depend on the recipe used to tan the leather - the more tannins, the darker it will oxidize.

Long ago in a guild we experimented with a complete UV light blocking finish we got from France.   It was a bit slower, but the leather with that finish on, still turned darker.

Then one day I saw a kit that had been hanging at the very back of a peg on the wall at a Tandy store.   The leather of the kit was the normal light color you expect in a vegtan.
Except for a very small round spot that had darkened - it was right next to s small hole in the plastic.   The leather darkened only in that one little spot.
This made me think that it was not light that had any effect - that whole piece of leather was exposed to the exact same amount of light.   The only difference was the exposure to air.
I asked the question on the forum of the Leather Chemists of America, and they confirmed for me that it is oxygen that oxidizes the tannins in the leather that makes for the darker shade and not light.

There is an interesting aspect to this:
When leather is exposed to sunlight for too long, it bleaches to a very light unnatural color.
And the moment you touch that leather with water, it immediately gets to its darker oxidized color again.  
You can see that on this sign that hung in a store window for a long time and got afternoon sun every afternoon.   All I did around the buffalo head was to paint it with clean water (and when I took this picture, that water had dried totally).


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Bag Strap

 My friend Lauren introduced me to this strap design.

I will add a diagram soon as well as a photo, but in the mean time, here is the video:


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Mottled Effect

 There are some beautiful projects out there where people have created a mottled effect - some with shaving cream (see Marbling) and with many other techniques.

This inspired me to try too and it came out so nice that I just had to share.

My first attempt was to dab at the leather with a piece from an old shirt:

The last few dabs were with a dark brown and made it look a bit dirty here and there.

Next I used red, light brown and dark brown, dabbed on with a piece of trimmed sheep wool.

This was the look I was after!

I decided to make a brown only one and see which one would best fit the center piece of the valet tray it would be part of.

I chose the brown one and here is how the application of a conditioner made the color pop (I used dubbin for the conditioner, but something like Dr Jackson's Hide Rejuvenator or Aussie would be just as good).


Then came the video:

And this is the pieces after the fun was done:

I will add photos of the completed projects....


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Freehand Weave

 The first step is the design the weave - well described in the video.
Transfer it to the leather, cut line with the swivel knife and bevel the ribbons as each of them dip below the others.

The leather is a milled Sienna side from Tandy - look at the beautiful texture!

Then you employ the 6900 stamp to enhance the corners as shown in the video - this is what makes this weave so special and easy:  two stamping tools only for the weave.

Here is the video:

This shows the veiner used for the border:


And this is after blue purple on the border and covering everything with brow Hi-Lite stain:

Have fun with your own variations!

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Stitching ClampFree

 Classic Saddlestitch is done with the project clamped in a stitching pony or stitching clam, and the awl and one needle held in one hand and the other needle in the other hand.

If you do not have something to clamp the work in and your project is small enough, you can achieve the same stitch freehand.

The video shows how.


In the video I mention finger gloves / finger cots.  Here is what the packaging looks like.  I cannot remember where I bought them.

Here is a more comprehensive post about hand-stitching, if you want to kick it up a notch:
Hand Stitching Leather

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Swivel Knife Blades

 A lot can be said about swivel knife preference and quality, etc..

All I want to do here is show the different blades that leatherworkers might come across.

I acquired the crystal blade in a batch of old tools that were used in the seventies.  Here is an ad in the Leather Craftsman published in January 1960.