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|Leather and Leather Goods|
is a material created through the tanning of hides, pelts and skins of
animals, primarily cows. Leather is a very important clothing material,
and its other uses are legion. Together with wood, leather formed the
basis of much ancient technology. Leather with the fur still attached is
simply called fur.
Alum-tanned leather is tanned using aluminium salts mixed with a variety of binders and protein sources, such as flour, egg yolk, etc. Purists argue that alum-tanned leather is technically "tawed" and not tanned, as the resulting material will rot in water. Very light shades of leather are possible using this process, but the resulting material is not as supple as vegetable-tanned leather.
Rawhide is made by scraping the skin thin, soaking it in lime, and then stretching it while it dries. Like alum-tanning, rawhide is not technically "leather", but is usually lumped in with the other forms. Rawhide is stiffer and more brittle than other forms of leather, and is primarily found in uses such as drum heads where it does not need to flex significantly; it is also cut up into cords for use in lacing or stitching, or for making dog toys.
Boiled leather is a hide product (vegetable-tanned leather) that has been hardened by being immersed in hot water, or in boiled wax or similar substances. Historically, it was used as armour due to its hardness and light weight, but it has also been used for book binding.
Chrome-tanned leather, invented in 1858, is tanned using chromium sulfate and other salts of chromium. It is more supple and pliable than vegetable-tanned leather, and does not discolor or lose shape as drastically in water as vegetable-tanned. More esoteric colors are possible using chrome tanning.
Brain-tanned leathers are exceptionaly absorbent of water. They are made by a labor-intensive process which uses emulsified oils (often those of animal brains) and which has not been industralized. They are known for their exceptional softness and their ability to be washed.
leather—can be oiled to improve its water resistance. This supplements
the natural oils remaining in the leather itself, which can be washed
out through repeated exposure to water. Frequent oiling of leather, with
mink oil, neatsfoot oil or a similar material, keeps it supple and
improves its lifespan dramatically.
Corrected-Grain leather, also known as Top-Grain leather, is fuzzy on one side and smooth on the other. The smooth side is the side where the hair and natural grain used to be. The hides, which are made from inferior quality raw materials, have all of the natural grain sanded off, and an artificial grain applied. Top grain leather generally must be heavily painted to cover up the sanding and stamping process.
Suede is an interior split of the hide. It is "fuzzy" on both sides. Suede is less durable than top-grain. Suede is cheaper because many pieces of suede can be split from a single thickness of hide, whereas only one piece of top-grain can be made. However, manufacturers use a variety of techniques to make suede appear to be full-grain. For example, in one process, glue is mixed with one side of the suede, which is then pressed through rollers; these flatten and even out one side of the material, giving it the smooth appearance of full-grain. Latigo is one of the trade names for this product.
Other less-common leathers
Patent leather is leather that has been given a high gloss finish. The original process was developed in Newark, New Jersey by inventor Seth Boyden in 1818. Modern patent leather usually has a plastic coating.
Shagreen is a rough and grainy type of untanned leather, formerly made from a horse's back, or that of a wild ass, and typically dyed green. Shagreen is now commonly made of the skins of sharks and rays.
Vachetta leather is used in the trimmings of luggage and handbags, popularized by Louis Vuitton. The leather is left untreated and is therefore susceptible to water and stains. Sunlight will cause the natural leather to darken in shade, called a Patina.
There are two other descriptions
of leather commonly used in speciality products, such as briefcases,
wallets, and luggage.
Napa leather, or Nappa leather, is extremely soft and supple, and is commonly found in higher quality wallets, toiletry kits, and other personal leather goods.
The following are not 'true'
leathers, but contain leather material.
Bonded Leather , or "Reconstituted Leather" is not really a true leather but a man-made material composed of 90% to 100% leather fibers (often scrap from leather tanneries or leather workshops) bonded together with latex binders to create a look and feel similar to that of genuine leather at a fraction of the cost. Bonded leather is not as durable as other leathers, and is recommended for use only if the product will be used infrequently. One example of bonded leather use is in Bible covers.
Leather is sold in a variety of
thicknesses. In some parts of the world top-grain thicknesses are
described using weight units of ounces. Although the statement is in
ounces only, it is an abbreviation of ounces per square foot. The
thickness value can be obtained by the conversion:
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