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Wet your Leather and wet it good!

September 22, 2017

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Wet your Leather and wet it good!

September 22, 2017

 

 

 

 

Usually that's a saying all of us leather workers cringe at. It reminds us of people who don't really take care of their leather goods and bring them to us crusty, cracked, hardware falling out and stitch lines hanging on for dear life. But there is a method here to the title and I'm talking about casing. Casing your leather is one of the big mysteries of working leather we all deal with , as beginners and pros since so many factors come into play.  I'm going to do my best here to clear it all up and get casing under your control  no matter what the conditions.  

 

First things first, water.  Always use a water filter no matter where you think your water is coming from. In the city you have massive amounts of chlorine, in the country you have run off from farms and fertilizers,  in super rural areas you can have an over load of copper and iron. All of which are horrible for casing leather with.  All of the above will alter the state of your leather, from giving you an unknown squeak when you cut lines,

to leaving you with a resist  to dyes and oil you never expected.   Using a good water filter is the beginning to getting smooth cuts with any swivel blade that's sharpened, and great results with color and finishing after.  I use a 4 stage reverse Osmosis that in the 4th stage adds proper  levels of minerals back in , you can find them for around $200 online.  No metal bowls, please, not even stainless , the metal will leach into your sponge and water.  Use a plastic or glass bowl, I use plastic since I usually knock into it while reaching for my coffee .  Speaking of,  always have coffee at hand its an important ingredient to any artist's bag of tricks. 

 

If you sponge or use the sink your results will be the same of course, unless you're using a hide conditioner additive. Be careful with these, anymore than a few drops and your hide will stay wet forever, it'll become overly soft and not hold tooling leaving you

with beveler marks and art that looks like summer roadkill.  Ivory Liquid soap in a pinch works the same. Its the glycerin you want.  If you use the sink pass the top under the water 2-4 times until the surface color is evenly dark, don't hold it there pass it under like you're passing your hand over a candle flame. About that speed.  Do the same with the back side. The back side will hiss and bubble and get warm, that's when you know the water is going where you want it.  Its the same process with sponges, my preferred method.  Sponging though, as you pass the sponge , squeeze it , making sure the color gets evenly dark, on both sides. Don't forget to case your edges too, they will pull lots of

water inside.  At this point you can leave it out or bag it up if you want .   Watch it at this point from time to time,if you see it gets light super fast? if it does, Case it again using half the amount of water/passes as the first.  It should come back to color evenly not with light spots on the surface.  Each hide is different so each one has its own attitude towards water.  Light weight hides sponge only, test a small piece and see how it reacts until you're used to working with it. Anything under a 5 0z  sponge only if your tooling, if you're forming and shaping, go ahead and dip it until the bubbles stop.  For tooling pieces that are half hide or 3/4 of a hide in size don't use this method. To tool something big its a completely different process, like I used on the Continuum Center Piece Table. I'll cover that in  a future post.