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Full text of "Leather work"

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Xeate Morfe 



BY 



immixtii OTilsion 




Published by 

iH. p. WiUcox 

180 William Street'; 
New ; 'York ' " ' 



Copyright 1908 
M. B. WiUcox 
New York 




CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

Foreword .------5 

Kinds of Leather and Their Treatment - - 7 
Design - -- - - - - 8 

Tracing and Design ------ 10 

Pyrography - - - - - - -11 

Carving and Incising - - - - --12 

Engraving - - - - - - 14 

Modeling and Embossing ----- 16 

Stamping and Tooling - - - - 19 

Cut Work - ----- 21 

Applique - - - - - - 22 

Inlay or Mosaic ----- 24 

Coloring and Gilding - - - - - 25 

Illustrations ------ 27 

Patterns ------ 28 



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AH Leather mentioned in this 
book, may be obtained from 
M. B. WILLCOX 
J 80 William St., New York 



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FOREWORD 



LEATHER has since primitive times contributed so 
generally to the needs of man that to tell all the 
phases of its history would be to retrace the slow, 
laborious steps by which it rose from purely 
utilitarian uses to its high position as an art 
medium in medieval times, and to its general 
adaptation to decorative purposes in the present. Such a study 
would be most interesting to the general art student as well as 
the craftsman, and would well repay the time given it, but 
the scope of this book does not admit of more than a brief 
summary of the progress of leather before passing to the 
description of the work itself. 

At first we find the unshorn skins of animals forming a 
large part in the clothing of man, in his carpets and hangings. 
Different kinds were often sewn together, sometimes irregularly 
and sometimes to form a pattern. The next step was the 
removal of the hair and decoration by burning with hot stones 
and sand. A little later, colors and metal ornaments and fanciful 
lacing in the method of joining were added. From this the art 
of leather-work grew steadily. Those wonderful people, the 
Egyptians, applied it to the straps binding mummies, to their 
sandals, low cases, shields, and chariot furnishings, while the 
historic Boadicea is said to have possessed and worn a mantle 
whose seams were covered with embroidery. Early Grecian 
shields were made of cowhide and covered with metal, and the 
knights of medieval times carried those with leather-emblazoned 
covers. 

The Venetians came to be celebrated for their leather wall 
hangings, rich in gilt, color and stamping. Chests for ecclesias- 
tical vestments, marriage chests, and panels, show the addition 

5 ' I , ' ' ■ . 



of iron bands and silver or copper-headed nails. It is recorded 
that even the shoes of the Venetian women were patterned to 
show caste. 

Flanders, Spain, Portugal and England all produced work 
similar to that of Italy, and to the list of its uses added hangings 
for beds, bedspreads and coverings for chairs. 

But while the art of leather work had been making such 
strides, the growing needs of civilization were encouraging a 
dangerous rival in tapestries. In the reign of Louis XIV 
Gobelin and other French tapestries succeeded in largely dis- 
placing leather until that necessity which permits nothing useful 
to art to be lost revived it, and in the great arts and crafts 
enthusiam which is now sweeping the country leather-work has 
a large following. 

The craftsman in leather must add to his acquaintance and 
appreciation of the art in leather-work an exact knowledge of 
the working properties of different kinds of leather. He must 
understand the principles of design and know how to apply them. 
He must be skilled in the processes and use of tools necessary 
to develop his designs. He must know the conditions under 
which the same kinds of leather are amenable to different 
processes. 

As this volume is intended for the worker, we shall take 
up in turn those subjects which will be of practical use to him. 



KINDS OF LEATHER AND THEIR TREATMENT 

Good leather is the first requirement of leather work. It 
may be sheep, cow, calf or pig skin, Morocco, Russia, horse, 
chamois or vellum, according to the object into which it is to 
be made and the method of decoration, but the leather should 
be the best of its kind. Inferior leathers finished in imitation 
of the better class leathers are not to be depended upon for 
working quality or for durability. The latter fact is dwelt upon 
in the reports made by certain committees whose privilege it 
is to inspect the leather book bindings in various libraries, 
museums and private collections. These men find that the 
leathers which have received the simplest processes in the 
tanning have best withstood the ravages of time, while the 
imitation leathers are in worse condition than any others. In 
this report Morocco is pronounced the most durable leather. 

There are various methods of decorating leather, such as 
burning, incising, modeling, embossing, stamping, cut-work, 
inlay, staining and gilding. Different leathers are suited to 
these methods of decoration. Ooze calf, sheep, goat and horse 
skins are adapted to burning. They are too malleable to model 
well and too thin to carve, but they may be stained or used in 
cut-work with very artistic effect. Cowhide with either grain 
or ooze surface, split cow, Russia calf and buff csdf are most 
successfully developed with incising, carving, modeling or 
stamping. Pigskin is generally made up without ornament, 
depending upon the elegance of the design for its attraction. 
Morocco responds best to gilding as done by bookbinders. 



DESIGN. 

As the terms "design" and "ornament" are often used 
synonymously it may be interesting to define their technical 
application. The term "design" is a general one, and applies 
to the plan and construction of the object; "ornament," to the 
decorative ornamentation added to beautify or embellish the 
design. The design determines the character of the ornament, 
and that ornament is most successful which is wholly dependent 
upon the design. 

In all branches of craft work we see many instances of 
failure to observe this balance, but in none does this defect 
produce more incongruous results than in leather-work. To- 
bacco pouches and men's wallets profusely decorated with 
naturalistic flowers, den pillows with Watteau landscapes, and 
belts with Teddy bears are some of the inconsistencies resulting 
from the desire for novelty and ignorance of the true relation 
of design and ornament. 

In designing a leather object the first question to be con- 
sidered is the use to which that object is to be put ; the second, 
the form best suited to that use; the third, the limitations of 
the material. 

Suppose a woman's handbag is the problem under discus- 
sion. Is the bag to do general service for the general w^oman 
or is it intended to complete the costume of an individual? If 
the former, it must be large and roomy to meet successfully 
the varied demands which will be made upon it. It must be 
built of leather which will harmonize with the fabric ordinarily 
chosen for street wear, wear well and not soil easily. It must 
have a catch at once secure and easily manipulated. If, on the 
other hand, a costume bag is being planned, the style and 
material of the gown will govern the design and choice of 
leather for the bag. A strictly tailored gown will demand a 
severe design and smooth surface leather like Russia calf or 
pigskin, while semi-dress seeks to hide the useful qualities of 
its accessories under graceful curves and ooze finished leathers. 
In making a costume bag the wearer must be thought of. A 
tall, statuesque woman must not be made to appear ridiculous 
by dangling what looks like a child's purse, or her petite sister 
to stagger under the weight of a miniature portmanteau. 

Having decided upon the design and leather the next step 
is the ornament. This may be naturalistic, conventional or 
geometric, according to the style of design and kind of leather. 
Returning to the handbags for illustration, the general utility 

8 




1 Russia calfskin table cover 






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2 Handbag of Russia calfskin 




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3 Belt and h^^ oi modeled calfskin 









4 Costume bags 





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6 Goatskin workbag 




8 Russia calfskin workbag 



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7 Calfskin medicine case 




10 Carved Cowhide umbrella stand 9 Calfskin card case; incised and stamped 




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12 Modeled and embossed calfskin book cover 




11 Portfolio of tan Russia 





14 Address book 



15 Memorandum pad 











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22 Gray horse Hide Head rest 




24 Linen belt and bag 




25 Portieres of arras or inOnkV^clol^'h ^\ ] 











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27 Chair seat and back of carved, gilded and stamped cowhide 





28 .Callskin screen modeled and stained 



bag built on simple lines and of smooth surface leather will be 
most consistently decorated with a conventional or goemetric 
pattern done in carving, modeling or stamping, while the 
dressier bag invites naturalistic or modified conventional treat- 
ment developed with cut-work, pyrography, staining or a com- 
bination of these processes. 

For those who are especially interested in learning design- 
ing there are excellent schools and text-books for their instruc- 
tion, but the skill necessary for successful work is based upon 
a fine sense of proportion and the ability to draw, and can be 
acquired only after much study and practice. There are many 
craftsmen skilled in the mechanical processes of leather-work 
who are hampered by their inability to design, and yet have not 
the time for study that they may overcome their difficulty. It 
is with the aim of assisting these that we have appended a few 
pages of designs applicable to a variety of objects suitably made 
of leather. 



TRACING THE DESIGN. 

As the tracing of the design is a preliminary to all leather- 
work, let us consider it before taking up the different processes 
used in decoration. 

The design should be drawn upon some fairly tough paper, 
such as thick manila or bond, or architect's linen. If it is to be 
transferred to leather with an ooze finish, such as sheepskin, 
goatskin, kid or ooze calf, the leather should be spread upon a 
hard surface, such as a table top or drafting board, and the 
pattern tacked upon it with pins driven in vertically close to its 
upper edge or in the lines of the ornament. Placed in this 
manner the pinholes will not show in the completed article, 
having been either cut away or obliterated in the working. The 
lower edge of the pattern should be left free, so that it may be 
lifted to watch the progress of the tracing. 

An agate stylus, a hard pencil, or a sharpened orange-wood 
stick may be used for tracing. The stylus should be held like 
a pencil for drawing and made to trace with considerable pres- 
sure all the lines of the design. Retracing should be avoided, 
as it produces a double line difficult to eradicate in the working. 
Where a long curved line is to be traced the stylus should be 
drawn over its whole length without stopping, as frequent 
pauses will give a jerky appearance and destroy the beauty of 
the full sweep. Straight lines may be traced accurately with 
the aid of a square or a metal-edged rule. 

Smooth-finished leathers, such as Russia calfskin and cow- 
hide, must be dampened before they will receive the imprint of 
the design. The leather is placed flesh side down upon a marble 
slab and its surface gone over with a damp sponge, soft cloth 
or cotton wad. The wetting at one time of the whole surface 
is imperative if water rings are to be avoided. Afterward, either 
for tracing or work, parts of the leather may be redampened 
without danger of these defacing marks. The leather should 
not be made so wet that the moisture penetrates to the under 
side or that pressure from the stylus brings it back to the 
surface. 

After the leather has been dampened the design is secured 
upon it and traced as described for soft finish leather. 



10 



PYROGRAPHY. 

Etching with hot tools was one of the eariiest methods of 
decorating leather. It is safe to say that fire-etching, or pyrogra- 
phy, as it is now called, would never have reached its present 
popularity — and, in many instances, abuse — if the laborious 
process of heating tools in a bed of coals were still necessary 
for its execution. But a fairly good pyrographic outfit, consist- 
ing of a platinum point set in a cork handle, rubber tube, bellows 
and bottle for benzine with an alcohol lamp for lighting, may 
be bought at any department store or artists' supply shop for 
a small sum, and the art of manipulating it is easily acquired. 

At first, care is necessary to sustain an even line and to 
avoid burning holes in the leather, but practice will teach the 
right hand to draw with the red hot point as fearlessly as with 
a pencil, while the left will come to regulate the bellows 
automatically. 

A variety of platinimi points is to be had, some curved, 
some straight, some coarse, others fine, but one point dex- 
terously handled will produce nearly the same result as several 
different points. Where economy of time is an item the fre-^ 
quent changing of points becomes a nuisance. 

The character of a line drawn with a pyrographic point is 
determined by the inclination of the handle. By inclining the 
handle slightly to the right and tracing lightly with the tip of 
the point, fine lines are produced; by inclining it so that the 
rounded part of the point comes in contact with the leather, a 
broad dark line is burnt, and dots and shading, often used for 
backgrounds, are made by touching lightly or rubbing the 
leather with the point brought to a high degree of heat. 

A complete mastery of the resources of the hot point will 
be found of incaculable value to the student of pyrography, 
enabling him to produce effects as subtle and convincing as the 
fine work of pen and ink etchers and raising his work far above 
the charge of mediocrity. 

The leathers best suited to this method of decoration are 
ooze calf, sheep, goat, horse, ooze finished cowskin and kid calf. 
French kid and the thinner grades of chamois will curl with the 
application of heat. 



II 



CARVING AND INCISING. 



Carving is the art of cutting through the surface of leather 
with sharp knives. Incising is a general term applied to shallow 
carving or to the preliminary process used in engraving and 
modeling. 

The success of carving depends upon the ability to cut to 
just the right depth; a too shallow incision is ineffective, while 
one too deep weakens the leather. The danger is in cutting 
clear through, thus spoiling a whole piece of work. 

Because of its difficulties of execution we do not see much 
wholly-carved leather, workers stri\dng for similar effects by 
less hazardous methods or else using carving incidentally and 
in combination with modeling, staining and stamping. 

Several knives with different shaped blades are generally 
included in the equipment for carving, although some craftsmen 
can so manipulate their leather with the left hand while cutting 
with the right that one knife does all the work. This requires 
no small amount of mechanical skill, and the ordinary worker 
will find at least two knives, one with a slanted and the other 
with a curved blade, none too many for his requirements. 
(Figure 1.) If he add to his list of tools a few gravers and 
gouges such as are used in carving metal and wood he will 
be able to give great diversity to his work. 





Figure J. Carving Knives 

Leather is prepared for carving in one of three ways. The 
method in use in the seventeenth century w^as to boil the leather 
gently for an hour, allow it to cool and partially dry, and carve 
it while still damp; later, soaking for three or four minutes in 
hot water was thought to loosen the fibers sufHciently, while 
the modern way is to merely dampen the leather thoroughly 
with a wet sponge or cloth. 

After the design has been transferred in the usual manner 
the leather is again dampened and smoothed flat upon the 
marble slab. Then an incising knife, held firmly with the fore- 
finger of the right hand well down upon the blade, the third 

12 



and fourth fingers resting upon the leather and guided by the 
first finger of the left hand, has its point inserted in one of the 
lines of the design and forced along this line, cutting as it goes. 
Always the knife should stop just short of the meeting of two 
lines, as two incised lines running into each other will leave a 
corner of leather which is apt to roughen or curl back with 
wear and present a ragged appearance. 

A vertical incision is made by forcing the blade into the 
leather at a right angle to its surface, and is the incision always 
used save when it is desired to turn the edge of the leather to 
imitate the lip of a shell, a leaf or the petal of a flower. In the 
latter case it becomes necessary to make a slanting incision to 
secure the extra amount of leather needed. Raised work of 
this kind is very effective when new, but it is not durable. 

No exact rule can be given for the depth of an incision, 
although for ordinary carving from a quarter to a third of the 
thickness of the leather is not too deep to affect its strength. 
When incising is the preliminary operation to heavy modeling 
it should be deep enough to separate the design well from the 
background and to make high relief possible. 



13 



ENGRAVING. 

Engraving is a modification of incising. It requires, in 
addition to the knives used for incising, a steel tool called an 
opener (Figure 2). An opener is made of quarter-inch tool bar 



Figure 2* Openers 

and measures about six or six and one-half inches. It is left 
broad in the center, to give a good grasp for the hand, and 
shaped to a dull point at one end and to a still duller point at 
the other. If much work is to be done a number of openers 
of varying sizes for engraving lines of different widths will be 
found necessary, and while they may be bought in the shops 
it is often more satisfactory as v^ell as economical to make the 
tools as the need for them presents itself. This is quite practical 
with a supply of tool bar, files and emery cloth. 

Having dampened the leather, traced and incised the design, 
the end of the opener is inserted in the incision and pushed 
along its entire length (Figure 4). The tool is held firmly in 




Figure 4. Opening 

the right hand in an almost vertical position, and the left hand 
is again used to steady and guide the right. By using pressure 
and going over a line several times the leather will grow dark 
and shiny, thus clearly defining the outline of a flat decoration. 
If the background is tO' be modeled to throw the ornament into 
relief, the opener should be guided along the incision, slanted 
in such a manner as to press down that side of the leather which 
is to be modeled into the background. 

A few trials on scraps will illustrate the necessity in 
engraved leather of making the incisions perfectly vertical by 
showing how the excess of material gained by a slanted cut will 
refuse absolutely to be raised by either the opener or modeler. 
Vertical and slanting cuts are shown in Figure 3. 

14 



Figure 3. 
a- Vertical cut b-SIanting cut raised 

Vertical cut opened* for leaf edge* 

By far the best color for an engraved line is that secured 
by the rubbing of the opener, but if the incision has been made 
so deep as to expose the inner substance of the leather in a light 
line it may be darkened with dye applied with a brush. 

Tinting is used quite extensively to complete the decoration 
on engraved leather, and when the colors are well chosen and 
carefully blended there can be no question but that it is an 
acquisition. 



15 



MODELING AND EMBOSSING. 

Modeling is the embellishment of leather with modeling 
tools (Figure 5). It may be accomplished in two ways: with 



Figure 5, Modeling Tools 

the outline of the design simply traced in with the stylus, or 
cut with an incising knife. The thick, close-grained leathers 
used for carving are also suitable for modeling, although thinner 
skins may be used if the design is traced than if it is incised, 
as cutting cdways weakens the leather. Calfskin is the most 
popular leather for modeling. 

Flat modeling is a very simple process and consists in 
"laying down" the background surrounding a design by rubbing 
over its surface with the ball of the spoon-shaped modeler 
(Figure 6). The leather is kept moist during this process, and 




Figure 6. Laying down the background 

w^hen it wrinkles under the pressure, as sometimes happens, the 
direction of the rubbing is changed. Under the combined 
influence of pressure and rubbing (the leather grows gradually 
glossy and dark, until, when the work is done, it has taken on 
a depth and richness of color which is most pleasing. 

Embossing or repousse is a phase of modeling a little more 
difficult than flat work. It is the bas-relief of leather work, and 
achieves its best success in the hands of those who have a 
knowledge of clay and wax modeling. 

The design is either traced or incised, and after the leather 
has been dampened the second time it is held in the left hand 
in such a position that the part to be raised is taut between the 
index finger and the thumb (Figure 7). A modeler with a ball- 

i6 




1 Portiere of 



velvet sK^eps^ii'-svitV a|>,pl^q'!;ie l«!Or<ler of the same reversec 




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3 Untrimmed sheepskin 




4 . Cedar cKest covered with, pax-.yt,d co-whide 



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5 AiVooden clock case cc^vej-cd with carved and stained Russia calfskin 




6 PilloNv of sheep, ^oat or ooze calfskin 




7 T-sventy-four inch ,t»ble mat of gray Russia calfskiij' ', , ' 









8 Gentleman's cufi case 



9 Collar bag 




10 Watchcase 





13 Pen-wiper or needlebook 




11 Shaving pad 



12 Penwiper 




14 Folding pKotograph frame representing the seasons 




15 Photograph frame 




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17 Photograph frame 




19 Magazahe ^cover 










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18 Memorandum pad 



22 Bookcover 





20 Magazine cover 



21 College bookcover 




23 Man's vallet 




Figure 7. Embossing 

shaped head is next rubbed backward and forward upon the 
back of the leather over the part to be thrown into relief. It 
is possible to make the relief quite high by redampening and 
much rubbing. 

When the leather has been shifted in the hand until the 
whole design has been developed it is laid, flesh side down, 
upon the marble, again dampened, and any flat modeling or 
stamping necessary to enhance the beauty of the design applied. 

If the design has been incised instead of traced the incisions 
are opened with the opener and their edges modeled into the 
background. 

Good calfskin will preserve low relief without padding, but 
high relief requires support if the design is to retain its shape. 
Wax may be used for this padding, or a paste made as follows: 
Soak an ounce of dextrine in warm water over night; grate or 
shave to fine shreds a pint of scrap leather; stir it into the 
dissolved dextrine and add a few drops of turpentine or oil of 
cloves. This paste should be of the consistency of soft model- 
ing wax. If it is too thick a little water is used to thin it, and 
if not thick enough the fault is remedied with more leather 
shavings. When large pieces of embossed leather, such as wall 
panels, chair backs and screens, are to be padded a mortar 
made of sifted sawdust, flour paste, fish glue and a few drops 
of turpentine is more practical than the dextrine paste. 

Preparatory to padding, the embossed leather is turned face 
downward upon the marble. The hollows are then filled with 
wax or paste, which is pressed and molded into them until it 
adheres to the leather. When the hollows have been filled a 
sheet of paper is spread over the leather and a thin board laid 
on top of the paper. With the padding thus guarded against 
displacement, leather, paper and board are firmly grasped at 
their edges and turned right side up upon the marble and a fine 
modeling tool used to correct all faults resulting from the 
improper distribution of the padding. From one to three days 
is not too long for thorough drying, during which time the 
work should not be disturbed for fear of loosening the paste 
and distorting the design. A piece of cheese cloth is finally 

17 



pasted over the back of the leather to strengthen the padding 
in its position, when the work may be handled without danger 
to its decoration. 

Modeling or embossing is rarely the sole ornament upon a 
piece of leather-work, either tinting, stamping, gilding, or all 
three being used in conjunction with it. This multiplication of 
processes is very interesting, and instead of detracting from the 
main process enhances it much as a suitable frame adds to a 
good picture. 



[S 



STAMPING OR TOOLING. 

Stamping is ornamentation with patterned tools. Its purest 
example is found in the work of the Mexicans, who have not 
only created and maintained the style of design peculiar to their 
work, but have reached a high efficiency in the making and 
handling of stamps. They use generally heavy calf or cow- 
skin, and manipulate it damp with cold tools and a hammer or 
mallet. Tliey use no dyes or bronzes (Figure 8). 



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Figure 8. Stamps 

The procedure for stamping is the usual one so far as the 
transfer of the design is concerned. The first step in the work- 
ing is to outline the design with a small stamp held pattern-end 
down upon the dampened leather and struck lightly with a 
hammer. Care must be taken to keep the leather in a state of 
even dampness and to hammer with uniform force or the 
imprints made by the stamp will be of varying depth and color. 

Opportunity for the exercise of creative ability comes when 
the outlining has been completed. In the best Mexican work 
we often find one design, either as a v/hole or in parts, repeated 
many times, but with such variety in the development that the 
effect is of different designs. 

Early Flemish, Portuguese and Spanish leather show 
stamping with gold leaf, bronzes, and the lavish use of color. 
The best modern tooled leather is worked in imitation of these 
ancient styles. 

A method of stamping, less familiar than those described, 
is done with stencil and press. It is used when a flat instead 
of a patterned design or background is desired, and while more 
or less mechanical in effect is useful when a saving in time is 
necessary or one design is to be duplicated a number of times. 

The design is drav^m upon heavy leather, cardboard or thin 
sheet metal and a stencil cut of either the design or its back- 
ground. The leather to be decorated is dampened and the 
stencil laid in position upon it. Leather and stencil are then 
placed in a heavy press and weight screwed down. Tiine is 
given the leather to dry, when it is removed from the press and 
the stencil lifted. The deep, smooth imprint left by the stencil 
may be bronzed, painted or left plain, as the worker may wish. 

19 



A similar stamping process is that in which the design is 
etched or gpraved upon heavy sheet copper and the etched lines 
filled with ink thickened with gimi arabic. The leather is 
slightly dampened, inverted upon the copper plate, and leather 
and plate put under heavy pressure. A colored design in low 
relief is the result of this treatment. 



20 



CUT-WORK. 

Cut-work is leather in stencil, and is most effective when 
combined with another kind of leather or another material. 

Simple designs, in which the parts to be cut out are well 
defined, produce better results than those having a great num- 
ber of small irregular spaces. When articles which are to receive 
hard wear, such as handbags, belts, magazine and book covers, 
or card cases, are under consideration, this suggestion as to 
design will prove of practical as well as artistic value. 

Smooth-finished leathers are good in combination with 
those having a suede finish, or leathers having the same kind of 
finish but of different colors. Silk, satin, vellum and tinted 
papers enter popularly into this work, especially in the making 
of articles in which the aim is semi-transparency. Lamp and 
candle shades come under this head. 

At least two sharp, pointed knives are required for cut- 
work. They may be similar in shape, but of different sizes. A 
soft wood board is also needed. A good leather paste is made 
by bringing to a slow boil a half pound of flour in two quarts 
of water and adding to the mixture w^hen cool an ounce of 
nitric acid, a dram of boric acid and a few drops of clove oil. 

After pressing in the design with the stylus the leather is 
laid dry upon the soft wood board, its edges secured with thumb 
tacks and the spaces cut out. The paste is next brushed lightly 
upon the wrong side of the leather, inverted upon its lining of 
leather, silk or paper, and v/eighted down. When the paste has 
dried the weight is lifted, and any surplus that has oozed out 
in the pressing is carefully picked off with a sharp point. 

An innovation in cut-work has been introduced recently in 
the use of Chinese embroideries. As these embroideries employ 
a wide range of color and much gold thread in even small 
designs they may be used as insets vdth almost jewel-like 
effects. 



21 



APPLIQUE. 

Applique is another treatment of leather decoration which 
calls for the use of different leather or leather with fabrics or 
wood. The process is just what its name suggests — the apply- 
ing of one material upon another by pasting, sewing, or riveting. 

In leather the most effective w^ork shows the combination 
of smooth and suede surfaces, or suede surfaces of different 
colors, and is the result of combining different kinds of leathers 
or the reverse sides of the same leather. For example, a Russia 
calfskin screen has its ornament of a conventional orange tree 
developed in ooze calfskin for the fruit, while the leaves, trunk 
and branches are of the modeled and stained Russia or of 
Morocco applique. 

Good results are obtained also by contrasting the two sur- 
faces of the same leather. A table cover of velvet sheep made 
suede side uppermost with a stencil border of the same, with 
the smooth side showing, illustrates this combination. Objects 
intended for use in offices, libraries, and halls are especially 
adapted to this treatment. 

There is generally a difference in the style of ornament 
designed for applique on fabric and that on leather, the first 
being less formal and inclining to the naturalistic, the second 
severe and strictly conventional. 

Two tracings are necessary in applique. One is made upon 
the material which is to serve as background and the other upon 
that out of "which the ornament is to be cut. Sometimes only 
certain parts of the ornament, such as the petals of a flower or 
the leaves of a plant, are to be in applique, the remainder being 
developed by some other method, as staining, modeling or carv- 
ing, if on leather, and needlework or painting if on fabric. 

After tracing the ornament, either as a whole or in parts, 
it is cut out with knives as for cut-work, and pasted, sewn or 
riveted upon the duplicate tracing on the background. In the 
case of floral ornament a little embellishment with the pyro- 
graphic point and stains will give character to an otherwise fiat 
appearance. In a pasted applique in geometric or severely con- 
ventional pattern a single line burnt close to the edges will 
define and strengthen the design, and a dark thread used in 
stitching will accomplish the same result for a sewn applique. 

Rivets add such a decorative note to leather applique that 
a rivet-set and brass and copper rivets are a valuable acquisition 
for any leather worker. The setting of rivets is very simple. 
First, the pieces of leather to be riveted are laid together and 

22 



holes punched in the places to be filled by the rivets. The shank 
of the rivet is pushed through the holes and the rivet eye slipped 
over it. Next the small then the large hole in the rivet-set is 
fitted upon the shank, metal and leather are forced together, and 
the shank end flattened v/ith a hammer. If an appearance of 
age is desired the rivets are oxidized with a weak solution of 
nitric acid. The acid should be applied before the rivets are 
set and in the open air, a^ the fumes are very injurious. 



23 



INLAY OR MOSAIC. 

Because of its extreme difficulty few craftsmen are willing 
to undertake leather-mosaic, especially since it may be imitated 
to a certain degree of success and with much less labor by the 
use of stains. 

Only thin leathers, such as Morocco and fine goatskin, are 
adapted to inlay and those designs which will be suitably 
developed in many colors. Two drafts are first made of the 
design — one on water color paper, the other on tracing paper. 
The first is painted to serve as a model for the mosaic, and the 
second is used to trace the design upon the background leather 
and the motifs for the insets. 

Using very sharp knives, the motifs are cut out of the 
different colored leathers and their edges pared (Figures 9 and 





Figare 9* Paring Knife Figure JO, Paring 

10). The corresponding spaces in the background are next cut 
out and the insets inserted in the spaces. The paring has left 
these bits of leather with slightly ragged edges, which in over- 
lapping will facilitate the joining. If, before beginning the 
.inlay, the background is pasted to a thin piece of muslin or linen, 
the task will be made much easier. When the work is finished 
a hot point run over the joinings will obliterate any unevenness. 
If this burnt line is gilded the brilliancy of the work will be 
greatly enhanced. 

Another way of inlaying is to carve the outlines of the 
design upon the background leather and open them well with 
the opener. The bits of colored leather are cut and pared as 
in the first method, but this time they are pasted upon the 
leather in the corresponding spaces of the background and their 
edges sunken deep into the carved lines with a sharp modeler. 



24 








24 Tobacco poucK 



25 Tobacco poucb 



31 Change purse 




26 Candle shade 27 Candle shade 




28 Novelty candle shades 



' ' ,' 3 ' ' 




29 Music roll 





32 Calendar 



30 Match scratcher 




Painted in oil; quantity limited - Price $2.00 
Order now 




Pillow Cover; see descriptive matter 




Leather belt - see descriptive matter 



COLORING AND GILDING. 

On account of the processes to which leather is subjected 
in tanning and dyeing the effect of coloring agents applied for 
decorative purposes varies. This is true alike of dyes and 
decolorants, and there is no rule or set of rules which will 
assure definite results. Experience is the only teacher, and even 
then it is safer to experiment upon scraps of leather before 
starting to color a large piece of work. 

The durability of dyed leather is good if subjected to 
reasonable test. It is not proof against constant exposure to 
sunlight, gas light, artificial heat or bad ventilation. The use 
of potassium, potash, soda, and sulphate of iron, and any of 
the decolorants, such as sulphuric, nitric, oxalic or hydrochloric 
acid, are more or less destructive to leather, but used judicially 
in weak solution and small quantities their influence is so 
minimized as not to be detrimental. 

Upon tanned but not dyed leather potassium produces 
black ; picric acid, yellow ; sulphate of iron, slate color or gray ; 
sulphate of iron over potash, dark red or green, according to 
the strength of the solution, and potash brown. Extreme care 
must be taken in the use of potassium and sulphate of iron and 
picric acid, as they are very injurious to health. A decolorant 
is used when it is desired to bleach the leather in certain por- 
tions of the design. Reagents of this kind are enumerated 
above. They are never to be used full strength. A good general 
proportion is one part of acid to five or six of water. In 
diluting, place the water in a measuring glass and add the acid 
drop by drop. Observance of this rule will avoid explosion. 

Besides these coloring agents there are excellent analine 
and vegetable dyes to be bought ready for use, and for the 
inexperienced they are to be recommended above those requiring 
skill in the handling. 

In coloring large surfaces the leather must be dampened and 
the dye applied in even washes with soft wads made of cotton 
or old muslin. When the leather fails to respond satisfactorily 
to the first wash it should be left to dry, and then given a 
second wash of the same or different color, according to the 
end aimed at. 

If the leather is to have a shaded appearance the color is 
allowed to sink into it more heavily in some places than in 
others. As the porosity varies in the same hide, this shading is 
sometimes secured by an even wash, and again it is necessary 
to take up the color in places with a sponge. 

25 



Stenciled leather requires the use of a stencil of oil board 
and a round, short-haired brush. The leather is smoothed flat 
upon a board and the stencil held upon it by weights. The 
brush is dipped into the dye and wiped nearly dry against the 
side of the vessel holding the color. Held short, it is rubbed 
vigorously upon the leather in the spaces of the stencil until 
the color has been transferred. If the edges of the stencil are 
held close to the leather and the amount of color in the brush 
is scant there will be no danger of blurring. After the stencil 
is lifted the spaces of the design may be dyed a contrasting color 
or tined with good effect. 

Color work on such smooth leather as Russia calf and cow- 
skin has its beauty greatly enhanced by rubbing. This may be 
done with the bare hand or a chamois rubber and with or with- 
out the use of wax. When a very brilliant gloss is desired the 
w^ork is thinly varnished. 

All suede leathers respond to staining, and as a medium for 
the expression of harmony of color cannot be rivalled. 

Gilding requires skill in the use of a new equipment com- 
posed of a stuffed deerskin pad, gilder's knife, brush, stamps and 
wheels and a book of gold or silver leaf. 

Preparatory to gilding a size is made by beating lightly the 
w^hite of an egg and allowing it to stand for twenty-four hours, 
when the fluid which has separated from the rest of the egg is 
poured off and set aside for use. 

The leather is laid upon a flat surface, and the parts to be 
gilded given a thin coat of the egg size and left to partially dry. 
A sheet of gold leaf is laid upon the pad and, using the knife 
to manipulate it, is transferred in approximately suitable pieces 
to the leather, where it is pressed down lightly upon the size 
with the gilder's brush. The tool or wheel, which has been 
heating, is now tested, rubbed over a slightly oiled cloth, and 
then pressed firmly upon the gold leaf. The tool must not be 
hot enough to hiss when touched with the moistened finger. 
When the tool is lifted it will leave its imprint patterned in gold 
upon the leather. Any surplus gold leaf may be easily removed 
by blowing or with a cotton wad. Successful gilding can be 
done only where there is no draft, as the gold leaf is exceedingly 
thin and is easily blown about. 

Sometimes gold and bronze powder are used instead of gold 
leaf, and instead of the egi? size a resin powder which melts 
under the heat of the tool. With the exception of the sprinkling 
on of the powder the procedure is the same as for gold leaf. 



26 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 

I. Russia calfskin table cover, stamped and modeled. 

.2. Handbag of Russia calfskin, carved and stamped, 

3. Belt and bag of modeled calfskin. 

4. Costume bags, burnt and stained. 

5. Tablescarf of velvet sheepskin, decorated with pyrography and 

fancy lacing. 

6. Goatskin workbag with semi-conventional lilies, burnt. 

7. Calfskin medicine case, decorated with pyrography. 

8. Russia calfskin workbag, carved, modeled and stamped. 

9. Calfskin card case, incised and stamped. 

10. Carved cowhide and umbrella stand. 

11. Portfolio of tan Russia, carved and embossed. 

12. Modeled and embossed calfskin bookcover. 

13. Mirror frame of sumach calfskin, modeled, embossed and tinted. 

14. Address book of sumach calfskin, modeled and stained. 

15. Memorandum pad of sumach calfskin, modeled and stained. 

16. Waste basket of stiff cowhide, engraved and laced. 

17. Belt of sumach calfskin, engraved and stained. 

18. Handbag of engraved and stained calfskin. 

19. Russia calfskin bill-fold, modeled and stamped. 

20. Stamped calfskin fob. 

21. Stamped calfskin belt. 

22. Gray horsehide head-rest with cut-work decoration developed with 

burning and staining. 

23. Goatskin belt, showing Dresden insets. 

24. Linen belt and bag with sheepskin applique. 

25. Portieres of arras or monks* cloth, with applique of dogwood in 

sheepskin. Grill, bands, holders and tassels of the same leather. 

26. Hatrack, showing applique of carved cowhide upon wood. 

27. Chair seat and back of carved, gilded and stamped cowhide. 

28. Calfskin screen, modeled and stained. 



27 



PATTERNS. 

1. Portiere of velvet sheepskin, with applique border o£ the same 

reversed. Leather required, 8 skins. Pattern $i.oo. 

2. Billiard table cover of burlap, with applique of sheepskin. Leather 

required, 7 skins. Pattern 50c. 

3. Untrimmed sheepskin, burnt and colored. Leather required, i skin. 

Pattern $1.00. 

4. Cedar chest, covered with carved cowhide. Leather required for 

chest, 45x18x22 inches, 3 half hides. Pattern $1.00. 

5. Wooden clock case, covered with carved and stained Russia calf- 

skin, 7x12x3% inches. Leather required, 24x27 inches. Pat- 
tern 50c. 

6. Pillow of sheep, goat or ooze calfskin, burnt and stained. 22x22 

inches. Leather required, 2 skins. Pattern 50c. 

7. Twenty-four inch table mat of gray Russia calfskin, incised and 

stained, or of sheepskin burnt and stained. Leather required, i skin 
Pattern, 50c. 

8. Gentlemen's cuff case of ooze calf, goat or sheepskin, burnt and 

stained.. Leather required, 14x15 inches. Pattern 20c. 

9. Collar bag of tooled cowhide and silk. Leather required, 12x24 

inches. Pattern 20c. 

10. Watchcase of sheepskin, burnt. Leather required, 6x12 inches. 

Pattern, 15c. 

11. Shaving pad of ooze calf, sheep or goatskin, burnt and stained. 

Tissue paper filler. Leather required, 6x6 inches. Pattern 15c. 

12. Penwiper of horsehide, sheep, goat or ooze calfskin, burnt and 

stained. Chamois filler. Leather required, 5x9 inches. Pattern 15c. 

13. Penwiper or needlebook of kid, calf, sheep or goatskin, burnt and 

stained. Chamois filler for penwiper; v/hite flannel for needle- 
book. Leather required, 5x7 inches. Pattern 15c. 

14. Folding photograph frame representing the seasons, made of horse, 

sheep, goat or kid calfskin, burnt, stained and laced. Leather 
required, 15x24 inches. Pattern 50c. 

15. Photograph frame of horse, sheep or ooze calfskin, burnt and 

stained, or of Russia calfskin, embossed. Leather required, 9x12 
inches. Pattern, 25c. 

16. Photograph frame of Russia calfskin, modeled and stamped, or 

sheepskin, burnt. Leather required, 9x12 inches. Pattern 25c. 

17. Photograph frame of kid, calf, horse, ooze calf or goatskin, burnt 

and stained. Leather required, 8x9 inches. Pattern, 25c. 

18. Memorandum pad of sheep or goatskin, burnt stained and stitched. 

Leather required, 43/3x15 inches. Pattern, 15c. 

19. Magazine cover of sheep, goat or ooze calfskin, with applique of 

same leather reversed, burnt, stained and laced. Leather required, 
12x24 inches. Patten, 25c. 

20. Magazine cover of Russia calf or split cowskin, modeled, stained 

and stitched. Leather required, 12x24 inches. Pattern, 25c. 

21. College bookcover of natural sheepskin, colored pennant in applique, 

lettering and seal burnt. Pattern 25c. 

22. Bookcover of sumach calfskin, modeled, embossed and stained. 

Leather required, 10x15 inches. Pattern 25c 

23. Man's wallet of modeled Russia calfskin, lined with skiver. Leather 

required, 9x15 inches. Pattern 15c. 

24. Tobacco pouch of sheep, goat or grain calfskin and silk, witi) 

28 



rubber lining, burnt. Leather required, 5x8 inches. Pattern 15c. 
35. Tobacco pouch of sheep, goat or grain calfskin, with rubber lining, 
burnt and stained. Leather required, 7x12 inches. Pattern 15c. 

26. Candleshade in cut-work of sheep or goatskin, over painted water 

color paper. Leather required, 7x12 inches. Pattern 20c. 

27. Candleshade with laced panels in cut-work made of thin sheep or 

goatskin, lined with tinted silk. Leather required, 7x15 inches. 
Pattern 20c. 

28. Novelty candleshades of sheepskin in cut-work. Leather required 

for one, 7x12 inches. Pattern 25c. for the four. 

29. Music roll of ooze cowhide, burnt and stained, lined with skiver. 

Leather required, 15x18 inches. Pattern 25c. 

30. Match-scraper of sheep or goatskin, burnt. Sandpaper scratcher. 

Leather required, 6x6 inches. Pattern 15c. 

31. Change purse of stamped cowhide. Leather required, 6x7 inches. 

Pattern 15c. 

32. Calendar of kid calf, sheep or goatskin, burnt and stained. Leather 

required, 6x6 inches. Pattern 15c. 



29 



HOW TO MAKE A PILLOW COVER 

An Indian head pillow adds the finishing touch to the 
furnishing of office, den or library. The making is an hour's 
delightful pastime if these directions are followed. 

From a decorated skin and a plain skin cut corresponding 
squares of twenty to twenty-four inches. Place these squares 
right faces together and stitch three sides on the machine. 
With a conductor's round punch pierce the four sides with 
holes Yz inch apart and % of an inch inside the stitching. 
Long leather thongs Ye^ inch wide have been cut. Turn the 
pillow cover, straighten the seam, then lace over and over the 
three stitched edges with the thong. After the pillow has been 
forced inside this covering, slip-stitch then lace the fourth side. 

Velveteen or heavy satin may be used for the back of 
these pillows, but they do not admit of the laced edge, which 
is so effective. 



See illustration for design and price of leather 



30 



LEATHER BELTS 

How to make them at home at very small cost. Any one 
that can run a sewing machine or use a needle can make a 
dozen belts in a day. 

Every woman needs belts, many of them, and will be glad 
that it is now possible for her to indulge in these dainty 
accessories at the expense of very little time and money. 

From six to eight belts may be made from one sheepskin 
at a cost of only $1.75, or about 20 cents each. 

For a waist measure 22 to 25 inches cut a strip of leather 
4 by 30 inches and slant one end. Turn the two long and the 
slanted edges into the depth of % of an inch and stitch twice. 
The second run of stitching is % of an inch inside the first. 
Punch and work three eyelets in the slanted end, placing the 
first three inches, the second 4^, the third 6 inches from the 
end. 

Through a hole two inches from the straight end push the 
prong of a brass or nickel harness buckle. These cost from five 
to twenty cents each. Turn back the short end and stitch. Cut 
a second piece of leather 4^ by 1^ inches, turn in the long 
edges until the band is % inch wide, stitch and secure over the 
stitching which holds the buckle in place. 

A crush belt is made by turning in % instead of 3/^-inch 
hem, and a stiff belt by forcing the long edges to meet in 
the center. 

The left-over pieces of this leather can be used for making 
collars and cuffs for coat or for dress trimmings. 



See illustration 



31 



All patterns mentioned in this book and at indicated prices, 
also special patterns and designs, may be obtained at reason- 
able prices from 

WINIFRED WILSON, 
65 West t04th Street, New York City. 



The reader must not infer that small pieces of the different 
skins can be bought cut to order, as this is not the case. Ooze 
Sheep, Ooze Goat, Ooze Calf and Morocco Skins are sold in 
the whole skins only. Russia and Calf, whole skins and half 
skins. Horsehide, Cowhide and Ooze Cow, in the half hide 
or side. 

M. B. WILLCOX, 
180 William Street, New York City. 



Special attention is called to the fact that all leathers are 
not suitable for this work. The author highly recommends the 
Art Leathers manufactured by 

M. B. WILLCOX, 
180 William Street, New York City, 
The only manufacturer in the world who confines his business 
strictly to Art Leathers. 



39