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iH. p. WiUcox
180 William Street';
New ; 'York ' " '
M. B. WiUcox
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
AH Leather mentioned in this
book, may be obtained from
M. B. WILLCOX
J 80 William St., New York
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
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
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
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.
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
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
1 Russia calfskin table cover
2 Handbag of Russia calfskin
''o »'. '< '
3 Belt and h^^ oi modeled calfskin
4 Costume bags
• * *' «
• •■ » • » » •
. • • ' • . •
6 Goatskin workbag
8 Russia calfskin workbag
s. " .-"^
7 Calfskin medicine case
10 Carved Cowhide umbrella stand 9 Calfskin card case; incised and stamped
, ' >i3'//.i^£'rW.rfr:aihe*,'
12 Modeled and embossed calfskin book cover
11 Portfolio of tan Russia
14 Address book
15 Memorandum pad
,16 ;^a9tp, basket
^-^^ f-v o n
22 Gray horse Hide Head rest
24 Linen belt and bag
25 Portieres of arras or inOnkV^clol^'h ^\ ]
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
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
After the leather has been dampened the design is secured
upon it and traced as described for soft finish leather.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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-
1 Portiere of
velvet sK^eps^ii'-svitV a|>,pl^q'!;ie l«!Or<ler of the same reversec
3 Untrimmed sheepskin
4 . Cedar cKest covered with, pax-.yt,d co-whide
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
13 Pen-wiper or needlebook
11 Shaving pad
14 Folding pKotograph frame representing the seasons
15 Photograph frame
16 Photograph frame
17 Photograph frame
19 Magazahe ^cover
i^ ^ "^llit-^
18 Memorandum pad
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
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
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
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
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).
# ^?s- M^. I o ffl
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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 Tobacco poucK
25 Tobacco poucb
31 Change purse
26 Candle shade 27 Candle shade
28 Novelty candle shades
' ' ,' 3 ' '
29 Music roll
30 Match scratcher
Painted in oil; quantity limited - Price $2.00
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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-
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
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.
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)
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.
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.
32. Calendar of kid calf, sheep or goatskin, burnt and stained. Leather
required, 6x6 inches. Pattern 15c.
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
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
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 left-over pieces of this leather can be used for making
collars and cuffs for coat or for dress trimmings.
All patterns mentioned in this book and at indicated prices,
also special patterns and designs, may be obtained at reason-
able prices from
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
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.