Leather Art

Someone once said that owning a piece of handmade product is the true sign of a wealthy person.

And once upon a time I did not understand that. It Pained me to see handmade goods expensive and after I got myself into the art on leather tooling and creating art with it my whole view on the subject changed as time went by. There is a difference between DIY and handmade. Even tough the latter often begins with the other.

What is luxurious? I googled it. It is an adjective used less and less starting from 19 century. Expensive, comfortable, bringing great pleasure but kind of perfect. To me it is something that makes my moment amplify. Like going to sauna on a warm summer evening. You are kind of breathless from the heat, wet and you wrap the blanket around you, go outside and the warm air feels so fresh. what makes it luxurious experience of the time is a glass of apple juice with ice in it. The cold drink makes this moment luxurious for me. And I like to see my creations the same way. Seeing what I have made I can enjoy them daily. That is why I consider hand made and art luxury items, they make my days better. They make me feel upgraded and amplify the appreciation of my life and myself. And I also want to make them available to you in hopes they make you feel the same way.

 Keep on mind that there is a difference between over priced and expensive. Some ideas price ups so expensive, no matter what you do that it seems there is no point to create it. So why do it? That is where the passion of creation kicks in and it actually does not matter in that moment. Have to toss that calculating rational bugger to a dark box for sometime and meanwhile invest every free minute in creation. I am truly blessed for even having opportunity to do so. And It has a lot to do with you, my customers. So I thank you for giving me the opportunity to create!

Looking for a custom order? I have you! Great gift for someone you think is important, deserves some pampering, you feel gratitude to and want to make something special for them? I am your person. Maybe you have some special project in your mind and would like to collaborate? Yes, I still am your Ginny in the bottle. What about pampering yourself with something luxurious, excuised that will bring you joy for a long time? That amplifies your days of lives? I am most glad to help!

Here is what you can expect.

First you contact me. Best to contact me is via messages. As most millennials I prefer to text on go or meet up rather than chat on phone.  Best channels for that are whatsup (my phone number is on top right of the page), facebook messenger or instagram. I usually answer quite quick. Messenger is the least quickest way to get an answer as it seems to always have technical issues. I do check my email daily, So if I have not answered in couple of days I haven't gotten your email, I suggest trying another channel.

Start with who you are, what is your budget for what you have in mind and to who it is for. Talking to me is the key. I like to do personal work cause I feel I benefit more from it. 

Then we discuss what I am able to do within budget. It is good if you have reference pictures. I always hope for best quality possible but I also work with medium phone photos. Keep in mind. The less saturation your reference photo has the better I can make the image. Hard to wiggle between blurry lines. Best if you have some variety. The more freedom you give for me the better. I usually do give options to choose from different perspectives. It all gets born in the conversation.

If you want a brand new design for example a wallet I have not done before. I do charge 20 to 30% of creating new pattern depending If I see more usage in the future for the pattern. If you want change in my pattern I will charge amount of time that takes me to make changes needed.

If you want something as a gift to a friend, mother, father etc it is good to get to know things about the person. For example He is into old cars is not good enough. Would be good to know what is his all time favorite car. What he likes about it. Or you say she rides a motorcycle. That is not enough eighter. You would at least need to know what type of motorcycle we are talking about. Street, off road etc and they all have that one they druel after. And that is not enough. It is also good to know if she is the rider, is she posh, race, street, etc. what is her style after she removes the helmet. Short clean black hair with umber black make up or blonde with blue make up and pink nails? Best if you don't assume and make your home work. I have a friend. I always thought her favorite color was blue. I would of never guessed her favorite color is actually lilac.

People are very picky on a wallet. Especially if it is not some 50euros one that ends up in a drawer not used or doesn't last that much. SO getting someone a wallet, there is more to know. It needs to be as practical for the persons preferences are as possible. Some strictly hate cash while other need change pocket just in case you never know. Some insist for a phone to fit in and others say never. It is good to know what they are using now and what they used before.

Now I am ready to make everything from small items. I haven't gotten around purses or belts yet but I will.

I charge an hourly rate of 15e per hour plus materials, taxes and shipping fee. You most probably will be surprised that I do not use special packing boxes etc if not asked separately. I try to keep costs as low as possible and use what ever I find in my house. And yes I have leftover from my house renovations witch means so far I have used the step silencer that goes underneath your flooring panels. I Do take care of the matter that it gets to you as safe as possible. Besides I try to be Eco friendly as much as possible.

Once we have cleared the design And you give me a confirmation on the matter I do expect you to make a 50e deposit, witch will be deducted by the end amount. This confirms your position on line of work. We will talk about deadline and time schedule. I have multiple projects on hand and sometimes I am not able to deliver. Making one item is time consuming and there is also family and rest of the life. Depending on situation I usually can deliver within two weeks if I do not have pending customers but longest wait has been up to 5 months. I will give you heads up when your time is nearing so it would not be a surprise. I confirm when I start making and You will get to see photos in progress. This is somewhat important. Once I have finished the item you get to see photos of them and confirm that you want to purchase it. If you do, I expect transaction to be done once I have sent you tracking number. I will not post the item before the item has been payed onto my account.

I have no refund policy. But I do have warranty for quality of my work. If you have any issues contact me immediately.

I would love if you would keep me posted on your feelings and emotions or the receivers. And also if you could leave me feedback or recommend me to your friends. Share my website with them. I will not post anything to social media without permission witch I always ask. Cause I know some things are best kept personal.

And Also I offer as a bonus you can pay now for fixed cost to send me the item back during purchase after the date of payment made to condition and re touch paint if needed. Or you can just contact me in the future to do conditioning and maybe repaint if it has had excessive wear, I will charge my hourly rate with shipping fee and send it back to you.

  I also have done gifts as a customer has an old jacket or leather purse I can do paintings on just regular leather, protect them with the acrylic finish. Together we can figure something out :) You will get a personal experience with me. And most greatest things from great minds are born from teamwork. Do not be afraid to explore the road ahead.

 Keep in mind. Some things are not worth to sell for a price x if it doesn't balance out creating same thing again. That is why they say that some items do not have price or are priceless/exquisite and some do not even want to go on the journey of recreation of something priceless, they say it is a waste of time. I thought so too for a long while. But luckily I have met some of those people who are willing to put the time and effort into bringing those visions alive no regards to resources, I have worked with them, shared, talked, getting so inspired I feel I will burst if I hold myself back any longer. It has been hard journey for sure. In my early years I made for the learning and excitement of it. Now I make for the expression and cause I can and part of me is compelled to just do. I have painted my whole life and experimented with very many ways of expressive art. But nothing has kicked me so hard as leather art has. It changed my whole perspective of HandMaking Community. I appreciate that change it brought in me. I appreciate that change in my point of view!

And now I stand on the other line with all others. And I am proud of it. I pour my heart and soul, sweat and tears into my work like all hand crafters. And I enjoy every minute of it.  In order to understand The true extent to my work I will brake it down below. Good read next to a cup of coffee or tea.

Why Vegetable tanned leather? Why not? First you need to understand the marvelous endless opportunities with creating with such exquisite medium. Back in the day animals were killed to get the leather. I remember the commotion even from my youth around the matter in early 90s. Nowadays they are just a side product, waste basically that finds its use in the hands of leather workers. This makes the material natural and ecological. Long lasting with right care and fits together with most other materials. It compliments almost any style and is best material to use with metal.

There are two types of real leather, Vegetable tanned and Chrome tanned. Latter being chemical process for leather to get ready for usage in industry. Vegetable tanning is an old traditional way to tan leather with natural components like wood bark, etc. This process takes up to 2 months even more, witch makes Vegetable tanned leather more expensive and more exquisite. After that it is available for crafters to stretch, color, and tool and make all kinds of beautiful things with it. With good care it can easily serve you for the rest of your life and a bit more.

I Offer high Quality, unique, exquisite, luxurious craft with art work combined to useful items! I truly believe that art is for consumption. All my leather work is made with quality Vegetable Tanned leather, ordered from UK, Italy and Estonia.

Bare with me with the process of producing handmade leather item. Disclaimer! This is not a tutorial, this is description of How I do it.

I make my own patterns, hand cut the pattern out form hive.
Next step is placing design onto leather, carve it and tool it. It depends a lot on project. Sometimes I draw the design forehand, but sometimes I also freestyle it as I go. Depends a lot how clear the vision of it is in my head and what elements I am using. For example it is nearly impossible to draw tooling punch patterns on paper. It is way too much time consuming. Same with animals and portraits. And even If I am using for example google CCT picture as reference I usually only take the rough outlines of the image. Those I transfer to special transfer paper. Then I moist the leather and transfer my design usually with an awl. Or design it on spot when it has dried a bit more. Next step is to carve with a special knife the outlines. After that I moist the leather more and let it get ready for tooling.  I could write a whole chapter about tooling the leather. But in shell Tooling leather means of placing a punch tool to pre moistened leather and punch it with a wooden hammer. Tools are surprisingly tiny but the smaller they are the better the imprint will come. This makes the work quite time consuming but result is unique and worth it. Tooling is possible only into Vegetable Tanned leather. Depending on the design sometimes it can happen that pressing the leather together it may extend the leather to wideness. that means if you have precut the tooling leather into size it can be sometimes even up to 4mm wider. This is where experience is a good help also premeditating the design and knowing how to handle the so called over hang.

Next I dye parts of leather in preparation of sewing with alcohol based quality Danish R.O.C Dyes. This is special dye for leather as a basic dye of any leather product. It penetrates into leather. I will not soak the leather so rear side usually is without dye. It leaves Rich pigment into the leather as alcohol evaporates and using different techniques it is possible to achieve many different effects. (Recently I purchased Deep Red and once opening the bottle even to my surprise I smelled strong cherry above the stinging alcohol. It made it pleasant.)

Some edges need to be treated during the process. Thicker Edges are treated with heavy sandpaper (125grit for start), round the edges and the DYE again. Then Slick them with a wooden stick. Let it dry and sand again with 800 grit and 1200 grit. Apply dye again and slick. For my last coat I use Tan Kote Leather finisher with slicking stick.

For sewing I punch holes with a punching chisel, glue the parts, hand sew with two needles. I use 0.8 to 1mm waxed Nylon thread as it is most durable thread also used in shoe making. Sometimes I need the help of an awl. As smaller stitches inside wallets for example I use even more thinner not waxed nylon thread and make the holes with an awl.

After all the parts have been sewed together, edges gotten treatment and are done I apply olive oil. Two to Three coats if needed as Dyes tend to dry the leather. Let it dry. I use natural olive oil cause some olive oils can change the color. It Might deepen the color witch on some cases is nice but on others it can also make the color so dark that it is lost somewhere there. One important thing that I have forgotten to mention about the Dye process is that  every leather gives pigment out differently even if the same dye is applied.

Now I use acrylics for details. Depends a lot on the design. First thing to take into consideration. Dye stands inside the leather, Paint On the leather! Witch also means it is easier to restore paint than dye same pigment shade. Usually I aim for using less as possible. But portraits for example it is nearly impossible to achieve results without covering the full area with a paint coat. And keep in mind that Due to the fact that usually acrylic colors are lighter than the rest of the item it also tends to get dirty more easily. So light wash (instructions more below on the matter) from time to time would make the paint stay brighter longer. I will mention it out here that also for places with paint on surface I do use acrylic finish to protect the paint as long as possible.

For finishing the product I use Different products on different areas and depending on the usage of the item.

For water proofing is used Acrylic finishes as Resolene and Angelus Acrylic Finish witch are applied and are there to stay. Upsides are that it waterproofs, and protects from uv light from sun and it is easier to clean. It does not affect the durability of leather unless the item sits unused in your closet. Cause it will dry there over time and will need some conditioning. And having Acrylic finish on as a top coat does not allow you to condition it IF the rear side of the leather is not exposed. You might try to remove the finish but that means you will damage the paint. In That case I suggest to find someone who knows about all this and can make restoring work also on paints. Think of this as a thin layer upon the paint work. It also wears down if often rubbed against something daily, witch also means it is still good to wax it as normal leather with any finish from time to time. But with acrylic finish I believe in nowadays is a way to go and most leather art workers choose this option. If I do not use this finish all over exterior leather surface I 100% use it on top of paint and about 1mm around it, so that using leather conditioner still allows for needed oils to penetrate the leather around it, witch adds durability.

About drying I can say that I had my leather motorcycle pants in my dark closet draw for 10 years, took them out and yes they needed oil in theory but did not have that dry feel to them. And they were treated with acrylic finisher. But I had no time so I still used them for couple of weeks before got time to condition them. I do not have the answer to what it takes and how long it takes for leather to dry out to braking point. I have had one piece of leather dye gone bad. I dyed it but it shrank, so tossed it into my leftover box without adding oils and once i browsed thro the box I found it. It was really different from all others  cause I had some more similar happy accidents witch still are in my box and still bend to will and it broke in half between my fingers. After that I understood how important is a good conditioning to leather! It can go many many years before it does that if it is conditioned well. This is the reason I pay extra attention on conditioning it in production. One great side to Vegetable tanned leather is that it softens while you use it. Witch also extends the lifetime of the product. It is material that goes far in time and serves its owner well.

For natural protection and conditioning I use Leather Conditioner that includes conditioning oils and wax. This will not waterproof items but wax will repel water a little. Waxing is recommended once in 3 to 6 months depending of usage of the item and how it is used. Example I use this a lot on wallets insides. And I would use leather conditioner once a year there whilist outside of a notebook I would probably use conditioner in 18 to 24 months or even longer.

And for the semi protection is Tan kote and Super sheen. They do not water proof leather but give it better protection than wax. Downside of them is also the need to reapply lets say every 6 months. Downside is you would have to buy the product. Upside is that it allows you to condition your leather in between application with oils witch can triple the lifetime of your product. All that said I admit. On custom orders, on heavy usage places I choose between full Acrylic Finish and Semi Protection Depending on the customer.

For wallets I use mostly Supersheen or angelus acrylic finish as a whole coverage. But on items that might be in lesser usage like bags, chairs, belts or notebook covers I use acrylic finishes only on top of the acrylic paint. Rest I only use wax conditioner or semi protection. Also wallet insides where there is no acrylic paint nor waterproofing needed I find that wax conditioner is enough as it repels water a bit even tough it isn't waterproofed. This adds to the lifetime of the product in case it is shelved.

 You can wash/ Clean the surface of your leather with a mild soap dilution and moist cloth. I recommend on my products to use leather conditioner every 6 to 12 months. Example Gold quality or The Leather Guy products. Leather conditioner has everything to return particles to leather and give it protection.

Vegetable tanned leather goes far with little care!

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