Just like any other process that involves tempering with leather, carving leather can also be a long, time-consuming process. However if you use the right kind of tools and follow the appropriate techniques, you can easily create some impressive pieces that will set your unique fashion statement.
To begin with, you’ll need a swivel knife that helps cut into the leather smoothly without ruining the edges. You will also require a beveller to enhance the edges just in case the cutting wasn’t that smooth. In order to add further detail to the finished piece, use stamping tools. If you’re not new at this, it is recommended to use at least four leather carving patterns that will enhance the complexity and take the overall appearance of your leather carving to the whole new level.
Leather Carving Tools
The right tools can make or break the overall process. To end up having the perfect outcome, you are going to need a swivel knife. It basically has a rotating U-shape holder on top and a barrel used to guide the blade. Most knives come with the blade that is interchangeable in case of too much damage. Properly sharpen and taken care of the blade to make it last for a long time.
Secondly, you are going to need a stamping tool set. It is just as important as the carving itself. If you don't want to take a chance and ensure neat and clean carving, stamping is the first step towards that journey. Lastly, you are going to need vegetable-tanned leather to finally begin with the process. This type of leather is best for crafting as it can be stamped, molded, carved, and shaped while maintaining the stamped impression.
What Kinds Of Leather Work Well For Carving?
Vegetable tanned leather is best suited for carving as it is durable alongside being soft which makes it ideal for holding well to all the tempering. It’s called “vegetable” because of the natural materials used in the tanning process like tree bark. Vegetable tanned leather also tends to age better and develops a rich patina over time. This type of leather has a classic leather smell, however, this quality has nothing to do with how well it is suited for carving.
Most leather accessories including wallets, saddles, belt, bags, straps and harnesses are made from vegetable tanned leather because of its durability and rigid nature.
What Is Sheridan Style Leather Carving?
Sheridan Style could probably be the most popular types of leather carving. If you see a leather accessory that has been carved in circular tights patterns with hardly any empty space, that’s how you know its a Sheridan. It might look easy but craftsmen take years and years to achieve the level of perfection that this style of carving requires.
Step By Step Guide For Leather Carving
- First of all, you need to choose a piece of leather that you want to carve on and as mentioned above, vegetable leather is the best option.
- Go for a light-colored leather as it is easier to carve as compared to dark leather. Specially as a beginner, you’ll need to put in less effort and the designs and patterns will be more clearly visible on a lighter tone.
- Next, just like any other tempering method, you need to wet both side of the leather for carving as well. Use a sponge or a paper towel for this purpose. Make sure that you don't soak it wet.
- Use a wax paper to draw your chosen pattern on. Trace out your desired design using the carving tools such as pencils, ruler, protractor etc. Use a light hand, just in case you might need to erase anything.
- Put the wax paper on the leather surface in a way that the traced side is facing upwards. Use a transparent tape to fix the paper on leather for your convenience.
- Use a stylus and set its tip anywhere on the design that you’ve drawn. Trace over all of the lines on the template to impress the design into the leather. Make sure to apply constant yet gentle pressure throughout so that all of the lines are evenly pressed into the leather.
- Remove the wax paper and transparent tape once you’re done.
- Start carving the leather immediately after tracing before it dries completely.
- Use a swivel knife and hold it straight with your index finger and thumb. Maintain the pressure and make sure to press the knife consistently in order to get the similar depth through our the design.
- Use the beveller for a better finishing around the edges.
If you are new at this and don't want to take any risks, try whole process on a rough leather piece just for the sake of practice.