International Leather Journal - Volume 1 Issue 4 - Cover 3
The International Leather Journal - Logo - International Leather Club

Volume 1

The Talk of the Craft

Issue 4

The Talk of the Craft

Volume 1

Issue 4

Note from the Club

It’s that feeling when running a #3 edger along the entire length of a belt and you get to the end. That satisfaction when striking the stamp with a mallet, that fills the last bit of the corner with the texture pattern. Brushing on the last bit of antiquing to finish a piece.

So many of the most “notable” things in life are marked by milestones, big accomplishments, anniversaries, dates, graduations, and achievements. They are special, yes, and each is made up of individual journeys, and most importantly, moments.

These moments are the magic; it’s where the real life-living is. A series of moments, one after another, in each of which we are doing something. Sometimes we’re imagining, sometimes we’re trying new things, sometimes we’re making mistakes, and sometimes we’re learning. In all of these times, we’re progressing. 

As we get a new tool and take out the scrap leather to give it a try, it’s the beginning of something new. We might rush through it and think we’re not great at using it, or going to “ruin” some scrap leather to get a feel for it. We might get mostly done with a new belt and stamp a hole in the wrong place, and now it’s a “scrap piece”. 

Maybe we just finished a new carving, the first one that finally looks “decent”. Or got the stitching on the wallet we’re making for a friend to look “alright”. One might be an accomplished crafter and finished up 20 bags for an upcoming show. Or an instructor that put the final touches on the next leather class outline. 

Each of these, are moments. Very real, special experiences that make up how we interact with and truly enjoy the craft. And we get to shape them. The wrong hole in the new “scrap” belt might be an unexpected design addition where a studded gemstone might be placed. The “decent” carving might be something that really inspires someone else to try that style of crafting for the first time.

And in each of these little spaces in time, we get to truly just, “be”. The feel of the leather, smell of the hides, sounds of the edgers shearing off corners. The pound and vibration of the maul as it strikes the stamp. It almost has a musicality to it, a dance, a rhythm. It’s easy to get lost in the work, the feeling, the sounds, the senses…the moment.

It’s in these moments where the craft comes alive, and we are, alive; being, making creating. Some refer to it as the “flow” state, where time slows, the mind calms, and we have feeling of stillness and fulfillment. So often we can enjoy this in leathercraft, as we get lost in a project, and maybe not fully understanding why, it just feels good.

And as we reflect on the moments before us, we see it was exactly them which shaped who we are today. And it will be the same for when we look back to today and see how it has shaped who we have become. The moments in leathercrafting can be special. Noticing each step we take, enjoying that they’re all part of us learning, getting better, and growing. It’s not just the finished piece that matters, it’s the moments along the way.

As we craft, we can try to be very aware of these moments. Grateful for the ones that inspire us to do better, the ones that teach us something new, and the ones where they feel absolutely great. The rainy days we’re hammering away, the sunny days working in the yard. The projects that become our favorites, and the items that we make and give away that become someone else’s favorites. 

Consider these moments along the way. Pause in them. Really feel them as you go (sounds, smell, touch), each and every one. It can make the little things in crafting seem very much as special as they are. It can also bring us more in touch to the growth and fulfillment that comes from leather working at all levels and styles. So, thank you, to these special moments.

Keep Craftin’,

 

 

In This Issue

Statistics & Trends

Statistics

Measurable Insights

2520

# of USA leather workers that focus on household and personal goods (Source: LLG)

#1

Tampa, FL is the highest-paying metro area in the USA for leather workers (Source: LLG)

$26M

$ volume of 2021 USA pigskin exports (Source: USLHC)

Trends

What's New & Popular

Cheetah Print

Cheetah Print Calfskin Hide

As the fastest land mammal, a real cheetah can be hard to catch, but cheetah print leathers are back in style. Anyone who has spent time in the leather business knows that every couple of years the cheetah print leathers start selling faster than the real thing. This eye-catching design is great for high-end purses, bags, or earrings and is offered in a variety of leathers including oil tan, chrome, suedes and lamb.

Field Note Journals

Leather Journal - International Leather Journal
Leather Field Note Journal

Yes, we all have our phones to do everything for us, but sometimes it just feels good to put pen to paper and get your thoughts out in ink. Field Note journals are a great way to introduce someone to leather crafting since they’re easy to cut, stitch (or lace) and fit perfectly in a back pocket or purse. You can make one using almost every type of leather from veg tanned cow to oil tanned pull-up to even stingray as long as it is at least 4-5 ounces. Double-loop lacing using ⅛” kangaroo lace really adds a whole new element to these.

Leather Cuffs

Example of a Brown Leather Cuff

There are a thousand types of leather bracelets, but an eye-catching way to compliment an outfit is to design, tool and dye your own leather cuff. Typically seven to eight inches long and 1 ¼” to 3” wide, you can get creative with the style, color, and hardware on them.

Perspectives on the Craft

Digital Design Workflows in Leathercraft

By Dan G.

A Laser Cutter Can Help in a Digital Design Workflow

Traditionally in leathercraft, we work with our hands, and hand tools. Sketch on paper, or trace on leather with an awl, and then cut and carve and shape and make. When we begin to consider how digital tools (computers, tablets, printers, and other devices) can help us in the crafting space, some really exciting things begin to reveal themselves.

Considering using a digital workflow for leathercraft can help us at many of the typical design stages. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.

Concepting

Often, we’ll sketch ideas by hand (still, to me, one of the most powerful ways to do it). This is fun as we can freely explore different layouts as they flow through us, noting variances, alternatives, and seeing the idea come to life. 

We can do this digitally using illustration and drawing programs. Many devices allow us to use a finger as input, or even a stylus that acts and feels similar to a pen or pencil. By drawing them digitally, we can make and store virtually unlimited amounts of sketches in a tiny, clean space (the memory of a computer). We can tweak variations, change colors on the fly, and scale sizing in seconds.

Brainstorming can happen in dozens of ways, all while keeping our desk clean, and files safely backed-up. So one option is to use these digital programs when initially coming up with ideas, writing notes, and trying out different approaches. It can help us get a lot down quickly, and still have it all in one place, easy to reference.

Designing

Once we get to designing, we can sometimes take our digital concepts and even “convert” them into digital drawings (some programs will allow for this). So instead of sketching, then redrawing at different sizes, or coloring several sketches over time, we can try many variations digitally, quickly, saving time and resources. 

At this stage, we can lay out designs precisely on the screen, and even copying/pasting variations (colors, sizing, styles, etc.) very quickly. This can greatly speed up the design process, and even allow us to explore more and different designs than we could in the same time before, allowing for potentially more-helpful finished pieces.

Iterating

Often we make a design, try it out, and then work to improve it. With the design being in digital files, changes can be fast and easy. Instead of having to redraw a pattern to make the belt ¼” wider, we can just adjust the measurement in the dragging program, and in literally seconds, the belt pattern has been updated. That can be printed, and an accurate pattern is ready for working with. 

Similarly, if we’re planning to change a visual design on a project that is to be carved or laser-cut, the change we’re making can be done quickly on the computer, then send digitally right to the laser cutter. This replaces the need to re-make a piece, every step, and give us more time for innovation and crafting.

Production

More commonly nowadays, we’re seeing companies providing manufacturing services for leather goods. Once you have a design you have made, they can mass-produce it with their tools and machinery and staff. 

Having a digital file for leather designs often makes this process fast and efficient. It can be made by the designer and perfected, then passed along to the manufacturer for “white-label” production (where they make it and put your name/brand/logo on it). 

So for those crafters that are looking to grow and scale their craft into a profitable business, having a digital creative workflow for leather craft can be quite an asset among the other tools a growing crafter develops. 

Everyone has a very different creative process, and often even that evolves over time as the person grows and evolves. Integrating digital aspects into our leather working will likely look different for everyone, and is something worth considering. Who knows, the computing and artificial intelligence capabilities might become so advanced soon, that we can look through digital glasses and overlay designs visually just as we’re thinking about them, then send them to a laser cutter.

I’m not sure I’m ready for hands-free leather craft just yet :), that’s the most fun part of it all, while some of these digital technologies and workflow elements can be just what some crafters are looking for now to allow them to explore more ideas and spend more time on the crafting parts of making great items. 

Heritage & Future

Native American Leathercraft Heritage - A Tradition of Respect

By Dan G.

Members of the Sioux Tribe in 1898 with Leather Items & Clothing

Leathercraft has a rich history dating back 400,000 years, spanning the globe and many cultures, traditions, and purposes. An area of the craft with deep heritage is that of the Native American people. 

Earlier than 15,000 years ago, there are signs of humans living in North America. Today, their ancestors make up about 10 million people of the North American population. With such a significant and long history, leather has played and continues to play a role in their culture, lifestyle, and traditions.

Another deeply important element to consider is the importance and value that Native Americans placed on life, and the animals around them. Wildlife was considered to be something that embodied a spiritual energy that was shared by humans, and all of nature. In that, animals had deep spiritual meaning, inspired string beliefs, and were honored as part of their lifestyle.

So when we consider that leather comes from animal hides, for Native Americans, sources of leather were far more important than simply being natural resources; they were life energy to be honored, appreciated, and celebrated. Additionally, animal hides could be utilized for a number of purposes that made their nomadic lifestyle much more possible.

The tanning process would often involve skinning the animal (often deer, elk, bison, antelope, moose, elk, and sheep), and completely removing any fats and other substances from the hide using bone or stone scraping tools. At this point, hair could be removed, too, if desired. A braining tanning process might be utilized, and the hides then stretched and dried. In some cases, an additional step of smoking the hide would be utilized to help make the tanning process a little more durable, flexible, and made the hides slightly water resistant (though certainly not waterproof, as incredible as that would be). 

Once the hides are prepared, which could take days, they could then be used for any number of functional and decorative uses. When used for clothing, hair-on hide could be turned into warm over-garments worn in cold winters to help keep warm. Softer skins would be used for shirts, pants, moccasins, dresses, gloves, pouches, bags, quivers, slings, and dresses.  Leather was also used to create housing, covering wooden structures and creating a durable barrier against the elements. 

Hides were also used as boat coverings, aiding in creating efficient means of transport. Leather skins were also used for artistic purposes, being painted for ceremonial purposes and as a means for creative expression. Painted hides could be used to tell stories, document history, and as encouragement for health and success. For example, a hide might be painted with symbols representing physical landmarks on nearby land, weather patterns, and animal sightings. In a way, it served as modern-day paper for recording events.

Leather was also a key element in very meaningful and important symbolic wear, such as ceremonial headdresses and war bonnets. These were often feathered pieces worn atop the head, and could be long enough to extend most of the body. Earned and given to prominent and accomplished members of the tribe, these are highly significant and honored physical items. 

In a more functional aspect, leather could be used in many ways in everyday life. From wrapping around wooden handles to help provide better grip, to making laces, drum heads, decorative fringe, arm bands, bags, sheats, and protective wear, leather hides were an integral element of Native American life. 

This is an extremely brief overview of an incredibly deep and rich lifestyle, where leathercraft is but one element; something we can certainly explore much deeper and in many ways. Inspiring moreso is the perspective Native Americans generally had related to the sources of the materials that helped them sustain life. There was often a deep respect for all life, and that any life sacrificed was to be honored, and the physical elements of animals used in every way possible, efficiently, and helpfully. Existence was to be a shared experience, and animals are often highly featured in tribal or personal origin stories.

And from this we might learn a deeper appreciation for leather, where it comes from, and what it provides for us. As people today, and as people connected to the same nature that has ebbed and flowed for thousands of years with humans in North America, hundreds of thousands of years of leather working, and an awareness that the same leather we use for projects comes from the same source of nature, with great respect, and honor.

Pioneers of the Craft

A Look at Art, Life, & Crafting - Iürgen Volbach

By Dan Snyder

Iürgen Volbach Tooling in His Workshop

Iürgen Volbach’s journey to becoming an accomplished leather carver and 2020 Al Stohlman Award Winner did not begin with leather, rather, Iürgen honed his artistic talents through studying with renowned engravers and working as a goldsmith in a jewelry store in Cologne, Germany before starting his own shop at the age of 26. 

Interestingly enough, what sparked his interest in leather was his love for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. During one of his trips to Daytona Beach for Bike Week and Sturgis, Iürgen met many leather artists and noticed the overlap in design from goldsmithing and leather carving. 

It was then that Iürgen started creating his own leather tools and jumping into his new hobby full force. Over the last several years, Iürgen has embarked on creating new designs, methods, and practices in leather carving–most notably his 3D embossing, but his commitment to the arts over the last 40+ years is what makes Iürgen such a treasure to the leather community. 

I started leather carving by using Sheridan-style designs, but the more I learned, the more I started to branch out and carving designs that I found. By doing this, I had to start making some of my own tools and I made mistakes, but they were the right mistakes to make because I learned from them. Having such a unique style, what would you say to a novice looking to branch out from the traditional design styles?

If you’re learning for yourself, then you need to go in the direction that you think is the right direction. I think the most important class for anyone is to learn the swivel knife first. Learn to make the right shape. Then you can pick up a beveler and move the lines later if you have to. You have to ask yourself the right questions like is my swivel knife sharp? But sometimes you cannot teach that alone, you must go to someone that can sharpen the knife. It’s the most important part. 

What kind of parallels did you draw from in your previous experience as a goldsmith to get where you’re at today?

For myself, I was privileged to begin my work at 14 years old with real good masters in Germany and you must learn a long time with master engravers and goldsmiths. Before I was making pieces in spaces like this (*holds up fingers to show a small space*) and now I’m making pieces in spaces like this (*holds hands apart to show a larger space*) so I think it’s better for my eyes. Before I was making intricate carvings in jewelry, but now I am making the same patterns in the leather and I like it. 

I am really happy that I have the chance in my life that someone taught me real well over the years. Now, I teach myself. The more you make super, you will be better later. It’s practice, practice, practice. That is always what you can do. 

Okay, full disclosure this is kind of a loaded question. Do you think leathercraft is a dying or maybe a forgotten art?

No, not at all. I think that in the last five-ten years it is exploding. I’ve never ever had more workshops with more people and new people. They are interested in making this. In Germany, there is a big interest in the Middle-Ages and people want to have their Viking culture and Celtic culture things. It’s a big market and they are interested and they ask ‘how can I do this?’ Now they are making whatever, from wallets to belts to sheaths. 

Building on that, do you think leatherwork is an overlooked medium, as some people might see it reserved for cowboys and the West? 

No, there’s so many spaces between those. How many levels are there? There’s a new art here. Always people will be making floral [styles] , especially the Sheridan-styles but you can take the floral style and make it into something [different] than Sheridan style. People have their own way of making a flower and they are happy with this. 

In America there’s a huge opportunity for leathercraft to be taught to younger children or in high schools. Are you seeing any kind of interest or efforts to introduce leathercraft in schools in Europe? 

I think that now Germany is too small because we do not have the bigger shows like in the USA. But it begins when my grandaughter or your (Dan S.) daughter is looking at your work and she gets to stamp some flowers and they are happy. That’s great. 

Jim Linnell, (who was hosting Iürgen and connected ILJ with him) I think there are a lot of opportunities in schools. I’ll be teaching a class in Norway and one of the things they do over there in the 6th or 7th grades to keep their Nordic heritage alive is they have to make a knife and make a sheath for that and that’s part of the school curriculum. 

What was it like winning the Al Stohlman award?

That was the surprise of my life. I think I’m the only German [that has won]. You get this achievement for giving your knowledge to other people. That’s what I’m doing all day and it was really big for me to stand there on the stage the year after Covid as the first amatuer on stage. 

The trend continues, what is your worst piece of advice?

(Laughing) I have no idea. If you are working on something and you are not right on, then go home. If you are feeling tired or you are not having a positive day, don’t touch it. Make it the day after when you have the concentration to do this. If you are not using something then take it off your table. Make no mistakes and concentrate.

Tools, Techniques, & Leather Types

Tools - Basket Weave Stamps

By Bob George

Basket Weave Stamping - International Leather Journal
Basket Weave Stamping

Who doesn’t like a good basket weave pattern stamped in leather.  Seems like most folks are drawn to the simple pattern that is applied with a hammer or maul into cased veg tan leather.  These stamps have had multiple variations over the years with more being added on a regular basis.  

A traditional basket weave pattern literally looks just like a woven basket (hence the name).  Some have varying designs in the middle of the stamp.  These designs could be diamonds, US States (I think of Texas), stars, and the list goes on.  There are now additional designs that are being made that have very unique designs.  In either case, the stamping is either slightly overlapped or butted up against the previous impression to create the pattern.  Most of these stamps are made of a single piece of metal, either stainless or chrome plated.  However, there are several makers using a steel shank with a brass plate on the end to make the pattern.

These tools can be used to create an entire piece with a basket weave pattern or it can be an accent to a larger carving.  There are also a number of different sizes of this stamp style.  Depending on the size of the project will determine the size of the stamp you will want to use.  

Additionally, the basket weave stamp can be used to make circular patterns as well as straight line patterns.

Techniques - Making Borders

By Bob George

Border Making - International Leather Journal
Border on a Large Design

Nothing sets off a finished leather piece than a crisp and clean border near the edge of the piece.  Borders can be something simple; a series of camouflage stamps or a simple cut with a swivel knife.  You can add to a swivel knife cut with a beader blade giving the border a double parallel line around the exterior. 

When one does a basket weave pattern, it is best to use a camouflage stamp to stamp around the border of the stamp.  This will help hide the unfinished edge of the basket weave, giving it a professional look.  A little more complex border involves just a few tools, but really adds pop to the finished design.  This border is called a rope border.

A rope border is made using nothing more than a swivel knife, beveler tool, Craftool Triangular Figure Carving stamp (F910), and a hammer or maul.  Around the border of the piece one will cut four parallel lines around the border of the project.  Prior to making any cuts or stamping the leather, make sure to properly case the veg tan leather. For a larger project, say 14” x 14”, the first cut line using the swivel knife will be ¼” from the edge.  Working one’s way to the inside of the project, the second cut line will be ⅛” inside the first line.  To aid in keeping the lines parallel, it may be necessary to use a metal straight edge until you have the ability to perform this free hand.

The third cut line, still working our way to the inside, will be ¼” inside of the 2nd line.  The last cut line will be ⅛” inside the third line.  When the cutting is complete, it will appear as two small bead lines with ¼” between them.

Using the beveler and hammer, bevel the inside and outside of both bead lines.  Make sure to use consistent pressure while moving the beveler while striking with hammer to ensure the bevel is smooth with no high or low areas where beveled. When complete, there will be two bead lines that really pop off the leather.  You could stop there, but with just a little more effort, you can really add some pizazz to the project.

If you decide to go a step further, you will be pleased with the final outcome.  All stamps of the F910 will take place between the two bead lines. Please find a piece of scrap leather in similar thickness to practice with this stamp.  It will allow you to get the feel of the stamp as well as how much pressure to use with a hammer and the angle of the stamp when struck.  

Once confident with the practice stamps, place the project in front of you. Starting in the bottom left corner of the inside bead line, place the triangle point pointing at you and the right edge of the stamp against the inside of the bead line. Rock the stamp toward you to cause the point to be most prominent when struck with the hammer.  Move the point of the stamp (still pointing toward you–the angle and position of the stamp will remain the same for the entirety of the stamping of the first bead line) to the very edge of the previous stamp.  

The spacing between stamps can vary as much as you would like; just make sure it is the same spacing between each stamp.  Work your way all the way around the bead line.  When complete, position the project in front of you.  This time, start on the bottom right corner of the bead line closest to the edge of the project.  Orient the point so that it’s facing toward you just like on the previous line.  it should be an opposite orientation to the one you just finished stamping.  The first stamp needs to be where the diagonal edge of the stamp lines up with one of the first series of stamp’s diagonal line.  Then just use the same spacing all the way around. Voila!  You have just completed a rope border.

Here is a helpful video from Johan Potgieter’s channel demonstrating an approach to the technique:

Leather Types - Grain Leather

By Dan G.

Full Grain Leather Bag - International Leather Journal
Full Grain Leather Bag

We’ll often come across various qualities of natural leather when making design choices for a project. Understanding the differences becomes important both for how well the material receives tools and carving (for carved work), and also edges and cutting and edge finishing for many other projects. Ultimately, how the leather performs and wears over time is key, so let’s take a look into Grain Leather and what is helpful to keep an eye out for.

Grain leather is a type of leather made from the outermost layers of the animal hide. We say layers, and will explore more of what that means. These outer layers are made of densely packed fibers, and are the strongest part of the hide. They generally served to protect the animal from the elements in day-to-day living, that included rain, wind, sun, abrasions on trees and stones and with other animals, rubbing, and anything else it might come into contact with. 

That hide is strong and durable. When making leather items, using grain leather from these outer layers of the hide will allow products to have some of the same qualities the original hide did for the animal. Let’s take a look at the common layers of a typical tanned-hide, before it is split into thinner layers.

Leather Hide Cross-Section
Leather Hide Cross-Section

Large machines can “split” this hide into layers, resulting in what are commonly referred to as Full Grain and Top Grain leather. Let’s get an understanding of what these layers are, and how they contribute to the quality of the leather.

The Grain Layer

The grain is the outermost surface of the leather hide. It is made up of tight, dense fibers of collagen. The grain is the layer that was exposed to the elements that the animal lived in (air, rain, sun, abrasions, etc.), and is usually very strong and smooth once the hair has been removed.

The Grain and Corium Junction Layer

The grain and corium junction layer is where the tight, outer layer of the leather blends into the looser fibers of the corium. This junction is a mix of the very desirable and strong grain layer above it, and the more fibrous and looser collagen fibers of the corium layer below the grain layer.

Corium Layer

The corium layer is made up mainly of collagen fibers. These are looser and more open than in the grain layer (which had a denser, tighter orientation). Though, the corium layer is highly usable for producing leather items. The corium is usually the thickest layer within an animal hide, thus yielding the most material. After splitting a hide, parts of the corium might be present in either top grain or genuine leather products, since it can be kept along with the other layers to help add thickness (weight) to the material.

Flesh Layer

The flesh is the layer of leather hide that consists mostly of muscle and fatty tissues. It is not very valuable for making leather items and goods, as it does not possess the preferable and structural qualities of the layers above it. As such, leather hides are usually split to remove the layers above it, separating the flesh layer. The flesh layer might be discarded or applied to other industrial uses/processes, while the top layers are used as is, or sometimes processed further into other grades/types of leather materials.

So, what are the top two we often hear about and want to be most aware of? Full and Top Grain! Which is better? While both are excellent, each has some different properties. Let’s explore.

Full Grain Leather

This cut of the leather hide contains the outermost layout of the hide, referred to as the “grain”; it hasn’t been sanded or buffed to remove any imperfections or to thin it out any. Usually, only the hair is removed on full grain leathers. The full grain generally has very densely packed fibers that are finer and less visible to the eye; this results in a surface that is very strong, durable, and can withstand tough use, while looking smoother and having a more even, “smooth” visual appearance.

Because it undergoes no sanding, the surface though can have minor visual imperfections. These usually come from how the animal lived, and might be from where a buffalo rubbed up against a fence, where a small nick or cut they might have received, or maybe scrapes from day-to-day life or a scuffle with another animal. Full grain leather hides that are free from many blemishes are the most prized, as they are least common and are the most visually attractive in the sense of having few marks and discolorations.

The surface fibers are also what give full grain leather the most strength of any leather type. This makes it exceptionally useful for saddlery, footwear, furniture, and items that will need to withstand frequent, heavy use. Since the outer layer of full grain leather isn’t removed, it also lends to the development of a patina (a color change on the surface of the leather that comes from everyday use) over time.

This can be pleasing to the eye, and also a quality that can be valued since it takes time to generate naturally. The outer layer of full grain leather also provides some water-resistance qualities as well. In general, full grain leather is looked upon as the highest quality of leather commonly available.

Top Grain Leather

This cut of leather is very similar to full grain, except that it has had the very top layer sanded down and/or buffed to remove any imperfections and irregularities that might have been present in the surface. Removing this top layer tends to make the leather softer and more pliable, and that softness is often enhanced and aided with various dyes and finishes applied to it.

While this sanding to make top grain leather makes it more visually appealing (in general, a smooth, even color and tone), it also removes a lot of the strength and some water-repellent qualities of original full grain leather material. Thus we begin to see a tradeoff between leather strength, and the overall look and softness of the material after tanning and processing.

Given its softness and flexibility while still retaining a fair amount of strength, top grain leather is often used in high end leather items and goods, including handbags, purses, wallets, and shoes.

Prices can be a factor in leather selection, as well as availability, and the size of the finished goods they will be used to create. Choosing the right type for a project can help result in a wonderful item that can be used often and truly enjoyed, often for decades and even longer.

Featured Channel & Free Download

Featured Crafter Channel

J.H. Leather

JH Leather

J.H Leather is a shop based out of Llanfyllin, Montgomeryshire, Powys, Wales.The founder, Jo, is an owner, crafter, and teacher.

She has been in the leathercraft industry since 2007 and was traditionally trained as a saddler though the Cordwainers Diploma at Capel Manor College before completing the Modern and Millennium apprenticeship schemed run by City & Guilds and the renowned Society of Master Saddlers.

Jo offers local workshops (for those near Wales), and also great tutorials and pattern packs to help with your next project.

Her channel features a variety of tips, insights, and guidance from a truly insightful and creative crafter. They are enjoyable, informative, inspirational, and definitely worth a watch.

First-Time-Published Carving Pattern by Jim Linnell

Free Download

In this issue, we have another exciting piece to share with you – a previously unpublished carving pattern from Jim Linnell.

It is an organic leaf pattern with space for initials towards the right side. You can download this image and print it out at the scale/size you would most enjoy carving it in. Jim has an incredible studio, Elktracks, packed with deeply valuable knowledge, instructional videos, patterns, and classes on leathercraft and carving.

For more patterns and pattern books by Jim, click here to view that area on his site, and take a look at the other great resources available. You might be there a while, there’s so much to see 🙂 This is an incredibly special pattern to be able to share, please let others know it is available so they can enjoy and use it too.

Jim Linnell - Leathercraft Tooling Pattern - Leaves and Initials - International Leather Club - International Leather Journal

ILC Club News

Latest from the ILC

What's New & Popular

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Discussion Forum

We’re actively adding more and more helpful resources and references to the forum, so discussion and research can easily happen in the same place. There are even some posts about leather and crafting materials for sale.

Leather Directory

The Global Leather Directory has been received very well and folks are sending in businesses and shops to be added, so it can grow all the time. If you’re looking for a locak leathercraft resource (shops, groups, popular crafters, supply stores, etc.) anywhere in the world, check it out.

Facebook Group

We have launched a new Facebook Group for the ILC! You’ve now got another way to connect with the community. Lots have already joined and you can look there for tips, insights, activities, and meeting/chatting with other great folks every day. Click below to join.

Studio Stories

We owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to the people that helped develop the craft we get to enjoy every day. With a treasure of knowledge from Jim Linnell, we have recorded a video called Studio Stories where we explore some of the most fascinating and impactful items in leathercraft history. Click above to view the video, and below to visit the ILC YouTube channel.

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