MAJOR PROJECT: Research // Leather and manipulation research

Images by myself (Sony Nex 5N)

In late 2011 I managed to buy a bargain bag full of black (what I think is) lamb-skin leather off Ebay for just over $100. The bag consisted of 15 soft hides, and were in pretty much perfect condition as far as leather goes.
I am a little annoyed that all those years ago I never enquired into the sale a little further to find out what form of skin it was, because it is just so soft. The leather is very maleable and easy to work with. The underside of suede is very soft and fluffy, but I wonder if it was supposed to be that soft, because sometimes it's so soft, it breaks. Perhaps it was an over treatment/mordent? I am not so sure at all. Overall it has more pros than cons.

Above are some detailed photographs of my leather supply on a rack, coiled rope experimentations and sliced strips of leather which I hand slice with a fantastic Fiskars circular blade cutter. This cutter has been fantastic for leather, paper, plastics and cardboard. You can see it being used below.

Above is a large experiment of knotting leather which ended up turning into a small experiment - if you know what I mean. I began shredding small strips of leather but stopping at a point where I can begin a row across. 
In terms of time-consumption it is medium, but the outcome is equal parts underwhelming and amazing. I mean, just look at the texture on either side! Should I use this technique or not? It uses alot of leather up for the amount of texture in the outcome, however a pro is that it is very strong and quite appealing to the concept of my project. There is a level of craftsman ship, knotting and weaving are both skills I learnt in India, so perhaps this would be a fantastic technique to implement also in my collection? I am thinking panels, in the sides, a back yoke perhaps? 

My last experimentation for today is the Powertex treatment. Powertex is a  fabric hardener that works best on natural fibres and is environmentally friendly - bonus!
It looks and smells like PVA wood glue. I have done a small text sample of a ceramic sea shell. I first actually dipped the medium piece of leather into a small diluted bowl of Powertex to experiment. I wrung the leather out and started to elastic band it to the mold to form a shape by following the grooves. I then placed in front of a low-heat heater. It appeared to dry quickly but I was worried at how dry the leather was becoming. So 45 minutes later I applied some leather conditioner with a tissue. After an hour since application of the Powertex, I unwrapped the elastic bands. The shape looks great. However I would not place Powertex over the entire leather sheet again. I think just for the underside is enough, and the top side can be unaffected by the dryness of the Powertex. Overall a successful experimentation and I have learned some things along the way already. I cannot wait to continue using this product!

If you are in the Sydney region and would like a bottle of Powertex for your crafts contact Liz

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