Why Preliminary Designing Is Important in Leatherwork

Preliminary design refers to the designs that are made prior to the production of the real product in Leatherwork. They are usually in the form of sketches carried out on paper. Preliminary designing is of immense importance in the field of Leatherwork production.

• It offers opportunity for selecting from a series of designs-

Preliminary designing helps the leather artist to have a wide range of designs to choose from for the designing of leather articles. This helps him to make a better choice of design for his products because he is not handicapped as far as design selection is concerned.

• It prevents wastage of materials-

It assists the leather craftsman to envision how a finished product would look like. This enables him to use his raw materials judiciously, avoiding unnecessary waste. He cuts his materials with accuracy and precision because he had planned the cutting of each part of the leather product.

• Gives the chance to have the end products in view-

Preliminary designing helps the leather craftsman to see how the finished product will look like even before its execution. This helps him to make the necessary corrections and additions required before the final work is made. Usually, the client is made to see how the design will look like when it is finally produced with the actual materials. Therefore, the queries of the client are factored before the product’s actual execution.

• It offers the opportunity to plan and prepare adequately-

It affords the leather craftsman the opportunity to plan and prepare the design for his products very well. This makes his products of a high quality since it has been well planned before its execution.

• It offers the chance to work accurately and with precision-

Preliminary designing ensures that mistakes in the working of the final product are avoided or minimized. This is due to the fact that the precise sizes and shapes of the articles have been already determined. Thus, articles are cut with precision and accuracy.

• It serves as a guide-

The preliminary design serves as a guide for the leather craftsman in the manufacture of his articles. Since he has a guide, he works at an extremely fast rate. The guide enables him to work systematically to achieve his set goals.

Preliminary designing should be very important to every leather craftsman because it impacts positively on the total outlook of his/her productions, attracting large market share for his/her enterprise.

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Classification of The Uses of Leather

Leather has various uses in almost all the undertakings and activities of individuals, societies and the nation as a whole. Its immense use cannot be exaggerated. However, for purposes of easy identification and study, the uses of leather have been classified or grouped into seven namely, Clothing and body items, War and Defense, Education, Chieftaincy and culture, Containers for storage and services, Sports and entertainment and Industry.

1. Clothing and Body Items

Leather is used in producing items that are worn on the body for various purposes such as protective, decorative or medicinal. Leather is used in making garments and apparels to be worn as clothes on the body. Also, other items for personal adornments, such as hats, beads, footwear, buttons and belt are made from leather.

2. War and Defense

Items in leather play protective roles in warfare. For instance, leather is fashioned into weapons of war and defense, such as shields to protect the individual when missiles are fired by opponents, bows for fighting, quivers, and arrows for battling with enemies, talisman and amulets that give spiritual protection to the wearers. While talisman wards off evil forces away from its wearer, amulets, on the other hand, attract or draw good spirits to protect the wearer. Cloaks of war and other closely knitted protective garments for war and defense are available through the use of leather.

3. Education

Since times immemorial, leather has greatly assisted in the dissemination and acquisition of knowledge through education. Writing surfaces such as parchments and vellums prepared from leather have contributed greatly both in teaching and learning activities. Moreover, the lifespan of books and other stationery items are prolonged by the use of articles in leather such as book covers, dust jackets, bags, portfolios, pen holders etc.

4. Chieftaincy and Culture

Leather plays a vibrant role in issues concerning the installment of chiefs and things directly connected to chieftaincy. For example, traditional council and state gatherings are uniquely colored by the state umbrellas, swords, pouffé, whisk, mats, drums, leather-plaited stools etc. These are elements of our rich material culture. They help in the transmission, propagation, and promotion of our rich cultural heritage. Without articles produced from leather, most of the gems of our culture, if not all, would have been long forgotten. Leather articles that reflect our culture are used as teaching aids in schools, institutions, and agencies of cultural education to assist learners in knowing much about our cultural heritage.

5. Containers for Storage and Services

Leather articles in the form of containers and receptacles are used for storage purposes. Leather is used in the production of bags that houses our important documents and items, bottles for storing water and other equally relevant liquids, cases of spectacles, purses, a portmanteau (A large traveling bag made from stiff leather) etc. A lot of documents and items would have been lost had it not been containers from leather!

6. Sports and Entertainment

Sporting activities and other forms of entertainment are enhanced and promoted by the use of articles in leather. For example, balls and hand gloves made of leather find their way in soccer, volley, and hockey games. Protective shoes and soccer boots are made available by the courtesy of leather. What about the moments of glory, when victors are to be crowned? It is articles in leather such as medals, plaques, and trophies that always do the trick. Entertainment and other sporting activities would have been boring, uninteresting and even lifeless without leather and its products.

7. Industry

Leather as a material, together with its articles has a large contribution to the success of industrial activities carried out by various firms, factories, and industries in the country. Construction, engineering and ‘high duty’ industries where dangerous and life threatening equipment are used are protected with products in leather. For instance, Wellington boots are worn to protect the foot from hurt and slipping during industrial activities. Goggles, gloves and nose masks produced from leather protect sensitive parts of our body such as eyes, hands, and noses from various health hazards.

Also, the transportation of important tools, materials, and equipment to vantage areas where industrial activities are being done is facilitated through the use of conveyor belts, a product in leather. High tension cables that always carries high voltage electrical current with no casualties in various industries are as a result of leather. Our industries would have been futile in the discharging of their duties if leather and its manufactured items were not in existence.

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How To Decorate Leather Using Tooling, Marbling, Dabbing, Printing, Painting and Patchwork

Increasing the aesthetic qualities of an item to be produced is one of the powerful means through which manufacturers win greater market share for their products. The leather craftsman must know these decorative techniques so that s/he can utilise them in improving the attractiveness of his/her products. This article gives a core description of tooling, dyeing, marbling, dabbing, painting and patchwork.

1. Tooling

This decorative technique involves the creation of fine outlined patterns on a leather item. The leather material is moisture or made damp. The outlined pattern is created with pencil onto the leather item. A round sharp edged tool which can be heated is made to go through the outlines to create the pattern on the leather item. In tooling, the image is always sunken as compared to embossing.

2. Marbling

This decorative technique has several ways of being achieved. One way is by crumpling the leather material before the dyes are poured or sprinkled onto specific areas of the leather material with the help of a teaspoon. Sometimes areas of the leather are tied with threads before the dye is sprinkled or is immersed in the dye solution.

Another marbling technique called controlled marbling is carried out by sprinkling oil paint on starch and stirring it with a stick to create an interesting pattern. The leather material is laid on it and its back is tapped gently for the decorative pattern created to appear on it. The uncontrolled marbling can also be done by substituting starch with turpentine before the oil paint is sprinkled on it.

3. Dabbing

This process involves the dabbing of dyes or inks of different colours onto the leather material with the help of a piece of cloth, foam or brush. This application of the dye is done according to a planned or unplanned layout to achieve a decorative effect.

4. Painting

This is the method of decorating leather on the grain side with paints or other colouring media. The layout of the design is made on paper and it is transferred onto the grain side of the leather with the aid of a tracing paper. The design is then painted with colours. It is then allowed to dry.

5. Patchwork

This is the process of joining and decorating two or more pieces of leather together as one. The leather can be different colours or one colour. The edges of all the leathers to be joined must be well trimmed. Thong or lace is created after the thronging holes have been created at the edges of the cut out patterns to be patched. The thonging or lacing is done to join the patterns together.

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Enhancing The Aesthetic Outlook of Leather Items

There are various ways of heightening the aesthetic appeal of items produced with leather. Some of these include printing, carving or incision, embossing, weaving, in-laying, on-laying, thonging, stamping and scorching. These decorative processes have been discussed in this article.

1. Printing

This is the process of transferring an inked design onto a leather material either by the use of screens, relief blocks or stencils. Oil based paints and permanent inks are used for printing designs onto the leather material.

2. Carving/ Incision

This decorative technique involves reducing the thickness of the leather around a marked out design on a leather material by chipping away or cutting off, the same as with wood or other materials. The leather material should be damp before the carving is done with a suitable sharp knife.

3. Embossing

This is the creation of a raised design or pattern on a leather material. This can be done by placing a cut-out template of the design or pattern on a hard board. The damp leather is laid on it, after which the edges of the cutout template are defined with the fingers or any appropriate tool to create a raised effect. Embossing by raising is suitable for light or craft leathers, whereas embossing with the wheel and carriage is most suitable and often used on heavy or strap leather.

4. Weaving

This is creating an interlaced design or pattern with different colored strips of leather on a leather item.

5. Thonging

This is the creation of decorative stitches by the passing of thinly cut strips of leather (thongs) of equal measurement through the carefully punched holes at the ends of a leather item.

6. In-Laying

This decorative technique involves the cutting out of a drawn design (Positive areas) and placing a new colored leather piece under the cutout design thus, in-laying. The in-laid leather piece is maintained in a position either by stitching, sewing or gluing.

7. On-Laying
This decorative technique is the exact opposite of the in-laying decorative technique. In this technique, the design is cut from a different colored leather and either sewn, stitched or embroidered on the leather item. This is the same as appliqué.

8. Stamping

This is the creation of designs onto the leather material using heated stamps of varying designs. Before the heated stamps are stamped on the leather material, the surface is moisture or made damp to assist in creating well-defined designs.

9. Scorching

This technique is applied on leather by first sketching or tracing patterns, motifs, drawings etc. on leather then a metal rod or soldering rod is heated and in the hot state used to burn along the lines traced onto the leather. This will leave a permanent burn or scar on the leather as a decoration.

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