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.

Mary J. Gibson

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