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To provide high quality hand carved leather goods, and spread the love of local arts and crafts.

About Cornish Leather Crafts

Our mission is to: "provide high quality hand carved leather goods, and spread the love of local arts and crafts", which seems to be dying in our fast paced, high tech, throw-away society. Although we love technology and new things, we have thrived in the beautiful Cornish countryside, and the peace and tranquility and Celtic roots have inspired many of our designs.

About Leather Carving

Leather carving, sometimes called tooling or burnishing, is the art of transferring a design, pattern or picture onto leather. Carving leather takes time and patience, and is very different from the process of stamping or rolling designs on to leather, producing very different results. Many of the patterned leather products you find on the net, or in shops have simply been stamped (or sometimes stamped and painted) or done with a patterned roller, as many of the belts I have seen.

Our products may seem expenisve, but I hope that the breakdown that follows will help you to see the time, care and effort that goes into each and every one of our carved leather products.

First the design is chosen, drafted, and transferred onto tracing paper.

Next, the leather is chosen, measured, and cut to size. Even this is not a straightforward process, as leather comes in different grades, qualities and thicknesses, having been tanned in different ways: not all leather is fit for carving, and the correct leather has to be chosen for its fitness for purpose (think about the difference between a suede jacket or a bike jacket, or the difference between a sheepskin leather handbag or a pair of DMs!).

The cut leather has now had the design transferred to it

The next step is to wet the leather and transfer the design from the paper to the leather - this is done using a not-too-sharp stylus or pencil.

After the leather has begun to dry out a little, the design can be cut carefully into the leather with a knife.

the design is now being cut into the leather

This is where the really tricky bit starts. A bevelling tool and leather mallet is used to follow the edge of the cut design: this causes the design to become 3D, and to stand out from the leather. The speed and movement causes 'burnishing', a change in colour of the carved area.

the leather is now bevelled and carved

Different tools and a stylus are then used to finish off the pattern, to create scales, background effects, water patterns, and to finish off the 3D effect. I usually experiment a little on scrap leather until I get the effect I am looking for.

experimenting with different tools to create the desired effect on the leather

Finally the carved leather cut out is prepared for finishing - in this case, the bible cover needs holes around the edges so that the inserts can be stitched with leather cord.

holes are punched in the leather so it is ready for stitching

To complete the piece, a dye can be used to colour the leather, or to keep the natural look and bring out the pattern, the leather is finished with a laquer to protect the finish, and prevent staining from water, or every day dirt and wear and tear.

the finished carved leather bible cover

About Cornish Leather Crafts

Cornish Leather Crafts is a hobby. This hobby has an end product (and, we think, a rather good one), but what to do with the products? There is only so much you want to keep for yourself, and I am sure after the first few gifts, friends and family no longer want more leather for Christmas, and so we have decided to set up a shop to see how it goes.

The cost of our products to the end consumer takes into account the cost of the leather and any findings, plus an hourly fee of £8. Therefore, a belt using £10 worth of leather, £2.50 of 'findings' and taking 2 hours to carve would be priced at £28.50. We hope you agree this is a fair price.

As the leather is a natural product, it may come with some blemishes, but this is all part of the style and character of the material. If looked after, (a common leather balm or saddle soap should do the trick) our products should last for many years.