#theworkshop Leather crafts at Zacharias Art + Object.
By Alejandro Hernandez
At our workshop, we do every step of the production. It is based on teamwork, beginning with the designing part, we usually merge our minds to get originality in the pieces. It is crucial to combine the knowledge of the traditional leather craftsmen, and practical solutions that already exist, with the innovation and the artistic expression on a more personal level.
When working with leather, the production process starts with the selection of the leather pieces, we use at our workshop goat leather from Crete. These goats live their lives free on the mountains, and they are used for their meat and their skin. When selecting the leather we need to think about the final product, for example, we select the thinner and softer pieces for items like a big backpack, and harder and thicker leather for our hand sewed notebooks.
After selecting the leather we cut the pieces, we use a vintage press machine, made in Italy in the 70s. Still working great, and even better than a newer one. We use the help of metallic knives that have been produced for us with the shapes of the patterns for our products. The pieces are cut one by one. We try in this process to use most of the material for different kinds of products to create the less waste possible.
Once we cut the leather pieces, (we usually gather between 30 - 100 pieces of the same product). We start with the printing part, we do silkscreen printing, which is a very old process traditionally from China. It involves a mesh that is used to transfer ink onto a substrate, except in areas made impermeable to the ink by a blocking stencil. A blade or squeegee is moved across the screen to fill the open mesh apertures with ink, and a reverse stroke then causes the screen to touch the substrate momentarily along a line of contact. This causes the ink to wet the substrate and be pulled out of the mesh apertures as the screen springs back after the blade has passed.
After printing, we do the sewing part, in some of our products there is no sewing because they are built as origami, so the pieces are connected without any other material. Some other pieces like the leather journals/notebooks are made with Japanese bookbinding technique by hand. For the rest of the leather goods, we use a vintage leather machine, Seiko brand.
At the end we clean and prepare the items for being used, here are some advice for their maintenance:
Characteristics of Goat leather
Some people even believe that Goat leather has more durability than cowhide when it comes to taking a beating. It is suppler and softer because of the presence of lanolin in the leather. It is also more durable because it is water-resistant. Goat leather is warm, breathable and it's very comfortable to wear. It is also textured like a pebble and so it has distinctive ridges. Goat leather gets produced in a straight-grained leather form that gets rolled in the same direction during the drying process, and crushed leather is normally rolled and ironed to flatten the edges.
Nowadays many big brands are using goat leather for making bags. It is because the leather made up of goatskin is very soft and flexible. It is believed by the manufacturers that the goatskin leather is much thinner than cowhide and so it is very lightweight.
The bags manufactured out of goatskin are not stiff as those made from cowhide. They are very flexible and will move as your body moves.
... How to clean goat leather products?
Goat leather items are quite easy to clean. As they are water-resistant, they can be cleaned with a mild, pumice-based soap, but should not be rubbed, and once your bag is completely dry, for better performance you can apply leather conditioner so that your bag will last for ages. You should keep in mind not to store your leather bags under high humid conditions as they can grow mildew and near any chemicals.
Photos by Panayiotis Agavanakis.