What is Vegetable Tanned Leather?
Vegetable tanning is an ancient process with records of its use dating back to ancient Egypt. This process produces hides that are both stiff and flexible, making them suitable for a wide range of applications.
Despite some changes over time, the core technique of vegetable tanning remains largely unchanged. Initially, workers remove hair and fat from the skin and draw out water molecules from the hide. Then, they soak the hides in vats filled with natural tannins derived from sources such as tree bark or leaves. After several weeks of soaking, they remove the hides, eliminate excess moisture and shave them to the desired thickness. As a result, the hides take on a natural tan or pinkish hue.
If the hides are to be dyed, they undergo an additional phase of processing. Workers place the hides in large rotating drums and hot stuff them with waxes and tallows to provide rich color and durability. Finally, they spray the hides with protective waxes and sealants.
What can I do with Vegetable Tanned Leather?
Vegetable-tanned leather has a natural buff color and lacks oils and wax on its surface. This makes it easy to dye to your preferred color. Additionally, this type of leather has a firm yet flexible temper, making it ideal for tooling projects such as molding, carving and stamping.
In addition to these uses, vegetable-tanned leather is commonly used for a variety of other applications. For example, it is often used for making saddles, holsters, belts, wallets, bags, shoes, and purses. This type of leather is usually stiff at first but becomes more supple with time and use.
The Leather Guy is proud to have its own line of Veg Tan Leather called Artisan’s Choice! Artisan’s Choice is a high quality leather that boasts a sleek smooth top side, and a flush clean suede back side on all pieces.
When it comes to sizes, we carry sides, double shoulders, bellies, project pieces, pre-cuts and even earring blanks!