Leather is a natural product and just like us, the animals it came from will have wrinkles and scars all over their skin. It should be expected that you will find small imperfections on most leather.
High-end leather tanneries and leather goods manufacturers only use the cleanest hides, which is actually a small amount of the leather being produced.
That's partly why they're able to price their leather and goods so much higher than many others. It takes time and effort to sort through and find only the best hides. And frankly, the product is essentially spotless once they're done with it.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find beauty in the imperfections.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common marks and imperfections you may see when shopping for leather.
Insect bites come in many shapes and sizes and are some of the most common markings you will find. They can come from flies, ticks, mosquitos, and more.
These are healed cuts, typically caused by barbed wire fences or thorny brambles.
You'll often see these around the neck, shoulders, and bellies. Generally where there was a lot of movement or stretch. These areas may tend to have a bit more stretch to them than the rest of the hide.
Bulging veins can leave an imprint on the skin that remains even after tanning. They will leave a lightning-like mark, usually in smaller areas of the hide.
Since most leather is a by-product of the food industry, these marks will show up on hides often. These were used by ranchers and farmers to show where the cow belonged. Of course these aren’t really “natural” but they are commonly found on hides.
It is important to note that these blemishes do not typically weaken or ruin the leather. Hides with these marks will stand up to everyday wear and tear. As a matter of fact, there are many leatherworkers out there that love to incorporate the natural markings of their hides, as it makes the pieces they create unique and one of a kind.
Not to mention it's a surefire way to know your product was made with real, top-grain/full grain leather.
These marks are generally located in small areas of the hides and can easily be worked around should you prefer a smooth finish throughout. However, if a hide is riddled with them, you will find it listed as "rustic" or "grunge" on our website.
So what do you think? Do you like the markings and think they bring some character, or do you prefer a spotless finish on your leather?
Like most things, it truly comes down to preference. There’s nothing wrong with wanting everything to have as smooth a finish as possible, just as there is nothing wrong with wanting to embrace all the imperfections. Use what works best for your and your style of leather working!