Leather Processing is considered a Traditional job and the methodology involved differs from country to country. The process depends upon mainly the experience, and the available resources to treat the skin and making it utilize in a day-to-day life style.
Animal Leather is used from the Stone Age in all countries for various purposes such as clothing, bed spreads, floor spreads for comfortable sitting, to draw water from wells and to fetch water from distant places. Hence, the process differs from place to place, people to people, who were involved in hunting, chopping and de-skinning the animals.
Ever since, man found alternatives to his clothing needs, the animal skin found its way to various other utilities such as garments of various designs, shapes and sizes, bags, pouches and wallets, hand gloves, footwear, saddles and belts, etc.
Here is the method of leather processing in my own experience.
Normally, the skin after stripped off the slaughtered animal, finds its way in the market as processed leather within 3 weeks. During this tedious period, the leather undergoes various methods of treatment, right from salting for preserving the raw skin for the period of stacking and transportation to Leather Tanneries. Then, so collected raw skins are soaked in tanks of lime for a few days. This process swells and softens the skins to make easy removal of hair. Hair is shaved-removed after de-liming. From this stage onwards the skin is called leather. This leather under process has to be again undergo re-liming, bating, soaking in drums. For this process chemicals and tanning agents such as chromium, softening agents such as fat liquor etc. are used.
Modern Industries use large drums made of Teak wood (Sagwan), rotatable by electric motors for such tanning, softening and coloring process of the leather. The leather processed by these methods then put on hangars in a shaded place to get dried. The dried leather passes through various shaving, splitting, stretching, and polishing process till it become fully soft to the required level, color, and thickness.
Finally the processed leather is measured in Square Feet (SqFt) and DeciMetres (DCM). To have an accurate measurement, the leather is placed flat, fully stretched over the conveyor body of a measuring machine and passed through a controlled unit which electronically displays the measurement of the leather.
Leather is processed to the required softness. Every item of leather demands its own level of softness. Softness of the leather differs from product to product such as Leather Shoe Soles, Leather Saddles and Leather Cycle Seats, Leather belts for industrial, animal and human use, Footwear, Shoes, Sandals and Chappals, Leather Boxes, Bowls and Luggage Bags, Leather pouches, wallets and Ladies Hand Bags, Leather cases for several industrial instruments, gift items. All these Leather articles demand different level of softness.
Leather is called by various names during its process. The Leather Terminology used in and around Ambur :
o Skin – From small animals such as goat, lamb, sheep, deer, dog, hare,
o Hide – From a large animals such as Cow, Buffalo, Elephant
o Raw – Stripped animal skin with hair
o Salty Or Namkeen – Salted to stake for Transportation to Tanneries
o Limed & Pickled – Under preliminary process after arrival in the Tannery
o Chrome Tanned – Processed (tanned) with chromium chemical
o Wet Blue – Chrome-tanned leather in wet and swollen condition
o Pelt – Leather skin or Hide after removal of hair.
o Kid – Processed leather of small lambs and goats
o Side – one half of the full leather, generally divided vertically
o Split – The second and third layer of Cows leather or Buffalos leather
sliced with the help of a splitting machine.
Now the leather articles have become an affordable luxury. Be it functions of marriage, betrothal, or any other matrimonial, leather gifts are finding their way elegantly from home to home, office to office. Corporate gift articles, diaries, calendars, Laptop carrier bags, etc are now made using Leather and proudly presented to the top level executives. Waxed canvas bags