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Every scar tells a story about leather's origin

Monday, 19 September 2016 15:21:14 Europe/London

Did you know that only 5% of all rawhides are suitable for making Aniline leather? That’s because leathers generally bear the marks of their natural origin, from scars and wrinkles to insect bites and goad marks. These will all be more visible on the smooth surface of Aniline leather. 

But if your leather sofa, bag or item of clothing is made of pigmented leather, you won’t see the imperfections because they will have been smoothed out before manufacturing. In the case of corrected-grain leather it is possible to use hides that contained lots of imperfections. The leather is sanded, buffed and embossed with a leather grain to hide any marks. It is then coated with a thick protective pigment, which gives it a uniform look and feel.  

Hides with excessive markings may not be usable which means a higher degree of wastage per skin.  

Below, we have shown the different types of natural markings on leather

 

  • Dung marks - When faeces remain stuck to the animal skin for too long, they can cause burns. The skin area directly beneath the manure sweats, causing the pores to enlarge.

Dung marks on leather

  • Blisters or warts on the animal skin deteriorate the quality of the final product. Some of these can even tear during the tanning process, rendering the entire area unusable. 

Blister marks on leather

  • Horn blows caused during animal fights can leave significant marks. Injuries or scars can also be caused when farmers prod the animals with a pitchfork or a similar sharp object.  

 Injury scars on leather

  • Barbed wire fences also cause scars. Other sharp parts of plants such as thorns or branches also cause similar looking scars.  

Barbed wire fence scars on leather

  • Tick bites and stings of other insects appear as small surface damages on the skin 

 Tick bite scars on leather

  • Cattle and deer are prone to attack by parasitic warble flies.  They lay eggs on the animals’ forelegs and when the larvae hatch they penetrate the skin, migrating throughout the connective tissues. After a few months, the larvae travel back to the skin surface and cause unsightly swellings. When breaking through the skin, the fly leaves holes, leaving visible scars. 

 Parasite scars on leather

  • Neck wrinkles and creases are a normal phenomenon and do not affect the value of the leather. They occur in cattle in the neck and abdomen, where the connective fibres are longer. Neck wrinkles naturally occur in a hide as a result of the neck stretching and contracting. The grain pattern is stronger in this area. When cutting the leather, it is essential to consider that the graining on the finished object is symmetrical. Any variation is usually intentional. 

 Wrinkle creases on leather


Other markings on leather that cannot be classed as ‘Natural’

  • Hot branding is a technique for marking cattle and other farm animals so as to identify the owner. Conventional methods are hot branding, freeze branding, earmarking, or tattooing. The hot and freeze brand is very painful for animals and therefore not allowed everywhere. Although, implanting microchips or creating ear tags can be substantially less painful for the animal and also do not significantly damage the skin for leather production. 

 Hot branding marks on leather

  • Scars caused by any surgical treatments on the animal skin are also sometimes visible in the leather.

Surgical scars on leather 

As customers, we all want flawless goods. Wrinkles, scars or differences in the grain texture are sometimes perceived as defects but they the natural hallmarks of where they animal came from – and what make each hide unique.

Posted in Info Articles By Ram Iyer

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Restoring leather seating at a top London restaurant chain

Friday, 9 September 2016 12:31:43 Europe/London

London restaurant leather restoration

A leading London restaurant chain asked us for help in tackling stains on their leather seating caused by food, drink and candlewax. Wear and tear had also taken its toll and the colour had faded.  

All premises in the chain were open 14 -15 hours a day, 7 days a week. Staff were extremely busy, especially at weekends and holidays, and were understandably unaware of the differences in leather and how to clean and maintain it on a daily basis. 

First we identified the seat coverings were made from Aniline leather. While Aniline leather develops a lovely patina over time, it is very sensitive which means it’s not the ideal choice for a busy restaurant. 

Why? Aniline leather is classed as premium-priced, high-grade leather. The hide is aniline dyed in a vat but has no colour coating added to the surface. This means the leather ‘breathes’ more easily and has a more natural, soft warm feel. 

Aniline Leather detail

Aniline Leather pores under the microscope

Aniline Leather water resistance

Aniline Leather water resistance drop test

Aniline Leather damages

Common aniline leather damages

The disadvantages are that it will bleach and fade under direct sunlight. Also, and more importantly, it is porous and absorbent, making it virtually impossible to remove stains by general cleaning.

Below, we have shown some examples of damage on the restaurant seating area.

Restoration Process

Most stains were stubborn and impossible to remove, even with our stain removal products. The only option was to spray a layer of pigmentation on the surface to hide the stains. We were conscious that by doing this we would essentially be altering the character of the leather. The challenge was to restore and refresh the colour but also to maintain the look and feel of this beautiful leather. Spraying colour and top coats can also make the surface feel extremely rough. The restaurant opening hours meant we could only carry out the work at night. This was particularly difficult because colour matching is best done in daylight. The restaurant also needed all the seating to be available during opening. We knew we had our work cut out to deliver this in time. 

  • Step 1 - Degrease using COLOURLOCK Leather Cleaning Spirit
  • Step 2 - Treat water stains with COLOURLOCK Aniline Water Stain Remover
  • Step 3 - Spray COLOURLOCK Primer Plus to ensure the colour adheres to the surface(Specially formulated for Aniline leather)
  • Step 4 - Spray a very thin layer of colour at specific angles to hide the stains yet maintain the look.
  • Step 5 - Gently sand the surface using COLOURLOCK Sanding Pad to remove any roughness and even out the finish
  • Step 6 - Spray COLOURLOCK Top Coat Gloss mixed with Crosslinker IC2 to seal the treatment. 
  • Step 7 - Certain areas where still rough and were treated with specialist products to provide a smooth finish when the customers of the restaurants touch the leather.  

It took us roughly 5 nights per restaurant but at the end of it we were happy with the results and more importantly, so were the owners! 

London restaurant leather restoration
London restaurant leather before & after
Posted in Info Articles By Ram Iyer

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