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leather shapes leather shapes



Hand-tools used for decorating leather

Broad Dish - stylus Deerfoot - stylus Diamond - stylus Edge Tracer - Deerfoot Long Dish - stylus Small Dish - fine stylus Spatula - Dish

Modelling tools:- The purpose of the modelling tools is to impress (incise) a design in low relief on the grain side of the leather. The tools are about 5 - 6  inches long, and are either mounted in wooden or plastic handles. They are very often double-ended, with the second shape being a variation of the first basic shape, or a tapered point to be used as a tracer.

Incising consists of making shallow cuts (impressions) in the surface of the leather to create a pattern or picture. Artistically, it is similar to pen-and-ink line drawing. Once mastered, the technique can be used to create astonishing results.

Modelling (also called engraving) is the technique of shaping the surface of the leather when wet, using simple tools to produce a low-relief design. In the simplest form, it is like line drawing, using a dull point to draw the design onto the surface of the leather. This method has been used from the Dark Ages through to modern times. More complex low-relief modelling can be done with small spoon- or spade-shaped tools; this technique was used in the Viking and early medieval periods.

Stamping uses metal or wooden stamps, struck with a mallet, to produce a repeated design on the leather surface. Stamped designs are to be found on 11th to 16th century leather objects. A great many 14th and 15th century objects were decorated by repeating a stamped pattern.

A combination of incising, modelling, and stamping results in the technique known as cuir cisele˘, schnittwerk, or leather carving. This method can be used to produce very intricate decoration and became widely used in the 14th century. Many of the finest quality decorated leather items from the 15th century display this technique.

Punching and filigree is decoration by removal. Elaborate geometric patterns can be created by repeated punching and cutting holes in the leather. This technique was widely used by the Romans and again in the 16th century, especially on shoes.

Embossing is a method of creating a raised relief decoration by modelling leather from the back side. A variation of this technique was used to decorate leather book-bindings from early medieval times. The most elaborate embossed leatherwork is found on 14th and 15th century objects, where human and animal figures are frequently rendered.


The leather is normally slightly damp on the grain side to enable impressions from the tracing tool to be made. The transference onto the leather can be either from a paper overlay on which the design is drawn, or from a clear sheet of plastic on which the design is in relief. The first is traced on, with the tracing tool leaving the design outline, and the second by applying pressure on the back of the plastic by rubbing it with a modelling tool, or, holding it firmly in position, and gently tapping it with a mallet.

* Hold your craftaid (Craftaids are sheets of clear plastic with several embossed or raised designs on them.) in place so it doesn't slip and create duplicate impressions ruining the project you are working on.

How to use a craftaid

* To impress the embossed design into the leather, use a small spoon or modelling spoon. Firmly rub the smooth side of the craftaid in all areas you want impressed on to the leather.

* Your design is transferred. When you lift your craftaid you should be able to see a clear design… and you can begin carving.

Then by using an appropriate modelling tool the area surrounding the outline is depressed to leave your design in a low relief.



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leather shapes leather shapes