From the History
The primitive man, even more than 7000 years ago, made and used leather goods. He dried fresh skins in the sun, softened them by pounding in animal fats and brains, and preserved them by salting and smoking. Of course, the products were crude, made for protection than as fashion.
The Egyptians and Hebrews developed around 400 BC, the process of vegetable tanning that involved simple drying and curing techniques.

Under the Arabs during the Middle Ages, the art of leather making became quite sophisticated. Morocco and cordovan leathers were in great demand.

The ancient puppet theatre in the southern India used primarily leather dolls. The tradition continues even today.

Following the industrial revolution in Europe, power driven machines were introduced to perform operations such as splitting, fleshing, and dehairing. The chemical tannage were introduced towards the end of 19th century.

Evidence of shoemaking exists as early as 10,000 B.C.

Napoleon Bonaparte had his boots worn by servants to break them in before he wore them

The boots worn by Neil Armstrong for his walk on the moon in 1969 were jettisoned before returning to earth to prevent contamination

The original French version of the Cinderella story features a fur slipper instead of a glass one.

The confusion arose in the similarity of a French word for white fur (vair), which resembled the word for glass (verre).

Common Leathers

cattle, including calf and ox
sheep and lamb
goat and kid
equine animals, including horse, mule, and zebra
pig and hog
aquatic animals as seal, walrus, whale, and alligator

The process
The hide, left to itself, would rather decompose than become leather. It is cured of such inclinations by a dehydrating process (air-drying, salting, or pickling with acids and salts) before being shipped to a tannery.

The hide has about 60 to 70 percent water and 30 to 35 percent protein (of which 85 percent is fibrous). Tanning displaces water from the hide's protein fibres and cements these fibres together. Tanning derives its name from tannic acid found in plants (vegetable tanning), mineral salts (mineral tanning) or in oil and fatty substances (oil tanning)

The tanned pelt is dried, dyed, oiled and greased to lubricate it and to enhance its softness, strength, and ability to shed water. The leather is further dried and reconditioned with damp sawdust to a uniform moisture content of 20 percent. It is then stretched and softened, and the grain surface is coated to give it additional resistance to abrasion, cracking, peeling, water, heat, and cold.

The leather is then ready to be fashioned into any of a multitude of products. These include shoes and boots, outer apparel, belts, upholstery materials, suede products, saddles, gloves, luggage and purses, and recreational equipment as well as such industrial items as buffing wheels and machine belts.

Thanks to webindia,leather industry section:

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