LEATHER TERMS - GLOSSARY
ANILINE – A transparent oily liquid dye that is applied to the hide by completely immersing it. This leaves all the natural markings of the hide. ‘Pure’ aniline implies that it is dyed through and has no additional coloring. ‘Semi’ aniline implies that it is additionally coated with matching pigment and/or other substances to protect the leather and create a blended equal tone.
ANTIQUED/DISTRESSED – Hides that are artificially finished to create signs of ‘natural’ aging and wear. This is usually done by placing one layer or dye over another. If done with a ‘light’ and a ‘dark’ shade, this is the contrasting effect. Embossing and other processes can be applied as well to create further ‘distress’.
BUFFED LEATHER - Hides that have had the top (grain) layer removed by abrasion. Cylindrical blades and other instruments are used to scrape and remove the top surface-can be done by hand but is rarely now. This leaves the surface as nubuck. Suede is done in a similar manner but on the under (split) side of a hide.
BUNDLE - 1 Dozen (12) skins or hides. Especially with regard to lamb goat, this is how leather is packaged, handled and purchased by suppliers and distributors. It is expected to be of the same production, thus same dye lot, weight and finish.
CHAMOIS - Primarily lamb-sheepskin split hides which have been tanned with cod fish liver oil (among other marine creatures) to create a soft, very water absorbent material.
CHROME-TANNED - Hides preserved using chromium salts (primarily chromium sulfate). This is done mainly to create a resistance to moisture. The process was developed in the mid-1800’s and it currently still the most effective and commonly used method for tanning hides so that they are softer, more flexible and receptive to dye color varieties. ‘Wet-Blue’ is a term often used within the industry, which is a reference to the hides ‘neutral’ appearance of a light shade of blue, due to the chromium content. It can also be combined (semi & re-tan) with other tanning processes, such as vegetable, to create different finished effects.
CORRECTED GRAIN - Hides that have been buffed to remove blemishes and in the process, the natural grain. Then, they are refinished through embossing and pigments or other processes, to simulate an attractive grain surface.
CRUST - Hides that have been tanned with just enough substances as to become nonperishable . They have not been ‘finished’ yet through other processes. In this state, they are prepared for many directions yet remain ‘neutral’ from specific use and ‘suspended’ from time and environmental effects.
DISTRESSED LEATHER - This term is generally interchangeable with ‘antiqued’. They are both creating more than one tone on a surface with contrasting colors. They will be different from tannery to tannery, with the certain desired effects being emphasized, most commonly to appear naturally ‘aged and worn’.
DRAWN GRAIN - Hides that have been processed in a manner to shrink them, creating an intentional ‘shriveled and wrinkled’ effect, emphasizing the natural grain of the surface. Commonly referred to as ‘shrunken grain’ hides.
DRUM DYING - Hides are processed with color in a ‘drum’ or large cylindrical container that spins and moves (tumbles) in a manner as to create immersion with the liquids, creating maximum penetration of the dyes with the natural fibers.
EMBOSSED LEATHER - Typically ‘corrected’ grain (top grain) hides which have been ‘stamped’ (with patterned, engraved plates) utilizing machined pressure, simulating countless animals, objects, shapes, fabrics and other desired appearances. The hides then have the actual textural surface effect.
FINISH - Any and all effects applied to the hides after they have been tanned, also implying surface coats if they are done. This is the final process, which can create color, hide imperfections and generally ‘protect’ the hide.
FULL-GRAIN LEATHER - Hides that have not been altered or corrected in any manner past hair removal. They retain the ‘natural’ grain of the animal, markings and imperfections appear on the hide as a result, along with texture that leaves the hide in its most ‘genuine’ state.
FULL - (ENTER TYPE HERE) TANNED - Hides that are tanned with solely one agent (substance). Many hides are tanned with a combination of processes, utilizing different substances to achieve the end-result. These are not.
GARMENT WEIGHT LEATHER - Hides which have been tanned to achieve the weight that is most often used for clothing, measuring approximately 1/64 of an inch, .4 millimeters, 1 ounce to 1/32 of an inch, .8 millimeters, 2 ounces. (see measurement chart)
GLAZED LEATHER - Aniline-dyed hides which have been ‘polished’ to achieve a ‘luster’ or ‘shine’. This is usually done with contact to smooth glass on steel rolling cylinders.
GRAIN - The (unprocessed) natural pattern on the hide, including all pores, wrinkles, blemishes, and other textural characteristics.
GRAIN SPLIT - The outer layer of a hide, when ‘split’ into 2 or more layers.
GRAINED LEATHER - hides which have had the original natural grain altered and changed in any manner by means of intentional manipulation.
HAIR - ON - This implies just that; the tanned hide still has its hair remaining on it. It can be trimmed and manipulated in various ways such as ‘acid wash’ tanning, but the natural hair will be present in some way on the finished hide.
HALF HIDE - 1 ‘side’ of a cow hide. Due to their size and various uses, cow hides are often split down the center (along the spine) so that 1 half of the hide can be utilized instead of an entire (whole) cow hide.
HAND - Generally describes the ‘feel’ of a leather or suede hide. Associated terms are its softness and fullness or conversely, its stiffness. It received its name most likely (I was taught) because of the process of using one’s hands to touch, feel and manipulate the hide in order to understand its characteristics.
HIDE - The entire outer surface of an animal. An often used and interchangeable term is ‘skin’.
LASER-CUT LEATHER - Hides that are cut entirely through (like perforation) though unlike that process, this one utilizes computer programs and concentrated beams of heat to cut limitless patterns into and through the material. The result is a slightly smaller hide (due to the heat and shrinkage) but precise patterns formed by the absence of leather.
LEATHER - A hide which retains its original ‘fibrous’ self and which has been treated and processed to preserve that state.
MEASUREMENT CONVERSION - 1 linear yard of material = 36 inches = 3 linear feet. A 54 inch single yard of fabric is approximately = 14 to 18 square feet of leather, depending on the shape of the hide. A 36 inch single yard of fabric is approximately = to 9 square feet of leather.
MATTE FINISH LEATHER - A hide that has been finished to obtain a ‘dull,’ ‘flat,’ ‘dry’ appearance.
METALLIC LEATHER - Hides that have been tanned and finished with a metallic ‘shine’ through the process of spray-on powders or sheet-like foils.
MINERAL-TANNED LEATHER - Hides which have been tanned by one or a combination of, a number of mineral substances, including but not limited to aluminum, chromium sulfate, potassium and zirconium.
NAKED LEATHER - Hides which have been tanned but only penetrated with dye, not surface treated.
NAPPA (NAPA) - Soft, ‘full’-grain tanned leather made from ‘un-split’ hides.
NUBUCK - A hide that has had the outer (grain) surface ‘buffed’ with a spinning cylindrical instrument to create a ‘velvet,’ ‘suede-like’ texture.
OIL-TANNED - Hides that are tanned with fish oils (or other marine animals). The effect is a soft, flexible, water-absorbent but durable material.
PATENT LEATHER - Hides finished with a ‘glossy,’ ‘glass-like,’ sometimes ‘mirror-like’ surface. This is done with adding several layers of synthetic resin (such as nitrocellulose), to create an impermeable coat.
PATINA - The ‘aura’ or ‘luster’ with regard to the surface appearance of leather, through time and aging.
PEARLIZED LEATHER - Hides which have been finished with an ‘iridescent’ luster. The result is a ‘pear-like’ appearance, hence the name.
PERFORATED LEATHER - Hides which have been stamped (with a die-cut) to create holes in a certain pattern (can vary in size and pattern). Semi-perforated refers to the same effect except the die-cut is only pressed to partially impress holes into the leather, leaving the material stretched but still present.
PIGMENTED LEATHER - Hides which have been coated upon the outer surface with opaque color paint (binding substances) to hide imperfections and create added durability.
PRINTED LEATHER - Hides finished with a surface material depicting words, symbols, patterns...the images are as limitless as your imagination. These patterns can be done in many ways utilizing technology combined with chemical substances that are advancing and progressing all of the time with regard to realism, accuracy and complexity.
PULL-UP LEATHER - Hides that are tanned and dyed with the addition of oils and waxes, so that when they are ‘pulled’ or ‘stretched,’ the tone appears lighter in those areas.
RE-TAN - Hides that have gone through the process of being tanned, then (as the name implies) have gone through an additional process of tanning over the underlying process with similar or different tanning substances and techniques.
SHRUNKEN LEATHER - (see ‘drawn grain’).
SIDE - Hides of cow which are divided in approximately even portions by cutting down the most centered point (the spine-backbone), creating 2 equal halves.
SKIN - Technically, this implies a ‘smaller’ or ‘younger’ animal hide but we at Leather Impact, use this term interchangeably with hide.
SKIVE - The process of thinning (by shaving and cutting with a blade) a hide.
SPLIT LEATHER - Leather made from the ‘flesh’ or ‘inner’ side layer of a hide. Mostly used for suede and more ‘delicate’ than other (grain-outer) layers of a hide.
SQUARE FEET - The primary measurement of most hides. (in U.S. measurement). 12 by 12 inch squares are combined to create the ‘overall’ area of the hide.
SUEDE - Leather that has been finished by buffing with an abrasive process to create a ‘velvet-like,’ ‘fuzzy,’ textured surface. Suede Split is the same thing but expressly implies that buffing is solely done on the split (inner-flesh) side of leather, which is most common.
TANNING - The process by which an animal hide is ‘preserved’ and transformed into finished ‘leather’. There are at least 7 different methods that are commonly used with numerous complex sub-steps to each.
TOP-FINISHED - Hides which have been given a ‘final’ coat to apply specific effects such as oil, gloss, waterproofing, among others; an additional layer of luster and protection.
TOP GRAIN - Hides which have had the outer layers of leather left ‘intact’ and have not been split. From here, splits can be cut. They have had the top surface removed and have been stamped with an embossing of grain, rendering them an ‘imitation’ but on a real hide. If there were the word ‘full’ before the others, this would imply no alteration to the surface.
TWO-TONE LEATHER - Hides which have had similar (sometimes not) contrasting dye colors placed in layers upon the surface. The common effect is an ‘aged’ look although it can also create a simply ‘dramatic’ and ‘exciting’ effect to an otherwise dull surface tone.
UPHOLSTERY LEATHER - A general term given to hides that are specifically tanned with the express purpose of being used for furniture, automobiles, motorcycles, airplanes and other ‘high-wear’ applications. In reality, there are countless uses for such leather.
VEGETABLE TANNING - A general term applied to different ‘natural’ methods of tanning hides. The production process utilizes the substances (tannins) from organic matter such as tree bark extracts (ex: catechol, chestnut, hemlock, mimosa, oak, pine, sumac, quebracho) to name a few from around the globe.
WEIGHT - A term used to describe the ‘heaviness’ of leather, measured in ounces. It implies thickness and is specifically based upon measurement in ounces, to a square foot of leather. It can be cross- referenced with millimeters and inches (see measurement chart).
WET-BLUE LEATHER - Hides that have been tanned with chromium salts, resulting in a ‘blueish’ appearance in tone. They have not been further processed and are in a ‘wet’ and ‘neutral’ condition, ready for a number of different processes that can be applied from
YARDS - The primary measurement (in U.S. measurement) of trim and other lacing. 1 yard is equal to 36 inches. It is also used in the measurement of snake hides.
YIELD - With regard to a hide, the amount of ‘useable’ material taken from an overall measurement of animal. There will always be some ‘waste.’ This can vary based upon the various uses and patterns being cut from the hide. The ‘return’ or what is ‘taken’ from the overall hide.