Saturday, August 10, 2019

TOOLED LEATHER - Then and Now? E. Ayers

What exactly is it and how did that design get on the leather?
Tooling just means that the leather has been changed to create a design on the leather. That might be initials or a very elaborate pattern. Leather that is being tooled in usually made from several layers of leather glued together much like plywood. Then the leather is pressed or gouged with special tools. Vegetable processed leather is softer and makes it easier to alter the leather and most tooled leather is process with vegetables. Today we see leather that had been painted or airbrushed. That’s not tooling. The leather has to be pressed or cut to be considered tooled.
Tooled leather dates back to the Egyptian tombs. The Moors tooled leather as did the Aztecs. Its found all over the world throughout the ages. But our American West is known for tooled leather. Leather chaps were worn to protect legs from cactus thorns and other thorny plants. Saddles were where most men spent their day. Much like today’s pickup trucks decked out with bumper stickers, window decorations, or license plate frames, tooling was a way for men to express themselves. They’d get their initials embedded into their saddle. They loved their chaps, belts, gun belts, vests, and especially their tooled boots. There was pride and prestige in their tooling.
The process that permitted tooling also made leather softer, more pliable, and
longer lasting. It also waterproofed leather. Leather-bound books were tooled. If it was made from leather, chances are it was tooled.
It’s an art form! And the people who create tooled leather are artists. Even today, tooled leather can be found on ladies handbags and other accessories. Animals, flowers, initials, and geometric designs are embossed into leather. Distinctive and beautiful, you don’t have to belong to the Old West to
enjoy the beauty of tooled leather.
Juan Antonio handbag

 Look around, do you own tooled leather? My boots are tooled. I have several books with tooled leather bindings, and a book cover that has been tooled. There's a half dozen belts in my closet that are tooled. I even have a pair of glasses with a tooled design on the case.  And I'm in love with that handbag!


  1. Wow, the art of tooling is Beautiful! Looks like you really have to have steady hands, and is so Beautiful! I enjoyed reading this and learning from it. Thank you for sharing this article. God Bless you. Have a Great weekend.

    1. Licha, thanks for stopping by. Much of it today is pressed (stamped)but still needs additional handwork. It's an art and the people who do it are very talented.


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