Tanning is the process that transforms animal hides into the beloved leather goods we all know and love. But have you heard of vegetable tanning?
Vegetable tanning is the oldest method of tanning known to man. It involves using natural tannins, which are organic substances found in tree bark, to alter the protein structure of the hide. This process strengthens, preserves, and adds color to the hide.
During the 30-60 day process, the hides are moved into different drums with tanning solutions of varying concentrations, and then treated with oils and waxes. The leather is then stretched, trimmed, measured, and can be refined even further depending on the desired finish.
Each tannery has its own closely-guarded secret combination of tannins for their solution, passed down through generations. While this traditional method is time and labor-intensive, it results in the most durable leather with a lot of character. It ages gracefully over time and develops a beautiful patina. And let’s not forget about that classic leather smell!
Yes, vegetable tanned leather may come with a higher price tag, but the quality and unique characteristics make it well worth the investment. So next time you’re shopping for leather goods, consider opting for vegetable tanned leather and enjoy the luxury of knowing you’re investing in a timeless piece that will age gracefully with you.
To ensure that your item lasts for years to come, it’s important to properly care for it. Here are some tips to help you maintain the beauty and quality of your vegetable tanned leather goods:
Avoid exposure to water: Vegetable tanned leather can absorb water and become stiff or discolored. Therefore, it is important to avoid exposing your leather goods to water as much as possible. If your item does get wet, blot it dry immediately with a soft cloth and allow it to air dry naturally, away from heat sources.
Protect from sunlight and heat: Prolonged exposure to sunlight and heat can cause leather to dry out and crack. Avoid leaving your leather goods in direct sunlight, near radiators or heating vents, or in hot cars.
Use a leather conditioner: To keep your vegetable tanned leather goods supple and moisturized, apply a leather conditioner periodically. Make sure to use a conditioner specifically formulated for vegetable tanned leather, as other types of conditioner may damage the material.
Store properly: When not in use, store your leather goods in a cool, dry place, preferably in a dust bag or wrapped in a soft cloth. Avoid storing them in plastic, as this can trap moisture and cause mold or mildew.
Clean regularly: Regular cleaning can help prevent dirt and stains from becoming ingrained in the leather. Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe down your leather goods, and avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners.
By following these simple care instructions, you can help preserve the quality and beauty of your vegetable tanned leather goods for years to come. With proper care, your leather items will continue to develop a rich patina and become even more beautiful with age.