This is really my shoe blog, but I’m not all shoes all the time (no, really!) . I do other things with leather too. This is a case I made for a pair of Historic Enterprises scissors.
The decoration is based on a rabbit and a hound on different items in Knives and Scabbards. I liked them so I put them on this.
The body of the case is two layers, the inner grain-in and the outer grain-out. The inner layer was made over a wooden form, then the outer layer was made over the inner.
The lid is a single layer that was made over a wooden form. Originally I made the lid in one piece with the outer of the body and cut it off, but that lid didn’t work very well so I made a second one.
The decoration on the front was done flat, the back and sides were done after assembly. If I were doing this again I’d do all the decoration flat but it’s been a long time since I’ve done something like this so I wanted to make sure it’d all fit. The decoration on the back and sides is very simple, it’s really just space-filling, which is consistent with medieval examples of this type of object. The animals were done freehand with a scratch awl, and backgrounded with a stamp made from a modified nail set. The stamps on the side are a lozenge stamp I made and the round dots on the back are another modified nail set.
There is a little bit of hide glue between the layers of the body. It isn’t necessary to hold them together tight stitching and friction between the flesh surfaces does that fine, it’s just there to impart some stiffness to the body of the case.
The next time I do one of these I’ll make up separate forms for the inner and the outer and lid. That way I can build the outer and lid in one piece and make the decoration a bit more consistent. It would also make the process of gluing the inner in place a lot easier. The glue is useful for making the case hard and a bit more durable.
I could water-harden the leather but that would compromise the decoration. Another option would be to water harden the inner layer over a form, cut it to length then cover it with a decorated outer layer. The full length of the outer layer can’t just be made over the inner because the inner is shorter.
The strap is a piece of what appears to be alum-tawed sheep or goatskin. It certainly feels and handles a lot like the alum tawed goat I have in my stash and doesn’t appear to be white-dyed chrome tanned leather. It was part of a bundle of leather that a workmate gave me so I’m pretty happy with it as a score.
The dye is modern oil-based black dye. I hate working with modern dyes but I’m having issues with iron-oxide dye stripping the tannins out of modern leather, which doesn’t have nearly as much residual tannin in it as period leather would have done. The result is very brittle leather and a very damaged grain surface. I haven’t yet found a workable source of strong tannin to add to the dye so I’m holding off using it until I do. Period dyes are all well and good, but not at the expense of the actual leather.