Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Trendsetting Chicken Legs!?

Well I'm not on about fashion models having the skinniest legs ever - I'm talking about leather. I went to a presentation at Uni yesterday and saw all kinds of leather. It started off with sheep, sheep fur -Spanish, Italian and British. The British sheep skin is extremely popular in Russia where they make thick warm coats from it.
Then we saw pig suede in pink ad blue, then Goat's suede which was considerably finer and smaller.
The cow hide was huge! It was thicker and tougher than all the others. When the skin is removed from the meat (most leather is a bi product - the animal was bred for meat) it goes to a tannery. At the tannery they have to treat it to put in artificial oils and other substances that got lost when the skin died, otherwise the skin would fall apart within days. 70% of leather is dyed black. This process can take up to 3 weeks because you have to dry the leather naturally which in itself can take up to 3 days. When leather is dyed, the napped side has to go through a different treatment in order to keep it from scratching and soaking in water. You often see leather that is shinny, patent, metallic or foiled. This has been created by sealing a film over the napped side of the leather.

We then saw leather made from ostrich - one skin costing a massive £300! Alligator skins - apparently not illegal when it was bred for meat. This skin had a special tag on it to tell you everything you need to know about the particular animal to ensure you it is not an endangered species. 

The bottom left skin in the above photo is a sting ray skin. The bubble looking texture is actually hundreds of bone. The bright yellow skin is made from ostrich legs! This in the past has been used by students to make coat panels. The brown skin in the background is cow hide.

Above: Eel skins! Sewn together in panels.
Below: Clockwise from top left brown skin eel skin, black and white python skin, black python,brown eel skin, brown cow hide, brown ostrich leg and yellow chicken leg leather! 

W also saw cow stomach leather and skunk fur. All extremely fascinating but by the end of the session I became slowly aware of all of the dead animals lying on the table...

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