Thursday 11 August 2016

Leather Label Making.

First select the leather to be used for the label. As a matter of course I edge pare. I find it easier to work with the leather edge pared in the bench top paring machine as the pared leather does not catch on the pass through. In this case the Scharf-fix 2000 (please see below) Though there are other bench top paring machines available. For edge paring I use a sheet of glass, in this case a shelf from a fridge. I prefer glass to a litho stone because glass is easier to keep clean, takes up less space, easier to store and is cheaper. I tend to look in skips or recycling units, in which case the glass is free or pennies.
For the majority of my label work I use goat skin as I can pare it down to my preferred thickness which is about 0.15 mm (very thin, so thin you can see through it) I find it saves time to pare more than I need.  The leather I do not use to make labels for a particular project can be saved to use for the next.

Once pared down, the leather is backed onto a thin paper. Bascially the paper should be as thin as possible. I use a long fibered repair paper, There are many available, I tend to use what I have. I always try to use a neutral ph. However, use what you can get hold of. Packing tissue paper is ok but do make sure it is neutral ph. I cut the backing paper with about a 2cm boarder on all edges. The adhesive I favour is a PVA paste mix of about 50% 50%. With the leather and paper being so thin there will be strike through. Have no fear, a good paste wash will help get rid of any paste lines and the like. The adhesive is applied to the back of the leather with the leather then placed in the middle of the backing paper.   This laminate is then pressed between silicon release paper for about 30 minutes.

After 30 or so minutes the leather and paper  laminate is allowed to air dry between  grey board with a light weight. Once dry, it is ready to drum onto a milled board. To drum on; PVA Paste mix is applied to the 2cm edge of paper around the leather on the reverse side. The laminate is then laid out onto  a cut piece of mill board with the grain or hair surface of the leather uppermost. Gently smooth the pasted paper out and allow to dry. As the drying process continues, the laminate will become taught... just like a drum skin...

Again, once dry,  a paste wash can be done. The paste wash I use for most of my label work with goat skin is a standard cold starch paste mixed with white or pickling vinegar, mixed until it has the same viscosity as a single cream. The paste wash is applied with a small ball of cotton wool in a gentle circular motion. Do not rub the paste wash into the leather. When the whole surface of the leather has a fine and even coat of the paste wash, gently pass ones forearm over the surface to ensure an even coat. Let dry and repeat.
The paste wash no only sizes the surface of the leather but also eliminates most if not all strike through whilst the vinegar removes any grease.

Before titling I apply two coats of glaire. Again, let the first coat dry before applying the second coat. Do not rub the glaire into the leather as it will just go into the grain of the leather and try not to leave bubbles. Let dry and apply a second coat of glaire, let dry and bring on the titling.

If there is any secret to label making it is to have the leather as thin as you can, thin paper for the backing. Gentle application of the adhesives, paste wash and glaire. Take your time and let things dry.

Once the titling is done, either by hand with single handle letters, type holders and or decorative tools or in a blocking machine the label can be cut to size. The paper backing gives a firm foundation without adding bulk. Edges can be cut straight without going out of square and the label can be applied to the spine or wherever with out distorting.

This series of steps works for me. It may not work for everyone. Many people have their own way of doing things, some may differ slightly others in all things......