Art of Vegetable Tanning Leather at Wickett & Craig in Curwensville, PA
Vegetable tanning (vegtan) is the traditional way of tanning leather using tree barks and organics. Vegetable tanning process is a very delicate and long process, but results in a leather that is more durable and ages beautifully to a unique patina- don't forget to show us how our leather is aging using #betteraged. Since vegetable tanning is a long process, less than 10% of world's full grain leather is tanned this way. Most manufacturers including name brands use chrome-tanned or oil-tanned leather that can turn around in days, rather than months.
* Video clips have tannery background noise which might make it hard to hear the voice at times
North American Hides
Quality in, quality out! Our leather is made from quality North American steer hide. This ensures animals are fed well and not raised under undesirable conditions that eventually makes their hides not so good quality. Everything we use is byproduct of meat industry. Hides are shipped to tannery on skid with hair on. The only treatment before this step is pouring salt on hides.
Before anything else, hair has to be removed from animal skin. This process removes hair as well as some of the fatty tissues and excess residues.
Next step to hand cut excess fat and undesirable parts from the skin. Hides are then put into big drums for deliming process, which brings pH of hides low to allow penetration of tanning substances in the next step.
This step is when the magic happens. Hides are hung into tanning solution pits for weeks to allow tanning agents penetrate into the hides and tan leather. Hides remain in the pits for several weeks. Vegetable tanned leather makes less than 10% of all full grain leather, because this step is long, thus pricey. This is where our leather is set apart from other chrome-tanned and oil-tanned stuff.
Hides are then thrown into huge drums with dyes. Drum dying leather is the more expensive than surface dying, but ensures deep penetration of dyes into leather, thus a more durable and beautiful final product.
Hides are then stretched and toggled on flat surface and hung in a heated dehumidified place for weeks to completely dry.
Finishing English Bridle
"English Bridle" leather that we use for our products is one of the finest vegetable tanned leathers. As the name suggests, it is the leather used for making durable quality bridle products that have to be long lasting while gentle to horse skin. Best hides in a tannery are picked for English Bridle leather. After the tanning process is complete, English Bridle is drummed with tallow and a special substance that gives it the beautiful finish it has. Last step in making English Bridle is shown the video below.
With all the exquisiteness that goes into this process, tanning is a real art. That is the reason we source our leather from domestic artisan tanneries that have been tanning premium leather for over 150 years. Leather accounts for more than half of our final product cost and we can save more than 75% by sourcing full grain leather coming from overseas, but trust us we say they quality and longevity is inferior!