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Working with leather is not difficult, and it only requires a few basic tools. The fundamentals are easy to learn. If you can measure accurately, cut carefully, punch holes, and learn to lace or sew, you'll be able to craft good-looking and functional items from a variety of leather hides. If you want to take it up a notch, you can engage your creativity and sharpen your problem solving skills by designing a project from scratch.

It's therapeutic

Becoming immersed in any craft allows us to focus on something other than what ails us. It provides an engrossing distraction from the stresses of life. When a project is well done, there is the added bonus of heightened self-esteem. The artisan that masters leathercraft will feel like a hero when someone in the crowd raves about his or her well-made item, and chances are there will be buyers for these creations, once you get the hang of it.

Doing leatherwork is grounding

The art of leathercraft is a particularly enjoyable hobby because the material is traditional, aesthetically pleasing, versatile, and somewhat forgiving. Fashioning a hide into a beautiful object grounds the crafter in a centuries-old activity. No matter what roots you come from, it is likely your ancestors in the not-too-distant-past preserved animal hides and fashioned them into useful items. You could say doing leatherwork is in our genes.

Completely handmade leather items are rare in today's culture. Many artisans design their own patterns and cut their own leather, but they sew the pieces together by machine. This may be necessary for anybody that is putting bread on the table by doing production leathercraft, but the hobbyist can relax and use simple hand tools, and still produce a quality product.

Leather is easy on the senses

We all like to be around things that feel good and the characteristics of leather add to the enjoyment of working with it. Simply put, it is easy on the senses. It looks good, feels good, and smells good. Natural leather is a beautiful material that no synthetic product can replicate, and each hide is unique in itself.

How to prepare for your leather project

Most leathercraft projects start with a good pattern. If using a commercially available pattern, read the instructions, put the pieces together, and understand how everything will come together. Think the project through before taking the knife to a precious hide. Small mistakes can often be compensated for with clever adjustments, but it is best to respect the material by thinking ahead. You can learn more about leather and get some ideas and tutorials from the links listed below, then relax and let your imagination and creativity flow.

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Lars Eidnes is an expert in the harvesting, processing, purchasing, and selling of leather hides and real fur. Through his business Eidnes Furs, Inc he has provided advice and supplies since 1973, to individual crafters such as rendezvous enthusiasts and muzzleloaders, and to costume designers, movie and film professionals, museums, government recreational programs, and more.

For ideas and tutorials for working with leather, check Leather Craft Central

To learn more about the material itself, see this Wiki

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