What do all the weird leather descriptive terms on your website mean?

  • Pullup: When a leather has a pullup it means that where the leather stretches a shift in the colour of the leather can be seen. So, when you force a finger up through the back the the leather you are 'pulling up' another colour in the leather. This creates a 'marbled' sort of look to the colour of the leather where it would otherwise be one solid tone. Tallows, waxes, and oils are dispersed when the fibres are stretched and this is what creates the ‘mottled’ colour variation of a pullup leather.

  • Full Grain vs. Top Grain: Full grain leathers have been plated heavily during the tanning process but have not been sanded, buffed, or smoothed out. When a leather is plated it is compressed, forcing the hide fibers down and created a smooth, glossy finish to the top of the leather but not necessarily ‘leveling’ the leather in thickness or manipulating the original grain in any way. All of the strength of a skin is carried in the grain layer which is why full grain leather is the highest quality leather available with the best durability. Top Grain leathers, on the other hand, are commonly referred to as ‘corrected leather’ which basically means some or all of the grain has been sanded away to ‘level’ the skin. Usually a top grain or corrected leather will later be stamped with some sort of a print to give it a very uniform appearance. These leathers are not nearly as strong as Full Grain leathers, but they can be very useful for work where uniformity is important - eg. auto upholstery, garment work, etc.

  • Open Grain: Open grain leathers - sometimes called nubuck leathers - are, unlike top grain leathers, plated softly during the tanning process and then lightly buffed after tanning. This allows the hide fibers to stand up, creating a micro-suede texture. When an open grain leather comes into contact with dirt or skin oils it is common for the particles to get caught in the leather, causing an aged look known as a patina. Open grain leathers are generally less waterproof than full grain leathers, however, an oil tanned open grain leather can repel water quite well. Open grain leathers also require a lot more conditioning in order to be maintained - which is why so many tanneries add an oil buff to any open grain tannings.

  • Waxed Leather: Many high quality leathers have been waxed during the tanning process, either by applying a layer of wax on top of the leather or by essentially boiling the hide in wax before finishing tanning. Waxes, like oils, tend to wick moisture and repel dirt from the surface of the leather and then hot-wax process can firm up the temper of the leather quite a bit. Generally this temper is worked out after use - a break-in period.

  • Oil Tanned Leather: Oil tanned leather is similar to waxed leather in almost every respect except, of course, oil is used instead of wax! Leathers that have a high oil content are, like waxed leather, water repellent and exceedingly durable. An over-oiled leather will leech some oils and pigment on contact if it is kept too warm or if it gets wet.

Where do you get your leather? What is an odd-lot leather?

The majority of leathers I used are sourced from a custom leather supply shop in Hamilton, Ontario called Tundra Leather. Tundra Leather stocks a wide variety of what are called odd lot leathers. Odd lot leathers are typically discontinued offerings - when a tannery approaches a manufacturer with a new type of leather it is common for them to bring a 'sample' of the leather with them. If the manufacturer approves the leather in question the tannery will commit to producing more of that leather. If the manufacturer turns down the leather it often happens that the sample rolls get thrown out or sold very cheap as “odd-lot”. This means that most of the leathers I use are one of a kind, one-off hides. Unfortunately this makes it difficult to replicate things I have done in the past, but it also means that each piece is entirely unique, simply based on the leather used.

How should I care for my new Gusset Leather item?

My personal approach to caring for leather is a less-is-more approach. Leather is a raw material, it is meant to change and adapt to the way you use it. In many cases the oil your item absorbs from your clothing or from your skin is enough to condition the leather quite nicely for the long term in most climates.

However, if you do decide to use a care product for your item I recommend natural mink oil and/or beeswax. Just like with waxed leather or oiled leather, each of these products will affect your item differently. Mink oil is primarily a protector - it is commonly used in applications where you would like to waterproof leather or where you would like to seal the leather off from dirt and grime. On the other hand, beeswax is a conditioner - it will help moisturize the leather, giving it a malleable texture and allowing it to maintain strength and proper elasticity. Just like skin, leather needs a certain measure of moisture and exfoliation in order to be kept in great shape.

Avoid oiling or waxing open grain leathers until after your item has a healthy patina. Open grain leathers will develop a "sheen" of their own after an extended period of use - this is a good time to start conditioning the leather. Conditioning the leather before a patina has settled in will result in a yucky layer of oil/wax being caught in the hide fibers without being properly absorbed and there’s not much you can do to remedy that if it happens.

I have a water spot on my item, what can I do?

Water spots can be hard to avoid, especially if you are caught in the rain with your leather item. Can you get a water spot out of leather? The short answer is no. Different leathers react to water in different ways, Open grain leathers should be left alone, since an extended patina will likely cause the water spots to disappear over time. With most other leathers the best way to eliminate a water spot is to work moisture into the rest of the leather, or possibly just the affected area. Using a wax or oil can even out the colour tones and cause the water spot to become unnoticeable. Be sure to understand what type of leather your item is made from before getting spots on it!

The leather on my item has spots and markings on it, what are these from?

Leather is skin. Just like people skin has freckles and scars and spots, animal skin also has freckles and scars and spots. Scarred spots on leather are generally the result of insect bites, injuries, or brands put into a leather by a tannery. Long lines of different colours are more commonly the result of fat deposits or stretch marks in the animal's skin. Different parts of a leather hide will have more markings than others; for example, the belly of a cow often has long fat lines throughout it.

How would you feel about using a vegan alternative to leather?

The leather industry is a by-product of the meat industry - nobody is harming animals with the sole intent of harvesting their hides, that would fall into the category of poaching. One can be opposed to wearing leather on principle to compliment their other views on environmental ethics, but suggesting that the leather industry somehow fuels animal abuse would be a serious misrepresentation of the way the industry works. I am not opposed to using vegan leathers or cork-leather/corrected leather alternatives, however, I just don’t see much point in compromising quality and durability for the sake of an enviro-ethical view which may or may not be indicative of the way things really are.



Do you have any of your products in local stores?

No. Unfortunately between custom orders and my online store I have very little time left to keep a local storefront stocked.

Can I pick up my purchase if I live locally?

Yes! Select the local pickup option at the checkout page after filling in your address or, alternatively, fill out a contact form to arrange a pick up time in the Burlington area.

Do you do custom work?

I love doing custom work, in fact most of the leather work I do is custom work. Fill out a contact form and we can get started designing something for you!

Is this your full-time job?

No, I work in the landscape construction field full time during the season from around April to November. While I do continue doing leather work throughout the summer I tend to really focus on leather more during the winter months when I am not at my ‘real job’.