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Craft NSW

pewter . leather . prints at Craft NSW

 
 

leathercraft

Man has used the skins of animals to build shelters and provide clothing and footware since prehistoric times.

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Originally untreated skins were used but these rotted when wet and dried stiff when baked in the sun. With time, methods of preserving and softening skins were discovered; materials such as the bark of trees, smoke and grease. This method of preservation and softening is called tanning.

Today, we continue to use the bark of trees (usually oak or acacia). This is called vegetable tanned leather, while the more common commercially tannned leather is preserved with chromium salts.

Vegetable or bark tanned leather when wetted can be carved or incised, stamped, embossed or moulded. It can be heated when wet and shrunk onto a mould. It can be stretched and rolled, and when dried, the impression or form is retained. These special properties lead to the use of leather to make armour, to make horse harness, to write books on, to bind books with, to make water containers, boxes, belts, bags, furniture, garments and jewellery.

Almost all animal skins or hides can be made into leather by tanning. Crocodile is highly prized for its texture. Fish such as barramundi and salmon have decorative scaley patterns. In Australia, cane toads are tanned for their reptile-like skins.

 

leather for craft . kangaroo and cowhide

Kangaroo hide is reputed to be the strongest leather for its weight and is used in expensive sporting equipment, but the most common form of leather is cowhide.

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Commercially tanned cowhide can be split into thinner sections and rolled to a smooth even surface, it can be made into suede or embossed with patterns and textures to emulate other animal hides. It can be dyed and treated with a variety of colouring or finishing materials. Chrome tanned leather (or a combination of vegetable and chrome tanning) is most commonly used today as garment leathers, and to make handbags and shoe uppers.

Vegetable tanned leather, because of its properties of stretching and moulding, is used to make the soles of shoes and saddles and bridles. As full grain leather it is also the most commonly used leather in arts and crafts as braided, embossed, carved, moulded or heat formed handcrafted objects.

 

pewter

Pewter is an alloy comprised of tin, copper and antimony. Pewter in a less refined form was first used nearly 2000 years ago.

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It played a part in the development of civilisation as an artisitic medium and a material from which utilitarian vessels could be formed and used for domestic purposes or trade. It is an easy metal to work; it is easily stretched, compressed and formed into almost any shape, and unlike other metals does not harden with coldworking.

 

printmaking

The process of original printmaking is very different to making simple reproductions, which are photomechanical copies of original art works, and can be produced in unlimited numbers.

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An original print is made using a variety of media and techniques. Materials such as woodblocks or linoblocks, metal or paper etchings are used to achieve an original effect or image. Other techniques include engraving, aquatint, and drypoint.

All employ a process of incision or cutting, using knives, needles, acids or resins. Limited editions are published in the same way as etchings, lithographs and screenprints. The plates or blocks are inked to produce the print. Prints may be further manipulated by hand colouring. Once the plates have been used to produce a certain number of images, they are cancelled or destroyed. The prints are inspected, then numbered and signed.