Honouring the principles of agriculture and zero waste, Atelier Wolfson never works with leathers which are farmed exclusively for their skins, or with chrome tanned leather. More than 90% of the world’s leather is chrome tanned. The method was devised in 1858 as tanneries looked for ways to speed up traditional methods and to save money. The chrome tanning process is usually achieved by placing hides into acidic baths which consist of a mix of chemicals, which in most cases means that the leather is no longer a natural product. These baths create masses of toxic wastewater, that when left untreated, cause huge environmental and extreme health impacts.
I am proud to work with tanneries that are members of the Genuine Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium - 'Consorzio Vera Pelle Italiana Conciata al Vegetal'. Our vegetable-tanned leather comes from Tuscany, a region of Italy that has been using traditional methods to produce some of the world’s finest leather for generations - www.pellealvegetale.it/en/
Complying with high standards of environmental, ethical and social sustainability, and carries a globally recognised traceable guarantee certificate printed with anti-counterfeiting techniques. The Italian bovine hides are a by-product of food production. To the strict adherence of the EU farming standards, the animals are humanely treated and responsibly raised, resulting in hides of exceptional quality. No animal is killed for its skin.
The vegetable-tanning process is metal-free, relying on natural plant based tannins to imbue the skins with their characteristic firmness, coloration, and earthy scent. Tannins come from renewable sources and are valued for their antioxidant, antibiotic and antibacterial properties. Natural vegetable tanned leather will naturally biodegradable with time.
Intimate Leather Information
Colour variation is inevitable with vegetable-tanned leather, as there are no synthetic chemicals used in this process to control consistency. Vegetable-tanned leather will continue to evolve through time. It will respond to light, as well as the oils and moisture in your hands, which means your art piece will age beautifully as the colour darkens and the leather develops a unique patina through use. Marks, scars, scratches, wrinkles, dark spots and texture differences due to the animal's growth process, injury, or fighting are normal textures and unique to the animal. These slight imperfections should not be seen as flaws or considered defects, but characteristic properties of this kind of leather.
Over time the tanned hide starts to take on a patina that is unique to its owner. The ageing process of natural vegetable tanned leather is a very enjoyable experience, and one that can be highly appreciated.
In Japanese the term for appreciating the unique and imperfect beauty of aged things is called Wabi Sabi. In English we might just say that these are things that “get better with age”, and the evolution of an object made of natural vegetable tanned leather truly embodies this spirit through and through.
After many years of working with leather, it is something that I have grown to appreciate and value highly.