How Our Animals are Made
Designed and Manufactured in Lincolnshire, England by a team of artisans
Our Leather, full grain cowhide
Our handcrafted leather animals are made from full grain Cowhide leather – hides that have never been buffed or sanded, retaining the natural beauty and unique character of the skins. We do not hide the scars and wrinkles in the leather and aim to use the markings on our animals where we feel appropriate.
The leather is chrome-tanned and drummed to a specific recipe to meet our purpose. The resulting leather must have some stretch, but not too much, be of a certain thickness, but not too thick or thin, and have good fibre texture. We work closely with our UK based tannery to achieve these results.
We purchase whole hides of approx 50sq feet and mark out the pattern for an animal from the same skin to ensure consistency of texture, strength, and markings. As no two skins are completely alike, each animal will have individual markings that add to its character. The differences in texture/strength from one skin to another also explains how the size of an animal can vary quite considerably despite coming from the same original pattern.
Once a hide has been marked out, the patterns are cut out and passed to our highly experienced machinists for sewing. The animals are “left open” along the backbone; this is where we insert the metal and wooden frame which gives the product structure and strength and also the woodwool.
Woodwool is used to create the features of the animal. It is packed into the body cavity using an array of home made tools. Woodwool is a natural product made from planed pine trees. Typically it is sourced from Europe where there are extensive woodlands and replanting programs in place.
Assembly is the longest process in the production cycle and requires extensive in house training. It is physically demanding and requires an eye for detail along with patience and perseverance. The leather does not always behave in the way we would like it to and experience is needed to make the necessary corrections.
The animal is finished off by hand stitching along the backbone of the piece starting from the head end and finishing under the tail. You will see from close inspection that the stitching along the backbone is more open than other seams and this is due to the hand stitching process.
Staining and Polishing
The leather we receive from the tannery is coloured using aniline or semi-aniline treatment in which dye is soaked deep into the pores of the leather and the surface left unfinished. This differs from most leathers which are coloured using a process called pigmenting where a synthetic layer of colour is applied directly to the top of the skin giving the leather an even “flat” colour. This process masks all of the natural markings on the hide and removes the character of the leather. We want our animals to look natural and age with time and wear and tear.
To achieve the effect of natural skin colour variations, we hand stain our animals mahogany brown using a water based stain. As the leather is “unfinished” the stain is absorbed into the leather. We subsequently apply several coats of Nikwax Waterproofing Wax to help the stain penetrate into the fibres of the leather. This wax can be buffed up to give the animals a lovely shine. The wax is also extremely good for nourishing the leather and is recommended to keep your animal in good condition.
Because the colour is within the leather, the leather’s colouring will continue to develop and transform as the leather ages developing a lovely patina of its own.