What is this thing called Leather Embossing?
I think that the only way to even begin talking about embossed leather is by explaining how it is done.
Embossed leather is a manual artisan technique which uses different tools to work on the leather, by which you obtain forms with volume.
However, this is not the only way of obtaining forms and volume on leather, by using pressure you can get a similar result, (there will always be differences between the two methods.)
Embossed leather goes back to the time when Southern Spain was known as Al-Andalus. This technique was first brought by Muslims, and has been kept alive through direct transmission in the main cities of the South of Spain, especially in Cordoba.
Cordoba is well known for her embossed leather; so much so, they have developed their own style known as Cordoban and Guadamecí, although the technique differs from the one used in the school of Granada. We will talk about these differences in another blog entry.
In the past, embossed leather pieces where mainly used for adornment. Furniture, chests, hamugas...It is easy to imagine the salons of the Alhambra decorated with hamugas, made out of marquetry, another traditional handicraft in Granada.
Over time, workshops such as ours, enamored with traditional embossed leather techniques, yet at the same time present in the world we live in today, have managed to combine history by making up to date leather accessories. One such example to take into consideration is a brand/workshop from Cordoba called Meryan. If you don´t already know them, you can see their products on their website. However, we strongly recommend you to visit their shop-workshop if you should ever find yourself in Cordoba. Their collaboration with embossed leather for a limited edition for Loewe is worth mentioning.
One of the factors that have influenced this modernization process of embossing has been the new products that can be found today for the dyeing and finishing of the leather. In the past, with the existing dyes, the embossed leather pieces had to be on a rigid support, which prevented the piece from folding or bending, as this would make the dye crack. Nowadays, there are many options for painting the leather that prevents this from happening: dyes with an alcohol base, water base, oil base, acraminas….
If you have enjoyed this entry, and want to know how we, a Californian lady and her son ended up learning and applying these traditional embossing techniques from Granada to their products, you can find out in the next blog. It is a story full of coincidences and chance, along with a profound desire to create something different, original and exclusive, which began in a small village in the Alpujarra mountains of Granada, way back in the 1970´s.