Tooled leather Vs Embossed leather - The Secrets of Leathercraft

Leather is an amazing material. As a materials engineer by training, I am quite amazed by how the properties of this natural material stack up to other man-made materials. 

Leather has incredible strength, toughness and pliability. That means you can stretch it in wet conditions without creating defects in it, you can mold it and you can pound on it to create patterns. It also can take a good amount of dyes - which makes it a great medium for visual arts.

Because of these properties, leather-craft is a skill that lots of people practice as a hobby or as a profession. The best part, as leather is highly functional material used in apparel, shoes and accessories - it provides a perfect way of creating wearable art. 

The commonly used terms in the field of leather is tooled leather and embossed leather. Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably as the effect you see on the leather is similar - a 3D pattern almost like a painting on the leather. But if you look closely there are intricate differences that a person who knows the craft is able to see. 

Hand tooled leather sheet with floral motifs

Hand Tooled leather - Tooled leather also called hand-tooled leather is done by wetting the surface of the leather. Once the leather is soft, a pattern is hand-carved using knives, Then various tools are used to pound on the leather and embossed. Then the leather is painted or dyed to give the right color and then sealed to protect the colors from bleeding. Generally speaking, hand-tooled leather patterns are quite sharp and some truly artistic pieces also can show some shading with patina work and various color hues in the leather art. 

Embossed tan leather sheet

Embossed leather - Embossing adds technology to get an effect similar to that of hand tooling but with minimal man labor. In this case, heat and pressure is used to get patterns by passing the leather through rollers. Embossed leather generally does not have sharp motifs.


At Mochiis, we work with artisan groups and designers that are skilled in and perfected the art of hand tooled leatherwork. Check out our Sedona and Ellora collection to see our modern take on the age old artform. 

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