Printed Leather

Use your photos and designs and create personalized printed leather. Perfect for making that one-of-a-kind...

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Huge leaps forwards

Digital printing on leather has made huge advancements in recent years, and we are proud to say that we, too, have made advancements with it. Using top-of-the-range equipment and techniques, we can create printed leather of superb quality, and with our custom leather printing service, you can use your own photographs and designs to create stunning leather prints. We do all our digital leather printing in our London studio to give you the best of the basics.

What Leather Is

Leather is the hide or skin of an animal and one of the oldest materials we still use today. It has come a long way since its humble origins; we can now offer custom leather printing, but in the grand scheme of things, how we use and prepare leather has not changed much at all. Natural leather occasionally comes with blemishes or indents due to the way that the material is processed for clothing and accessories. This is entirely normal, and where possible, we avoid using the damaged areas of the skin in our digital leather printing. Although for larger prints, this may not always be possible.

Where We Get It

It's safe to say that we've now covered that leather comes from animals, but which ones? When you say the word 'leather' people in the UK tend to immediately think of adult cows, however, this is not always the case. The leather that we have stocked the longest is our stunning Nappa leather, and this is a full grain bovine-calf leather. In France, pig leather tends to be the most common.  You can also obtain leather from sheep, horses, lamb deer and elk. Reptilian hide is popular for its distinctive patterns, kangaroo leather is great for motorcycle accessories as it is resistant to abrasion, and ostrich leather is becoming increasingly popular as it features a 'goosebump' effect. In Thailand, stingray leather is popular for belts and wallets because of its durability.

Leather Preparation

Needless to say, we don't take leather straight from the animal and make it into a jacket, we can't go straight into the custom leather printing. It has to go through a process that we call 'tanning' before it can be used. It's a three-step process to manufacture leather in a usable state. 

Step One

First and foremost, you need to prepare the hide. This includes liming, which uses a drink and paddle to soak the hide in an alkali solution, which is immediately followed by de-liming, which uses an almost identical process to remove the alkali from the pelt and to lower the pH. It also includes removing all of the hair from the hide, de-greasing it, bleaching it and finally pickling it. The leather pickling process is usually done to help the tanning agents penetrate the leather during step two.

Step Two

This is the actual tanning part of the process. The tanning stabilizes the proteins in the hides which prevents them from rotting. A tanning liquor is used to immerse the hide in a giant drum. This drum is slowly rotated, allowing the tanning liquor to penetrate through the entirety of the thickness of the hide. Once coated evenly, the pH of the liquor is raised which fixes the liquor to the leather. This is known as basification and makes your leather more resistant to shrinkage.

Step Three

The third and final step is known as crusting. This thins and lubricates the leather. If the leather is to be colored that too is done at this stage. The crusting process finished with drying and softening the leather, and may sometime also consist of splitting, shaving, dying or whitening. Some tanners or tanneries might oil the leather to improve water resistance, however this isn't permanent, and the oils will wash out with over-exposure to water. 

Expansion is Key

Here at Bags of Love, we have put more focus into expanding out leathers. We have introduced more types of leather, including corrected grain, double butt, recycled leather board and more. Our leathers are no longer just bovine-calf leather, we offer both smooth and debossed finishes and we are keen to continue with this expansion project. We have introduced a leather swatch pack, which will be updated as we introduce more leathers into our range and are starting to offer more and more leather products and accessories, and not just the leathers themselves. 

Modern Techniques

Modern printing methods allow us to carry out digital printing on leather directly onto the surface of the material, eliminating the need to print onto a coating that is then applied. This works beautifully on all of our printed leathers and is not interrupted by the texture. Details are printed with superb clarity and fine lines up to 2pt are created with ease. Color reproduction is amazing, offering rich and vibrant tones. The prints become as strong as the custom leather printing itself for a fantastic personalized finish. 

strong fabric

Martindale tested for strength
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