Updated: Dec 22, 2020
In this blog post, I reveal my thoughts on why ostrich skin is not used more often in the leather crafting community. You may be surprised to find out why I think this is, and how we can change that!
Ostrich leather is among the most precious and expensive types of leather used in the luxury industry. Only crocodilian skins cost more.
It's easily recognisable thanks to the evenly distributed follicles on its surface.
Rightly considered one of the most durable, soft and flexible leathers, ostrich is loved by many designers who use it in their collections.
Leather goods made from authentic ostrich skin are universally recognised as luxury items, extremely long-lasting and truly prestigious.
Despite the rough look of the skin, it is very soft and can be effectively used on small to medium-sized products such as watch straps, wallets, organisers and handbags.
The skin is characterised by its unusual design. Its “pearly” effect is unique and gives your product a distinguished look, even from afar.
Yet I have a theory. I believe that ostrich skin would be much more popular in the leathercraft community if there was more knowledge about this amazing skin and how to work with it.
There is more information on how to work with, and design with alligator or crocodile compared to ostrich!
For a comparison, regular cow hide, calf and goat only take around half the processing steps of ostrich.
In addition to that, ostrich must be skilfully prepared by hand before tanning to retain the recognisable ‘polka dot’ texture that makes it so famous.
However, all these endless processes and hand skills doesn’t mean that your ostrich skin arrives ready to use!
If it did, then it would probably be more valuable than crocodile! So this is where your finishing skills now come into play, this is what will truly set you apart from other makers.
You see, the skin has very prominent quill marks on the grain side that we call ‘pearls’ (just like natural stingray) which left as they are, would make splitting and skiving next to impossible without turning your expensive skin - into a skin full of holes!
And it doesn’t end there. Ostrich skin has a loose and extremely fibrous flesh side that has to be dealt with before you can glue anything to it.
Attempting to glue a stabilising interlining for a wallet or bag directly to the fibrous flesh side can result in a loose, spongy feel that will likely end in de-lamination and collapse of any structure.
Though, when you are armed with the right know-how, this exotic skin can breathe new life into your craft and open up a new world of options and possibilities.
Think about what you would make out of this skin for a minute!
CITES free and different from any other leather, ostrich skin makes up only 0.02% of total leather production. Meaning your products will be unique and unlike many other makers out there.
And rest assured, the ostrich is not an endangered species! You can send your products around the world without permits, tags or filling out any annoying forms.
I hope this short article has been informative and given you new information about the ostrich and the amazing leather produced from it!
Oh and by the way, did you know there is going to be a course dedicated to teaching you how to work with this precious skin?
It’s true! I will be releasing course #1 on Thursday the 30th of July. There will be a *BONUS* PDF pattern pack included with the course, so you can download it and get straight into making the panels, gussets, base and top flaps right away!
Save time and effort and make the seemingly complex simple to understand.
This course will reveal:
How to prepare the surface before use.
How to remove the fibrous rear layer, even without equipment!
How to stitch across an uneven surface.
How to work your patterns around the premium ‘crown’ area for the choice cut.
How to to add an interlining and what to use.
How to edge finish ostrich, both cut edge and turned edge.
How to use ostrich to make a rolled handle.
..and much, much more - all whilst learning how to make a luxury handbag for yourself, someone you love (who will now love you MORE!), or your glorious paying customers!
Now you will be equipped with the right knowledge to tame this wild skin! So you can make simple and quick work preparing your skins before use.
This means that you can work with ostrich as easily as other skins familiar to you such as goat or calf.
To find out more about the handbag itself, how to prototype and what to expect when working with ostrich, check out this new LIVE video recorded a few days ago:
Thank you for reading!
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Keep your tools sharp!
P.s. To discover how you can master leathercraft in less than 3 hours per week in the comfort of your own home, click HERE to view the course guide. I'll see you there!