Last week I went on a spending spree through the town of Melbourne.
I bought many things, but the most exciting was half a cow. Apparently it was an upholstery cow, who would have thought cows had an affinity to interior decor.
This is the first time I have bought ‘new’ leather, previous books have been clothed in recycled leather or leather that has come from recycle stores such as Resource Rescue in Bayswater North in Victoria, Australia.
I would highly recommend the adventure. I went to Leffler Leather in West Melbourne, and was fortunate enough to have someone show me all the different types of leather available. Firstly the leathers are differentiated by the animal lucky enough to have their skin used. Then the differences are colour, texture, thickness, size and the chemical used.
Being a poor book binder, only just starting out, I went straight for the bargain aisle, admiring more expensive leathers along the way, and there were so many. I went for half a cow cause I would get the best bang for my buck. (no pun intended).
Mildly overpowered by the smell of leather and the fact I was parting with lots of money I chose my cow. I did not intend to spend so much of my hard-earned money on leather but the minimum purchase was half a hide, so I decided to go the whole hog and get two cow halves, brown and red. The red is a lovely deep cherry and I have already done one custom order with this leather. The brown leather is one that has had minimal tannery procedures to enhance the leather. You can still see the skin creases from the cow and it marks easily, but when you apply warmth the marks disappear. This shows the beauty of leather.
I use leather as well as board covers for my books and when they come with me to an outdoor market, I see the organic nature of leather at work. If the market morning is damp, many of the book pages tend to ripple a little (a subtle version of what happens to a book if you take it in the bath); but not the leather books. The leather acts like a skin around the pages protecting them from the little ravages of life and weather.
It is easy to see why people are enamoured by leather bindings and feel a book is worth more if it is bound in leather, they are always my best sellers.