Embossing a Bird

Here are the first photographs of my latest embossing project: embossing a grey African Hornbil.

The first two photos show the design transfered to the leather, cut with a swivel knife and all the key lines beveled. The purpose of this is to be able to see the design outline on the back of the leather. So the leather needs to be well cased – the water has to penetrate right through the thickness of the leather.

The leather used is a 4oz Royal Meadow Tooling Cowhide – beautiful soft stuff that ‘almost carves itself’!

The Design
First Bevelling

The beveling shows on the flesh side of the leather.

On the Back

I trace the plug on a thicker leather and make sure I trace all the important lines of the design so that I have guides to help me sculpt the plug. After tracing, I cut the plug out smaller than the original design. I reduce the size of the design for the plug by the thickness of the leather that will be over the plug – that piece that I beveled the original design on.

Plug Cut Out
Smaller by Thickness

A French Edge Beveler and a scalpel blade are now used to shape the plug – this is done like a panel sculpture and you need to take care to so it with as much perfection as you want to show in the final carving. Even the slightest bumps show through to the surface. The sharpness of these tools are absolutely crucial to the success of this step.

Sculpting

You will see that I did not include the tail of the bird in the plug – according to the photo the tail is in the background and so I want that to be clearly ‘in the background’.

Plug Ready

Now the outline on the back of the tooling piece is covered in rubber cement and the plug turned front side down to be glued in place. Carefully place it in the outlines you see at the back. I use rubber cement so that at this point the gluing is not very permanent and you can still move it.

An optional step before this, is to stretch the inside of the design a bit by rolling the leather over a small marble rolling on a flat surface.

Glued on Back

The rest to follow soon!