Leather crafting or simply leathercraft is the practice of making leather into craft objects or works of art, using shaping techniques, coloring techniques or both.
Using a specialist process, they make an amalgam of various leather varieties from selected animal hides, and only a selection of these are eligible for processing by Durlet. The tanning process starts with the hair removal and degreasing of the hides. They are then divided up into full-grain and split grain.
Leather carving entails using metal implements to compress moistened leather in such a way as to give a three-dimensional effect. The surface of the leather is not intended to be cut through, as would be done in filigree.
The main tools used to "carve" leather include swivel knife, veiner, beveler, pear shader, seeder, various sculpting implements, and background tools. The swivel knife is held with one finger providing downward pressure upon a stirrup-like top and drawn along the leather to outline patterns. The other tools are punch-type implements struck with a wooden, nylon, metal or rawhide mallet. The object is to add further definition, texture and depth to the cut lines made by the swivel knife and the areas around the cut lines.
In the United States and Mexico, the western floral style, known as "Sheridan Style", of carving leather predominates. Usually, these are stylized pictures of acanthus or roses although, increasingly, modern leather artists are redefining and expanding the potential of the materials. By far the most preeminent carver in the United States was Al Stohlman. His patterns and methods have been embraced by many hobbyists, scout troops, reenacters, and craftsmen.