Nappa leather

Definition, history and origins of nappa leather

Nappa leather refers to lamb, goat or veal skin. It is a very thin, smooth and worked leather. It is the result of transformations into tannery. A surface treatment is added to its traditional treatment to protect the skin as much as possible. It is distinguished by its supple, grain-free appearance and its resistance to the sun and bad weather.

For the more curious, here are the steps of transforming leather skins:

  • First of all, salt the skins and keep them at a temperature of about 10oC in order to preserve them. At this stage, they can lose up to 10% of their weight in water.
  • 15 days later, the skins are sorted according to their quality (thickness, defects, weight, size ....).
  • They are then sent to tannery. This is where the "river work" begins, which consists of 5 operations: soaking (to get rid of the last impurities), waxing (to remove hair), peeling (removal of subcutaneous tissue), confiting (softening of the leather), pickling (acidification of the skin). The skin is then tanned (transformation of the skin into leather thanks to tannins).
  • The leather then undergoes a corroyage (chemical and mechanical treatment that give it its color, its flexibility .... ).
  • It is then wrung out one last time, and put in the wind in order to be stretched and dried.
  • Finally, the final step is called finishing. This is where leather takes its visual characteristics (its grain, its appearance, waterproofness ...).

After the technical part, let's talk a little bit about history now. Leather work is an ancestral activity. It originates in prehistory, when man wants to protect himself from the elements and begins to design clothes or huts. The Indians also use it to cover their teepees. However, the precise date of the beginnings of tanning is not known. In the Middle Ages, leather shops were all located near a river. The same is true for the first artisanal tanneries before the development of the chemical industry in the 19th century. This industry is becoming more and more important and new techniques are emerging. An activity in perpetual motion, advances range from the direction of protecting the environment and reducing its impact.

Its maintenance and features

Nappa leather is extremely pure and thin, making it vulnerable to the wear and tear of time. Although it is treated to be resistant, it must be maintained twice a year if it is to be kept intact. Leather jewelry pairs perfectly with gold or silver, and immediately adds a touch of character to the creation.

Regarding leather maintenance, here are our tips:

  • Cleaning the leather to get the treatment into the process afterwards. Use a lightly soaked cotton material to dust it off.
  • Use a delicate cream in order to clean and retain the original finish of your jewel.
  • The use of milk for colorless leather or even body milk or make-up remover. It cleanses the material and provides it with all the nutrients it needs to properly moisturize it.
  • Finally, protection with a waterproofing.
  • For more information, please refer to the following article on leather maintenance.

After depending on good practices, here are some mistakes not to make with leather jewelry:

  • Never machine it to clean it
  • Avoid exposure to the sun or near a heat source for too long. The heat dries out the leather and brightens it. Beyond the fact of the damage, your leather jewel can shrink, hello the damage ...
  • Be sure to store your leather jewel properly so that it does not come into contact with other jewelry that might scratch it.
  • Never clean your leather jewel with a sponge, a hard brush... or any other abrasive material.
  • In case of rain, avoid drying your leather from a heat source (fire or radiator), it will dry it out and could also distort it. Simply gently rub it with a cotton cloth.

Now that you know all about leather, find him in the sublime creations of art'emi !