Dhokra + Kantha + Weaving + Leather + Printing + Jewelry + sasha skills

sasha craft >> Leather

Embossed leather products are made using vegetable tanned goat skin leather. Every piece is embossed using a metal die, after which it is individually painted by hand using spirit colours. Each product is then constructed by hand. The craft personís meticulous eye for detail makes every product unique. As the leather is used, the colours become deeper and the leather softer until it becomes an integral part of your life.


Embossed leather work on goatskin has been a specialty of West Bengal since 1940s. It is said that it was Tagore's daughter-in-law who brought this legendary art of embossing to Bengal from Java. It was in the 1980's, Sasha revived this craft unique to Shantiniketan and helped disseminate the skill other parts of Bengal.

It was Sasha's sustained effort in design & product development, technical and skill up-gradation, quality control and, most importantly, vigorous promotion & marketing drive that expanded the scope of this craft and created greater employment opportunities for the crafts persons.

Process of Leather

Vegetable-tanned leather is the only form of leather suitable for use in leather embossing or stamping. It is tanned using tannin and other ingredients found in vegetable matter, such as tree bark prepared in bark mills, and other such sources. It is supple and brown in colour, with the exact shade depending on the mix of chemicals and the colour of the skin.

In the embossing process used in Bengal, first the leather is washed to remove all traces of salt. Usually sheepskin is used, and is bought from the old Chinese tanneries in Kolkata. The pieces of leather are dried by hanging on a line and then stretched on the ground to give an even flat surface and maximize the work area.

The leather is then cut into the shapes required, using a cardboard pattern. These patterns are normally strung together and hung on the wall. When used, the outline is first marked, and then cut using a pair of scissors or a chisel.

Each piece is then passed through a skiving machine. This thins down the edges so that they can be pasted down, folded or stitched. Earlier this was done by hand using a chisel, which called for great skill. Today the skiving machine gives perfectly even edges.

To emboss the leather piece, a die is used. The moistened leather is placed on the die and the heavy manually operated iron press is spun down to make the embossment.

Next, the embossed leather is coloured. The raised potions are coloured using the simplest brush - a piece of rag wound over a stick. Spirit colours are used. The depressed areas remain un-coloured. In some patterns several colours are used. Larger areas are spray painted using a simple mouth spray.

The next stage is fabrication where the leather is stitched or pasted on to board, to construct a purse, box or bag. Fabric is often used for lining. This stage calls for very skilled and careful working as the glue used can stain and spoil the piece.

Accessories such as buttons etc are added last. The pieces are each finished with careful touching up, with a lacquer finish added in certain cases.

Tools: Scissors, Chisels

Tools: Sewing Machine, Rag Brush

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Dhokra + Kantha + Weaving + Leather + Printing + Jewelry + sasha skills