Very Fine Leather

I’m interested in exploring unusual materials in my textile art, and recently mentioned frog leather, six ‘hides’ of which a Uruguayan quilting friend gave me quite a few years ago. I didn’t know what to do with it, and heck, until then I didn’t even know you could tan frog skins. But clearly Graciela felt I would find it interesting to work with, and I’ve hung onto them for years waiting for inspiration to strike.

Frog ‘hides’ shown with a 15.25cm / 6″ rulethey’re not large!

Recently I was rummaging in the box that holds various bits of leather and found the frog skins in their ziploc bag, plus a lovely soft small hide with a gold-dusted finish I’d totally forgotten and now I am thinking of how I’ll use it in a pandemic pattern. I thought if I could get more frog skins I could now consider something major with them, too, and I emailed Graciela to ask if she could put me in touch with the maker. Sadly, the maker has stopped producing it and that business has gone.

Before her own retirment, Graciela’s business included repairing and making leather goods, and she mentioned she had many scraps of very, very fine leathers and suedes left by someone who used to custom make garments for her clients. The photo she sent of her bin of scraps spoke of volume and colour, so of course I went around for a visit at the earliest opportunity and came home with a large shopping bag of various blacks and greys, reds, oranges, magenta, and some lovely earth tones.

We hadn’t met face to face since late last year, months before the pandemic hit, so had a good catch up while we picked out the colours I was especially interested in, both laughing when I commented “It feels just like skin!” Sifting through those bits was very sensual.

Reds, magenta and orange against dark greyish greeny brown fabric
Red, orange and magenta against a couple of hand dyed red fabrics
Frog leather is very thin
Frog leathers above left, alongside some of the suedes and leathers in earth tones. Though not quite as thin as the frog leather, these latest pieces are still very thin

I made Pandemic Pattern by hand appliquing small strips of raw edged fabric, in a mosaic pattern inspired by the horrible sights we’ve all seen of rows of freshly dug graves. It’s since occurred to me the next one(s) in the series could be other pandemic-related shapes plus hand stitch. Being non-fraying, leather will be easier to work with, and I’ve worked out an efficient easy and fairly fast method of machining them into place. Once the hand stitch has gone into those holes in the leather, that stitching is pulled out – a total breeze using Gutermann Skala top and bottom. I have more than enough material to set out the pandemic patterns I’m thinking about for the series I have in mind.


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