by Willow Enright
I love to cosplay as much as the next nerd, and not just cosplay but use copious amounts of leather in my cosplay. I understand that some might have concerns about using leather, and if you do please read the previous blog, Cosplayers Concerns Over Using Leather. Now that we’ve covered that, let’s talk about how to incorporate leather into what you are already doing, or hope to be doing.
Keep in mind everyone has a different way of creating each costume, but if you’ve never put together a cosplay, this guide should be helpful for you. Always start your costume with a mock-up, create one piece at a time, and budget your time wisely. Most importantly, have fun! After all, that’s why we want to cosplay in the first place!
figure out if all of them need to be cut from the same hide, or multiple hides. You’ll want to think about which ones will be simple and easy to create and which ones will take, FOREVER. You’ll also need to think about which ones are essential to identifying your character, and prioritize properly.
Now that you have made a mock-up, prioritized your items, and outlined your schedule, you have a much better idea of what supplies you might need. You can now head to the store, online or otherwise, and choose which items will work for you. Only when you get to perusing you realize you don’t know whether you should get veg tan, oil, tan, and what the heck is chrome tan?
When choosing leather, there are three main processes to consider, besides which animal it’s made out of, vegetable tanned (veg tan), oil tanned, and chrome tanned. If you can find the color, thickness, and overall feel from oil tan leather that fits what you’re looking for, get it. If you are thinking about a chrome tanned hide, you should know that chrome tan is an unnatural chemical process that creates the final color that you see. Vegetable tanned leather is an unfinished and undyed hide that’s been treated with ingredients found in different vegetable matter, such as tree bark prepared in bark mills, wood, leaves, fruits, and roots.
If you are having a tough time finding that one piece that works for you, consider veg tan. The vegetable tanned is better for the environment and you can really individualize the piece you are working on, by shaping, tooling, and coloring. The downside of vegetable tanned leather is that you need more supplies such as leather dye and a leather conditioner, or acrylic leather paint and resolene finishing, to help protect it and keep your item looking sharp. However, you can wet form vegetable tanned leather to get specific shapes, whereas the chrome tanned and oil tanned leather you cannot shape in the same way.
Whatever material you end up using for your cosplay, just be sure to enjoy what you are doing!
I started crafting out of leather in 2011, and now I am making it my life's work. I am writing this blog to help myself remember some of the small steps in past projects, sharing my triumphs and failures, as well as my love of leather.