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Aniline is the type of dye used to give the initial colour to a hide. Aniline literally means an absence of pigments, and may refer to the type of finish used on a hide.
Bicast is a split leather with a layer of polyurethane (vinyl) applied to the surface and then embossed. Bicast was originally made for the shoe industry and recently was adopted by the furniture industry. The resulting product is cheaper than top grain leather and has an artificially consistent texture. The use of the term ‘leather’ in relation to this bicast treatment is considered a misrepresentation and therefore not permitted in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Furniture made with bicast exhibits none of the characteristics associated with genuine leather; it will not develop a patina or suppleness nor otherwise “improve with age”. With constant use the polyurethane layer will crack and split free of its backing.
Bonded leather or reconstituted leather is a material made of varying degrees of genuine leather combined with other substances to give the appearance of leather at reduced cost. There are different types of bonded leather, but the type being used on upholstered furniture today is a polyurethane or vinyl product, backed with fabric and then a layer of latex or other material mixed with a small percentage of leather fibers in the product’s backing material. The leather content contained in bonded leather upholstery is about 17%. None of it is contained in the surface of the bonded leather. The polyurethane surface is stamped to give it a leather texture. In the home furnishings industry there is much debate and controversy over the ethics of using the term “bonded leather” to describe a vinyl upholstery product.
A mark of a simple, easily recognized pattern made by burning the cattle’s skin with a hot iron. Used for identification purposes, brands are normally cut out of the hides and do not appear on finished furniture.
Hides are often buffed with a large sanding machine to minimize the appearance of gross surface imperfections such as wrinkles or healed scratches in the finished product. This process makes leather more uniform, but also obliterates the natural grain and markings that make each hide unique and naturally beautiful.
Outside skin sand-papered to minimize flaws, then pigmented and embossed.
EMBOSSING / PLATING
Embossing or plating is the process that creates a texture on leather by impressing it with a pattern.
To make leather more durable, colouring substances are applied to the hide which provide abrasion and stain resistance as well as colour enhancement. This process usually involves three or four coating operations. Generally, the more finish a leather has, the stiffer it becomes. Aniline dyed or vat dyed leathers will tend to be softer than pigmented leathers, although this can largely be overcome by milling. Other factors affecting softness include the tanning formula, hide quality, and aniline used.
Aniline dyed and aniline finished leathers, have no pigments, thus all of nature’s marks are fully visible.
Unaltered surface of the hide which has been aniline dyed but has not been buffed or sanded. Only premium leathers are full grain.
Outer or hair side of the hide.
For upholstery, the whole skin coverings of large animals.
A hide that has been tanned to render it resistant to decay.
A natural softening process in which leather is tumbled in a drum.
The subtle markings on leather are analogous to finger prints. They distinguish genuine leather from man made materials. Other marks which can appear on the surface of leather are healed scratches and scars, barbed wire marks, stretch marks, vein marks, wrinkles, brands and insect holes.
Natural creases from the neck and shoulder areas of the hide.
This is a full aniline that has been sanded or buffed in order to create a nap. This is a top grain leather, therefore it is not considered a split or suede.
A leather that is usually vat dyed, but has little or no protective coat.
The colouring of a hide using a coating containing opaque pigments. This ensures uniformity of shade and resistance to fading.
A pull-up leather is one which, when pulled tight, produces a brilliant burst of colour. Pull-ups are full aniline leathers that have received an oil and/or wax application. When the leather is pulled, the oil and/or wax separates, causing the colour to become lighter. Pull-ups can have varying thicknesses.
An aniline dyed hide which has no finish. This is the ultimate leather often referred to as naked resistance.
A semi-aniline leather has been aniline dyed, then slightly pigmented. Because pigment is solid, this type of leather ensures colour consistency while having stain and spill resistance.
Pelt from young or small animal.
Slight abrasion of the hide’s surface, likened to removing newsprint from newspaper.
The underneath layer of the hide which has been “split” off from the top grain. It is then usually given a suede or pigment finish, embossed and used for shoes or garments. Split hides are generally thicker and stiffer than top grain leather, and may be used in less expensive upholstered furniture applications.
Hides are measured by square feet, one yard is approximately 17 square feet.
Leather finished by buffing with an emery wheel to produce a napped surface. Suede is not as durable as top grain leather.
A chemical process which converts the raw hide into a stable product. This process is often accomplished in large vats or drums.
Today’s upholstery leathers are tanned with soluble chromium sulphate. Synthetic tanning and vegetable materials derived from plants and wood (bark tanning) may also be used in combination.
THICKNESS OR WEIGHT
Measured in millimeters which, when divided by four, are quoted in ounces.
When a hide is split, the top grain is the very top layer or hair cell layer of the hide that possesses the hide’s natural grain. It can be corrected by snuffing.BACK