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vege tanned vs. Chrome tanned leather: which one? - Page 2

post #16 of 31
^Two?! Maybe eventually. My thought was that for travel I would use the black calf Alfred Sargent OneShoe and a #8 venetian loafer. Ron's pair does look great. And they're made in Maine, my dad's home state and where the aunt I referred to lives. Love the oiled sole too. But... I've already commissioned a pair from a wonderful student of Marcell's here in SF. My plan for now is to get all my clothes/shoes second hand from thrift stores or custom from craftspeople. Do you have any pics of your choomexcels after some time/wear?
post #17 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by emptym View Post
^DW, Do you have any thoughts on or experience w/ (1) cavalier chromexcel, (2) a venetian made of shell, and/or (3) another leather you might recommend for such a shoe? I'd want to them to be very durable for all kinds of abuse (like helping my aunt with gardening when I visit) but also very presentable (for wear with a sportcoat). Thank you!
I don't have any experience with chromexcel. There is a outfit here in the US that offers a leather called Horse-Lux from an Italian tanner. It is supposed to resemble cordovan in the break but it is calf. I've seen and felt it. It looks very good. It appears to be very similar to chromexcel at a glance but discussions with Horween have left me wondering if chromexcel isn't an older animal (it's cowhide). I would always choose the younger animal if given the choice esp. for shoes that want a dressier feel. Not much help, I know...
post #18 of 31
Horse-lux comes from ILCEA (in toscana?)
The same provider for John Lobb museum calf's.


I prefer real cordovan anyway.


Horweeen's chart
http://horween.com/assets/uploads/leather-chart.pdf
post #19 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
I don't have any experience with chromexcel. There is a outfit here in the US that offers a leather called Horse-Lux from an Italian tanner. It is supposed to resemble cordovan in the break but it is calf. I've seen and felt it. It looks very good. It appears to be very similar to chromexcel at a glance but discussions with Horween have left me wondering if chromexcel isn't an older animal (it's cowhide). I would always choose the younger animal if given the choice esp. for shoes that want a dressier feel. Not much help, I know...
No, that is helpful. Thank you. What does "in the break" mean? Which company in the US carries it, if you don't mind saying.
Quote:
Originally Posted by vitix View Post
Horse-lux comes from ILCEA (in toscana?) The same provider for John Lobb museum calf's. I prefer real cordovan anyway. Horweeen's chart http://horween.com/assets/uploads/leather-chart.pdf
Interesting. Thanks. Acc. to that chart, Horween's only veg-only tanned leather is shell cordovan, and almost all its other leathers are combination veg/chrome tanned. Do you have much experience with Horse-lux? Do you know any manufacturers who use it and on which models? Any thoughts on its advs/disadvantages compared w/ shell cordovan? I'm guessing it's not as strong or water resistant, but that it doesn't roll/fold as much. DWFII, if you have any thoughts on these Qs, pls chime in.
post #20 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by emptym View Post
No, that is helpful. Thank you. What does "in the break" mean? Which company in the US carries it, if you don't mind saying. Interesting. Thanks. Acc. to that chart, Horween's only veg-only tanned leather is shell cordovan, and almost all its other leathers are combination veg/chrome tanned. Do you have much experience with Horse-lux? Do you know any manufacturers who use it and on which models? Any thoughts on its advs/disadvantages compared w/ shell cordovan? I'm guessing it's not as strong or water resistant, but that it doesn't roll/fold as much. DWFII, if you have any thoughts on these Qs, pls chime in.
"In the break" refers to the creasing...the way it "breaks" when folded or bent. Charles Hartke out of El Paso carries at least some of the more common colours of Horse-Lux. I've used Horween's Beaumont and the latigo and one other (can't remember the product line...). I've also used the waxed flesh (Huntsman??) from Horween...used to use it quite a bit until I found a supplier of a "waxed calf" that was about as authentic as it gets in these times. [He's gone now too but the demand is way down too...outside of colonial Williamsburg...so I guess that's something else that's lost to convenience, indifference, modernity.]
post #21 of 31
^Wonderful. Thank you, DW. I think we'll look into the Horse-Lux, maybe try to get a swatch. Although... Now that I read your earlier post again, Horse-Lux is similar in the break to shell, means it will wrinkle like shell? The permanent wrinkles of shell are, to me, its biggest and perhaps only disadvantage. So if Horse-Lux takes a permanent wrinkle, but isn't as durable or water resistant as shell, it would have the worst of both worlds imo, rather than the best of them. What are the properties and uses of Baumont, latigo and waxed calf?
post #22 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by emptym View Post
^Wonderful. Thank you, DW. I think we'll look into the Horse-Lux, maybe try to get a swatch. Although... Now that I read your earlier post again, Horse-Lux is similar in the break to shell, means it will wrinkle like shell? The permanent wrinkles of shell are, to me, its biggest and perhaps only disadvantage. So if Horse-Lux takes a permanent wrinkle, but isn't as durable or water resistant as shell, it would have the worst of both worlds imo, rather than the best of them. What are the properties and uses of Baumont, latigo and waxed calf?
I don't think that anything will crease identically to shell. In one sense it isn't really even leather...it is not the preserved skin of an animal but rather a muscle sheath that sits under the skin of the horse. Beaumont is a dry retan that looks a lot like an unfinished calf. When waxed it could be mistaken for calf. It is not calf, however, it is cowhide and it breaks and wears like cowhide--more coarsely than calf, in other words. Latigo is a retan cowhide that is hot stuffed. It is not particularly greasy, however and it has good depth, and some variation, of colour. I like it a lot. Waxed calf was originally a prime India kip--vegetable tanned--that was curried and buffed on the flesh side. It was then "painted" with a mixture of warm sperm whale oil, lanolin, and perhaps a few other ingredients which I can't remember off the top of my head. The hides were left to age and "cure" in a warm room for up to a year. This process caused the compounds to disperse throughout the fibers of the leather and polymerize--gel, as who should say. The surface gel/grease was then "cut" with a mix of soap and lantern black--fine soot--which effectively dyed the leather black. No brown was ever made that I know of. The leather was used fleshside out...always. When the shoes or boots were cut and made, a sizing of wheat paste was rubbed into the fibrous surface and burnished. The result was a boot that was extremely durable, didn't need lining (the grainside was to the inside), took a brilliant shine (almost like patent), and didn't show the insults of daily wear. The downside was that it was extremely dirty to handle and make shoes from....one of the reasons shoemaking was, at one time, divided into men's work and women's work...and it required that one have a manservant to black and polish your boots each morning. Most modern variations are common quality cowhides hides, hot stuffed with common oils or greases, dyed on the flesh and then "lacquered." The lacquered leather I have worked with had a finish coat with a resinous ingredient but that finish was solvent based--smelled like aeroplane dope. More than you ever wanted to know...but perhaps interesting for the curious.
post #23 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
I don't think that anything will crease identically to shell. In one sense it isn't really even leather...it is not the preserved skin of an animal but rather a muscle sheath that sits under the skin of the horse. Beaumont is a dry retan that looks a lot like an unfinished calf. When waxed it could be mistaken for calf. It is not calf, however, it is cowhide and it breaks and wears like cowhide--more coarsely than calf, in other words. Latigo is a retan cowhide that is hot stuffed. It is not particularly greasy, however and it has good depth, and some variation, of colour. I like it a lot. Waxed calf was originally a prime India kip--vegetable tanned--that was curried and buffed on the flesh side. It was then "painted" with a mixture of warm sperm whale oil, lanolin, and perhaps a few other ingredients which I can't remember off the top of my head. The hides were left to age and "cure" in a warm room for up to a year. This process caused the compounds to disperse throughout the fibers of the leather and polymerize--gel, as who should say. The surface gel/grease was then "cut" with a mix of soap and lantern black--fine soot--which effectively dyed the leather black. No brown was ever made that I know of. The leather was used fleshside out...always. When the shoes or boots were cut and made, a sizing of wheat paste was rubbed into the fibrous surface and burnished. The result was a boot that was extremely durable, didn't need lining (the grainside was to the inside), took a brilliant shine (almost like patent), and didn't show the insults of daily wear. The downside was that it was extremely dirty to handle and make shoes from....one of the reasons shoemaking was, at one time, divided into men's work and women's work...and it required that one have a manservant to black and polish your boots each morning. Most modern variations are common quality cowhides hides, hot stuffed with common oils or greases, dyed on the flesh and then "lacquered." The lacquered leather I have worked with had a finish coat with a resinous ingredient but that finish was solvent based--smelled like aeroplane dope. More than you ever wanted to know...but perhaps interesting for the curious.
Definitely not more than I wanted to know, since I want to know it all. But as always, you give more than one could ask for! Very interesting. And what you said about shell being a muscle and so creasing uniquely makes perfect sense. Thanks again!
post #24 of 31
DWFII, given that you've worked with the horween's waxed calf (huntsman), could you tell if there is a way to bring it to a high shine like original waxed calf ?
post #25 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pam View Post
DWFII, given that you've worked with the horween's waxed calf (huntsman), could you tell if there is a way to bring it to a high shine like original waxed calf ?
Well, unless the process has changed in the last 10 -15 years, the answer is that it cannot be done. Any high shine depends on a smooth surface. The smoother it is the better the shine. Optical mirrors, for instance, are cast and polished to remove even the pores. Huntsman is leather on which the fleshside has been "lacquered" to create a surface that resembles the original waxed calf. I used to get a repair compound from Horween to cover scratches and scuffs for customers for whom I made bootsout of Huntsman. It smelled like airplane dope. The original was flesh stuffed with oils and waxes and the high shine was obtained by wetting the surface with "sizing"--something very like thin wallpaper paste--and burnishing the fibers until they were slick and shiny. The Huntsman cannot be handled like this...all that will happen is that the lacquer will be rubbed off. The lacquer actually freezes irregularities in the surface rather than remove them. Standard shoe polish will create a high gleam but if you want that mirror shine you'll have to spit shine the leather. Given the "fuzz"...good luck with that.
post #26 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
Once upon a time every part of the shoe was made of vegetable tanned leather. As far as I know, Chromium tanages, discovered in the late 1850's, didn't really come into common usage until the first part of the 20th century. Most high end dress shoes made in the 1920's were vegetable tanned throughout.

Many makers around the world still prefer vegetable tannage. If I'm not mistaken a lot shoes that are extensively antiqued are based upon veg tans.

Chrome tans stretch more than veg tans, but veg will hold a shape better. Veg tans dye up perfectly well although lighter colours are not always true to tone simply because the base is often a brown-ish color derived from the used of vegetable barks and extracts. In that respect chrome tans which usually come from tanning with a light bluish-gray colour are more often used for brights--reds yellows, etc..

It used to be that veg tans never had a finish-coat applied. I am not sure why. But nowadays we are seeing some finishes on veg. and alternate tanning (compounds) barks that impart a suppleness to vegetable tannages that rival chrome tans.

Most chromes are finished. This is essentially a "paint job" of varying degrees of transparency--sometimes it is nothing more than an acrylic wax; sometimes it is actually an opaque coating with a substantial amount of solids.

If a chrome tanned leather is not "struck-through" the core will retain that blue-gray cast and when the finish coat is rubbed off...either through abuse, accident or simple attrition...it will show through. And if the corium (the grain surface) has been broken and the shoe is any colour except black or dark brown, achieving a match between the abraded area and the surround is nearly impossible.

This thread is truly a seat of learning and although no expert, my humble thoughts are that veg tan was the original 'stone age' discovery when man found skins lying in pools of rotting leaves (oak predominately) preventing putrification, thus tanning was discovered. Chrome tannage once discovered led to a speedier process and therefore became a preferrable industrial process. That said the quality of the leather and the skill of the tanner and shoemaker play the more important role. A long established favourite tanner of mine here in England who I hope to be producing a new range from is J & FJ Baker who still tan in the long established way by laying hides in oak bark rich pits for months on end before any levelling and finishing is done. I believe some of the best English sole leather comes from here. Ready to be shot down in flames, Tim
http://www.jfjbaker.co.uk/
post #27 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimH View Post
A long established favourite tanner of mine here in England who I hope to be producing a new range from is J & FJ Baker who still tan in the long established way by laying hides in oak bark rich pits for months on end before any levelling and finishing is done. I believe some of the best English sole leather comes from here. Ready to be shot down in flames, Tim http://www.jfjbaker.co.uk/
Probably the best quality insole leather (shoulders) in the world. AFAIK, their soling bends stay in the pits for a year.
post #28 of 31
So if we want the best, longest lasting leather for our shoes, both soles and uppers, what do we ask for in this day and age? I work with a shoemaker who will do anything I want, but this is all a different language.
post #29 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frodo View Post
So if we want the best, longest lasting leather for our shoes, both soles and uppers, what do we ask for in this day and age? I work with a shoemaker who will do anything I want, but this is all a different language.
There's no clear answer to that in terms of categories like vegetable tanned or chrome tanned. In the case of insoles, outsoles, heel stiffeners and, toe stiffeners, veg tanned is considered the traditional and quality standard...exceeded in application only by synthetics such as celastic and fiberboard. With uppers, some vegetable tanned leathers are the choice for discriminating makers and consumers; but chrome tanned leathers tend to be what is most commonly employed. That said, very fine chrome tans are very fine indeed. And having said all that...it should be obvious that just because a leather is vegetable tanned doesn't guarantee quality anymore than being chrome tanned guarantees quality. Ask your shoemaker what he recommends...bearing in mind that "every form of refuge has a price". If you don't want to spend the money on "the best," there's still a price to be paid...if not so immediate.
post #30 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
Probably the best quality insole leather (shoulders) in the world.

AFAIK, their soling bends stay in the pits for a year.

Correct.
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