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How to Deboss Leather

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How to Deboss Leather

Summary: Become that boss you always knew you could be. Today we show you how to imprint a design onto leather. Fancy! 

Debossing is a fun project to do with a leftover piece of leather.

What is the difference between embossing and debossing? 

Embossing and debossing refer to the art of modifying a leather sheet with a logo. 

Embossing creates a raised image. The design is raised, pushing outward from the surface i.e. convex. With embossed designs, the image "pokes up"

Debossing creates the opposite effect, and is much easier to do yourself. Debossing is used to create texture on leather, essentially "caving in" the image. The 3-D image "pokes down" - into the leather. 

Where embossing is convex, debossing is concave.

The Art of Debossing

Debossing is used to create texture on leather.

Here we see three examples.

debossing on tree bark for texture

After dampening the leather, a craftsman uses medium and consistent pressure from a mallet, while holding a piece of leather up against a tree. The tree's bark etches into the leather, giving it a distinctive concave texture.

Debossing on Leather for concave texture effect using gravel

After dampening the leather, a craftsman uses medium and consistent pressure from a mallet, while holding a piece of leather down against gravel. The gravel's distinct porous surface creates grooves and etchings on the back of the leather. 

How to Deboss Leather

This artist used a metal plate and a c-clamp. Taking a damp piece of leather (note the blue sponge top-right) he simply applied the metal plate (in the shape of a bird) using the c-clamp. The c-clamp was tightened which made it affixed to the table. After 10 minutes the imprint of the bird was left on the black piece of leather.  

Working With Water While Debossing Leather

Warm water makes the leather more pliable. Before working with the leather, you want it to be damp. Remember to work the whole piece as you're working on it, just in case there is one portion that may get discolored as a result of the water's application.

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  • Alex Pop
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