Being from Australia, kangaroo leather is fairly easy to source. Due to its lightweight profile, extreme strength and high abrasion resistance, kangaroo leather is perfect for wallets! Kangaroo may be great for wallets, but it isn't the perfect leather for all jobs. I use cow hide for belts and bags. I also use Shell Cordovan for some of my wallets, as well!
The Kangaroo Skin
Leather is a natural product. Just as you go through life and gather scars and marks on your skin from the adventures you have, so do the kangaroos and other animals used in the production of the leather I receive. These cannot be avoided. In fact, like when you gather around the camp fire and tell the story of that one scar (you know, that one where you thought it was a great idea to ride a bicycle while trying to juggle four bowling pins??), the scars of the animal tell a story. I can't possibly know what that story is, but it's there, in the pages of history and quite literally written on the animal.
Having said that, not all parts of the kangaroo skin are suitable for use. Unsurprisingly, around the leg area of a kangaroo skin, the leather is quite stretchy. This particular area needs to be cut off and discarded. I make sure to keep all scraps so as to not waste them.
Belts, Bottles, Bags, And Barnacles!
Well, I don't make bottles or barnacles, but I wanted a catchy title for this segment, and... look... I don't know if I succeeded or not, but I like it.
Along with wallets, I make belts and sometimes bags! I could use kangaroo leather to make belts, but this requires cutting the kangaroo skins into long lace, and then plaiting it in a special way. This is a highly technical skill in itself, and one which I'm simply not great at, yet. So the belts I make use traditional bovine (cow) leather. Infused with a variety of oils, waxes, and fats, the vegetable tanned leather I use has a great feel and burnishes wonderfully.
Shell Cordovan is a very special leather. It is an equine (horse) leather and comes from the hindquarter section of the horse. What makes Shell Cordovan unique is that when you run your hand over the shiny side, you're actually feeling the Shell, rather than the outside of the animal. The Shell is the fibrous flat muscle section beneath the hide.
The lovely Shell is a very hard wearing vegetable tanned leather finding most uses in the production of shoes, boots, and wallets. Due to its high expense, larger items such a briefcases and other types of satchels are rarely made using Shell Cordovan.
As It Ages
Vegetable tanned leather has some great unique properties. As the leather ages, it develops a patina. This patina is greatly affected by the environment the leather is in. Sometimes the leather darkens a fair bit, sometimes not so much. Sometimes the shine it develops is quite substantial, other times it's only subtle. Every leather item is unique, and ages in its own unique way.