Meet The Maker: How To Make Handmade Leather Journals, Notebooks and Sketchbooks

Hitesh and Carl discuss binding journal
Hitesh shows Carl how he uses a local natural mineral dye to give Scaramanga journals their characteristic rich brown colourl

At Scaramanga we believe in making classic leather journals using traditional tools and materials and most importantly of all, staying true to original book-binding and leather working techniques and traditions. Hitesh, who runs his own leather journal making business, in the Rajasthani city of Udaipur, was one of our first suppliers seven years ago and he is still making journals and sketchbooks for us. He has been binding leather journals for 15 years. His father and grandfather were tailors and his mother and grandmother were steamstresses. Hitesh was set to follow in their footsteps until his father was asked to make a leather belt for a customer. He helped make it and and soon discovered he had a talent working with leather. We thought we would share how Hitesh makes such wonderful leather journals for us.

STEP 1 – Cut The Leather. Cut the leather from using a template, scissors and sharp knife.

Cut the leather from large sheets of leather using a template and sharp knife and scissors
Cut the leather from large sheets of leather using a template and sharp knife and scissors

Step 2 – To get the rich brown colour Hitesh mixes a natural mineral dye powder with water and applies it with a sponge. After two applications he buffs the dyed leather with a brush.

STEP 2 - Colouring the Leather Cover. To get the rich brown colour Hitesh mixes a natural mineral dye powder with water and applies it with a sponge. After two applications he buffs the dyed leather with a brush.
STEP 2 - Colouring the Leather Cover. To get the rich brown colour Hitesh mixes a natural mineral dye powder with water and applies it with a sponge. After two applications he buffs the dyed leather with a brush.

Step 3 – Punch Holes In The Cover & Paper. Three holes are punched through the paper and the leather cover. We use treeless handmade paper, which has been recycled from cotton fabric from the textile industry.

Step 3 - Three holes are punched through the paper and the leather cover using a metal punch and hammer.
Step 3 - Three holes are punched through the paper and the leather cover using a metal punch and hammer.
Each Journal contains 20 sheets (40 sides) of handamde treeless paper.
Each Journal contains 20 sheets (40 sides) of handamde treeless paper.

Step 4 – Binding The Cover & Paper. Hitesh uses the common deep stitch method to bind the journal using a 5 inch needle and hessian or leather string. Starting from the inside the needle is puched through the paper and the leather cover then alternatively back through the two other holes.

Step 5 - Binding The Journal. Hitesh uses the common deep stitch method to bind the journal using a 5 inch needle and hessian or leather string.
Step 4 - Binding The Journal. Hitesh uses the common deep stitch method to bind the journal using a 5 inch needle and hessian or leather string.

Step 5 – Finish Binding. After the final stitch a length of string is left for wrapping around the finished journal.

Step 5 - Finish Binding. After the final stitch a length of string is left for wrapping around the finished journal.
Step 5 - Finish Binding. After the final stitch a length of string is left for wrapping around the finished journal.

Stage 6 – Embossing Tools. Journals are embossed with metal stamps before the cover is coloured.

 Stage 6 - Embossing Tools. Journals are embossed with metal stamps before the cover is coloured.
Stage 6 - Embossing Tools. Journals are embossed with metal stamps before the cover is coloured.

Hitesh’s Tools. Hitesh’s leather journal and binding tools

Hitesh’s leather journal and binding tools
Hitesh’s leather journal and binding tools

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