The processing of raw skins to the finishing of the product, every process is done without the use of any machines. The use of new techniques considerably reduced the odour of leather while it is prepared.
Raw buffalo skins and Goat Skin that are sourced from nearby towns of Nasirabad and Raipur, are first soaked in a solution of lime (choona) and sodium sulphate for about 15 to 20 days. This removes hair from the raw skin and prepares it for further processing.
The hides are stitched at the edges with a local grass, known as moonj, and filled with salt water and babool bark powder for the process of veg-tanning. This solution is changed around 10 to 15 times, until the hide becomes stable and watertight. The hides are then sun dried and polished with oil. After some scraping of the underside and dyeing, the hide is ready to be turned into the most desirable products
Bags and accessories, some in new designs and some in old ones, are handcrafted by the men and women, who divide their work equally. The beauty of leather work is that it is not just handcrafted from start to finish, the leather products are even stitched with leather strips instead of threads. Two layers of leather are first stuck together and then stitched by punching holes with awls, or large needle like tools, and leather strips are made to pass through the layers, binding them together. The leather stitches have a characteristic diamond shape that adds to the understated elegance of these leather products.
Even though one medium sized bag can be stitched in one day, with the involvement of two people, the processing of hides for preparation takes up one month and a lot of involvement. The outcome is sturdy leather, which lasts years and ages beautifully.
While environmental pollution continues to be an important issue, the younger generation may be losing interest in this traditional craft. Yet, as exports of these classy leather products rise, growing international acclaim will make this craft thrive for many more years.