Also called estampar en caliente in Spanish, hot stamping has been the hot topic at Minku for the past few days. It started with the acquisition of a Minku die, cast in metal. I just have the die and its handle, no built-in thermostat or other adornment. The goal was to have some cool branding on the bags I made, something more sophisticated than sewing the name ‘Minku’ onto a sticker and attaching them to the bags.
What you need:
– die/custom-made leather stamp, which you can order online here
– heat source, eg an electric iron
– untreated leather
– water in a glass
– a sponge
– a flat, hard surface
How to hot-stamp a pattern, your brand logo, etc onto leather:
1. Turn on the heat source. Depending on how pronounced you want the stamp mark to be, the temperature can be 80 to 160 degrees Celsius. I just put the iron on max, waited for 5 minutes, and rolled.
2. Place the die on the hot surface, to start pre-heating. I use one that is forged out of brass.
3. Dip the sponge into the glass of water, squeeze it, and wipe it across the surface of the area on the leather where you’ll like the stamp to appear. Continue to swipe the sponge across the leather until its (the leather) colour darkens. If it doesn’t darken, the leather may be treated with a dye or other coating that makes it unabsorbent. I would advise trying another piece of leather, preferably vegetable tanned as this is most suitable for hot stamping.
4. Lift the die and place it on the leather. Apply some pressure, but try not to shift the die on the leather in the process, to avoid the parallax- reminiscent phenomenon of le double-stamp.
5. How did you do?
5a. The stamped area should be darker than the rest of the leather. This is a good sign. If they are the same colour, wet the sponge some more on your next try. Also, I placed the stamp on while the leather was still dark-wet. I read somewhere that you should wait a few minutes, but I did it this way and it’s what worked for me.
5b. The stamped area should also be pressed/ appear in lower relief than the rest of the leather. If it’s not, it is possible that the leather you are using is treated, or too thick, so try another piece if you have one.
6. Wait for the leather to dry.
7. Your stamped leather is ready for use.
The difficulties I was having: I tried stamping about ten different leathers, mostly treated. The relief was really little, and the imprint faded, becoming virtually invisible after about an hour:
Then I looked online and saw that you should use water. So I applied water with a sponge, and waited till the leather wasn’t quite so dark before stamping. The combination of this (I think) and the fact that most of the leathers were not vegetable-tanned, resulted in similar, faded results. At this point I was getting a bit frustrated because the die is quite expensive, and I was thinking there was something wrong with it.
Today I had a Eureka moment and decided to try stamping on untreated leather, and using just a bit more water. I think that because I grew up hearing that you should keep water far away from leather goods, I had been reluctant to wet the leather to the point that it darkened. But once I did these, everything else was smooth sailing. Now I’m happy, it’s 6am, and I think I will go to bed. Thanks for reading, and if you have had some experience with hot stamping, please share in the comments section.
Caveat: In the case of hot stamping, the heat and the water (and the nature of the leather) do most of the work. So don’t stress your arm trying to achieve ‘sufficient’ pressure, like I was doing. If you do the other things right, you can get a bold, visible press using minimal pressure. Also, many different leathers including chrome-tanned ones can be used for hot stamping, but the ones that take the heat the easiest are the vegetable-tanned ones.
If you would like to see the end result on some bags I made, you can see them here (opens a new window). Want to order hot stamping equipment? The folks at LW Custom Works will make you a die (from US$48) and mail it to you.