Monday, 26 October 2015

Learning Leathercraft with Jim Linnell – Lesson 7: Backgrounding, Mulefoot, and Stop

Join us in this weekly series on tooling a floral wallet back with tips and tricks from award-winning leatherworker Jim Linnell!

Find the free pattern for this project on the Leathercraft Library at



Materials Used In Lesson 7:


Mulefoot Stamps

Stop Stamp

Mallet or Maul

4-5 oz Vegetable Tanned Leather


A few things learned from this video:

The Stop and Mulefoot are two stamps that often get used together.  Stops work well in the junction of petals, creating a teardrop shape that gives an illusion of an opening where the two lines meet.

The Mulefoot is a U shaped tool with a beveled design that us often used in a series of impressions near the Stop.  With creating these imprints, gradually lighten the impression to give the appearance of fading out in to the floral pattern.

By adding texture between the gaps in your design, backgrounding helps the entire pattern pop out by adding dimension and contrast.

Backgrounding works best if the leather is almost dry, however there is still a little bit of moisture left in the leather.

For a smooth background, begin backgrounding around the edges of an area and make sure that the impressions are maintaining the same depth as the swivel knife cut.  After you’ve created a border of backgrounding, begin to fill in the middle by letting the stamp hop along and overlap impressions in a similar manner to that of the beveler and pear shader.

Take your time.  If you have done a smooth clean job up until this point and have a stray strike because you are trying to rush through the backgrounding, there is no way to go back and fix it.  Make sure each impression is where you want it before creating the imprint.


Join us next week as we complete the wallet back tooling with decorative cuts!