Each python skin project is different. How do you know what kind of skin to buy, how to size the skins, and how to get the appropriate cut for your project? That's one of the hardest parts of the process, so we'd like to walk you through it.
The first decision you get to make is front cut or back cut. It’s a bit counterintuitive: back cut means the skin is cut down the back so you get the belly of the python skin with the wide scales running down the center. Front cut means the skin is cut down the belly so you get the back of the python skin so the scales are a more uniform size. This is purely a design and merchandising decision since there is no price difference between the two cuts.
With or Without Natural Markings?
Unbleached Python Skin
Bleached Python Skin
Now, do you want a bleached or unbleached python skin? The bleached skins cover up the natural markings of the snake (e.g., the diamond pattern on the reticulatus) so the skin is all one uniform color. Unbleached skins leave these markings intact. These are very different aesthetics. Since the bleaching is an additional process, these skins are typically slightly more expensive than the skins with the natural markings.
Size and Grades?
The next thing you want to think about is your yields. Since python skin is expensive, you want to make sure you utilize as much of the skin as possible. What is the size of your panels you need to make your product? Are they large panels? How wide are they? How many panels are there? The more panels you have and the larger they are, the larger and better grade the python skin you will need. Large handbags, upholstery and garments typically require large grade one skins. Small leather goods, shoes and jewelry can normally use smaller, lower grade skins which are less expensive.
Different species are different sizes but most species come in range of sizes. Diamond (also known as reticulated python) and Burmese pythons can be anywhere from two and a half meters to six meters, but the average is about three meters. When it comes to width, they range from 25 to 45 (or more) centimeters wide and the average is 30 centimeters. Blood pythons only measure about one and a half meters and approximately 25 to 32 centimeters wide. However, they taper less towards the ends.
The grading standards for python skin are fairly simple, and knowing these standards means that you can select the correct skin for your project.
Grades in python skins are fairly basic: there's Grade 1 and Grade 2. The grades are distinguished by blemishes on the skins:
- Grade 1 skins are free of defects in the center of the skin.
- Grade 2 skins possess defects in the center of the skin, such holes, scars and scratches.
If your patterns are small, you can often cut around the defects on the grade 2 skins for which you will pay less. If you have larger patterns, it’s better to stick to the better grade python skin.
Pricing the Skins
The price of python skin is primarily based on the size, the bleaching and the color/finish. Python skin is priced per meter length but the price per meter is higher for wider skins. For instance, if you're buying a reticulated python skin that's 29 centimeters wide, it'll be less expensive per meter than purchasing a skin that's 35 centimeters wide.
Another factor in the price is the bleaching of the pattern. If you want the natural markings of the snake bleached out so the python skin is all one uniform color, typically there is a small surcharge. In addition, there are surcharges for specialty finishes outside of the basic range of shiny and glazed. Examples include irridescents, metallics, garments, nubucks and more.
If you have any more questions or would like to price out python skin for your project, feel free to contact us. We’re ready to help!
Image credit: Mariluna