When it comes to making a statement with your design, few materials can beat snake skin. The scale patterns of snakeskin are immediately identifiable from plain cowhide from a distance, and create compelling visuals.
However, what many laymen forget about when it comes to these intriguing and beautiful leathers is that there are many different kinds of snake skin to choose from.
Examples of exotic leathers that can be derived from snakes include:
- Karung Snake Skin
- Python Skin (Diamond, Burmese, and Short-Tail)
- Sea Snake Skin
- Whip Snake Skin
Just to name a few.
While most snake skins have a few common properties, such as typically being longer than they are wide and possessing a high degree of flexibility, there are many differences in the appearance and utility of each hide depending on the species of snake it comes from.
With this in mind, how can you pick out the right snake skin for your next exotic leather project?
To help you answer this question, here are a few guidelines to consider when picking out a snakeskin:
1: Panel Size of Your Project
The first thing to consider when choosing a specific type of snakeskin for an exotic leather design is the size of the panels that you’ll need to fill. While you can certainly stitch multiple hides together to fill a panel, odds are that you’ll want to use a hide that’s big enough to fill the panel with a single piece of skin to create a more uniform, “clean” appearance.
For this reason, python skins such as the Burmese python are very popular for handbags, luggage, and other projects that require large, highly visible panels. At around 3.25 meters long and 28 cm wide at the widest point, a single Burmese python hide can provide up to 10 sq. ft. of usable hide to work with, enough to fill all of the panels for a large handbag design.
At 1 meter long and 13 cm wide at its widest point, karung snake leather is plenty long enough to make a handbag, but the narrowness of the hide may pose a challenge. To fill the width of a panel, you may have to stitch a few karung skins together.
2: Scale Patterns
One of the major reasons why top designers use snake leather in their designs is because of the distinctive scale patterns that these exotic leathers have on them. Sometimes, a designer will choose a particular snake hide to work with not because it’s the biggest or best fits his or her panels, but because its scales fit their design concept.
Different species of snake have their own unique combinations of scale size, shape, and color that make them visually distinctive from one another.
For example, the diamond python has small, very regularly-shaped scales on its back, but the belly scales are wider. The back scales feature a color pattern that is very regular, resembling a chain-link fence or net pattern.
Compare this to a sea snake’s hide. Now, the term sea snake covers a large range of venomous aquatic snakes (about 60 species, according to Softschools.com), but common features include paddle-like tails for swimming and hexagonally-shaped scales. The scales tend to be uniformly small in shape.
Scale colors differ greatly from one species of sea snake to the next; some have ring patterns, others do not. These hides tend to be available in sizes up to 30” long and 5” wide, and are often bleached and dyed for an even coloration.
3: Hide Thickness
Another major difference between snake hides is the thickness of each hide. Some snake skins are thicker than others after the tanning process is complete.
Generally speaking, snake skins that are thinner tend to flex more easily and are easier to work with. Thicker hides, however, are more desirable for design projects that require extra sturdiness/durability.
If you need to know exactly how thick a hide is in your exotic leather order, contact the seller, and they should be able to tell you the average thickness of the hide, as well as its other measurements.
When you want to make a statement with an exotic leather project, few materials can match the distinctiveness of snake leather.