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Full Grain Leather Characteristics

Full Grain Leather Characteristics

Full grain leather represents beauty in variation. The cattle that we get our leather from live full, adventurous lives on the range, and the markings on the leather represent that. 


When reading the website and looking at product pages, you may notice that we use the terms “character,” “variation” and “texture” frequently. We do this so customers are aware of the variety of markings on our leather products. These are not defects, rather they are unique symbols that make your leather notebook cover special. 

To put it bluntly, full grain leather is skin. Much like human skin, it naturally has moles, freckles, bumps and irregularities. When you look at a notebook cover and see variation, know that this is normal. In fact, some of our customers request for their leather notebook covers to have lots of variation! 


With that said, we always read customer order notes, but cannot guarantee that your request will be filled. Because leather is an organic material, we cannot promise that your notebook cover will have specific characteristics, or be completely flawless. We will always do our best to accommodate your order notes within our available inventory. Thank you for understanding!


During production, we are constantly looking for the best use for each piece of leather. Whenever possible, we try to keep the covers beautiful and strategically align the leather variation to blend in with the notebook. Variation marks may be visible on the front, back, or inside pockets.

Common leather variations on full grain leather:


One of the most common and distinctive characteristics of full grain leather is scars. Life on the range exposes cattle to a variety of daily adventures. Whether they’re scratching against a fence or playing too rough, cuts and scars happen. Scars can be dark and noticeable or small and light. These are not defects, rather they are signs of a life lived to the fullest. 

Leather characteristics scars and fat wrinkles


Just like it sounds, fat wrinkles are present on areas with fat deposits on the cow hide. In this example, the vertical lines are the fat wrinkles, although they may run in different directions. There may be a change in color or texture in the fat wrinkles, because those areas take the tanning process differently. Fat wrinkles are part of the reason why full grain leather is so special, because it’s impossible to imitate this characteristic.

Leather scars, fat rolls, striations


These are defined as a slight or narrow stripe, or streak, especially one of a number in parallel arrangement. Striations are beautiful, light marks left by fat rolls, stretch marks, wrinkles, and other natural functions the skin goes through as it stretches to create these stunning visual patterns.

Leather striations, leather fat rolls, leather stretch marks


Have you ever noticed small dots on your leather notebook cover and wondered where they come from? They are likely moles and freckles, depending on the size and shape. Typically, moles are darker and can be raised, while freckles are smaller and flat. Similar to human skin, there is a wide range of pigmentation in full grain leather.

Moles and freckles on leather


On some leathers, you may notice tiny divots scattered across the surface. These are bug bites that leave a tiny scar on the skin. As seen in this picture, they don’t have a color difference, but you may see tiny, textured notches where the bite pierced the leather. This is a normal occurrence that will not affect your notebook’s durability.

Bug Bites on Leather


Notice the dark vertical line on this book? This is an example of tannery and dye marks, made by roller machinery during the tanning process. While this characteristic didn’t happen during the cow’s life, it is normal to see these marks on full grain leather. 

Tannery Marks on Leather


This example shows the texture variation that may occur within the same leather. In the leather industry, we refer to textured leather as “pebbled” because it gives the effect of small stones. Instead of being smooth and consistent, Waypoint is known for a textured surface. Notice how the “pebbles” range from small to large, along with slight color variation. 

Leather texture variation


In order to identify their cattle, ranchers often brand their animals with letters, numbers and symbols. Sometimes the markings are clear and legible, sometimes the image is open to interpretation. These markings are highly desirable, and we keep this inventory separate on the Chic Sparrow website.

Check out our “Beautifully Branded” section here!

Notebook Cover with Branded Leather


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jane - June 15, 2021

Wonderfull knowledge for me.
Thank you for sharing yours.
Waiting for your new italian full grain leather in teal / darcy if it’s possible :)

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