What is Shagreen?

What Is Shagreen? Manufacturing Faux Shagreen Home Decor Products

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We love the look in home decor and home furniture products manufactured with shagreen skin. Shagreen is a classic look that has been used on decorative items for centuries.

Shagreen is a rawhide that has small bumps on the skin surface. The shagreen hide was traditionally from shark and stingray skins. As both sharks and stingrays are endangered species, we manufacture our shagreen with a technique called faux shagreen. Faux shagreen looks and feels like real shagreen. Faux shagreen can also be used on a variety of home decor and furniture products.

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What is Shagreen?

Shagreen is a type of rawhide that has natural small spots on the rawhide surface. Shagreen is produced commercially using mainly the Asian stingrays. In historical times the skin could have come from sharks or stingrays.

The use of shagreen as a decorative material has been around for centuries. In Japan, dating back to the 13th century, samurai swords used shagreen for the sword handles. Shagreen was known to wear well on the samurai sword handles, so it was a practical material to use for the swords.

An Adult Stingray (Dasyatis Americana) swimming in the Caribbean Sea.
An Adult Stingray (Dasyatis Americana) swimming in the Caribbean Sea.

Shagreen was used in China as early as 2 BC. The shagreen was used mainly for the bows for a bow and arrow set.

Europe used a kind of horse skin shagreen. The horse skin was prepared by placing small seeds on the untreated horse skin while the skin was still soft. The soft horse skin would be covered with a cloth and then be trampled upon to purposefully make indents into the horse skin. We are not sure if they did that to try to imitate the stingray shagreen from Asia or if this was a look they liked.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the term shagreen was used to classify all leathers that were made from sharkskin or stingray fish. The skins were popular because they had small round holes and have a natural softness. Shagreen became very popular in France under Louis IV.

One of the reasons why the Shagreen skins became so popular in Europe was because the skin could quickly absorb the color. In places like Japan, they preferred to have the skin be the natural white color.

In the 1970s the use of shagreen became fashionable due in part to the interest of the art deco movement. During this time frame shagreen was used to manufacture furniture and other home decor accessories.

Why We Use Faux Shagreen For Our Home Decor Products

The sharks and stingrays species that have traditionally been used in shagreen production are now near extinction. Both the shark and stingray marine life species are on the species extinction list for being the almost extinct or vulnerable endangered species.

Extinction of Sharks and Stingrays Species

Both sharks and stingray marine-life species used for real shagreen skins are close to or near extinction. Sharks are at risk of being extinct due to overfishing. Almost 100 million sharks are killed each year. To put this into perspective it is estimated that between 6 to 8% of all sharks are killed each year and this killing of the sharks is leading to their rapid decline.

In some parts of Asia, the shark is purposely caught so the fin of the shark can be used in the Chinese delicacy known as shark fin soup. The sharks are caught and then their fins are taken off them and the shark carcass is thrown back into the water.

Like the sharks, almost all kinds of stingrays are either on the endangered or the vulnerable species list. This is because of commercial and recreational fishing, along with losing their natural habitat and being threatened by climate change.

In fact, the prospect for sharks and stingrays marine life is so grim that it is estimated that almost a quarter of sharks and stingrays could shortly become extinct. There was a recent study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that estimates unless drastic changes are made, the extinction of sharks and stingrays will only get worse and not better.

The National Geographic reported this problem with the sharks and stingrays and wrote:

“The species of rays and sharks with a higher risk of extinction live in the shallow waters of the Atlantic, Indian, and western-central Pacific Oceans. Shallow waters are located closer to fisheries and are prone to overfishing. Additionally, many ray species are closer to extinction than sharks are.”

National Geographics

This is why for higher-end home decor product manufacturing it is well-founded for us all to use a faux shagreen and not the real shagreen skins for the production of home decor products.

Faux Shagreen Box
Faux Shagreen Box

What Is Faux Shagreen?

Faux shagreen is as the name implies, a faux material or imitation material that is manufactured to look and feel like real shagreen. It is the look and benefit of real shagreen but without the cost or guilt of using an almost extinct stingray or shark fish skin.

Our faux Shagreen is made from high-quality resin material. The resin material is very thin and pliable just like the natural stingray skin. It is applied to the body of a home decor product similar to how a real stingray skin would be glued or apply to the product body.

This faux shagreen resin material is so fine and delicate that it can be very difficult to tell the difference between the real shagreen skins and the faux shagreen skins. This is especially true once the skins have been finished and glued on to the home decor accessories and furniture items.

One of the great things about many of the faux shagreen skins is the product itself does not feel plastic or fake. It has a very nice touch that looks and feels a lot like real shagreen.

Close Up of Faux Shagreen Box With Metal Trim.
Close Up of Faux Shagreen Box With Metal Trim.

How To Use Faux Shagreen For Home Decor Development

Faux shagreen can be used to develop almost any kind of home decor and home furniture product. This is because like the real shagreen the process of manufacturing the faux shagreen is similar.

Here are some of the many kind of home decor and home furniture items you can develop using faux shagreen:

  • Furniture – There are many furniture items which can use faux shagreen. The furniture can be entirely covered with the faux shagreen, or it could be as applied to part of the furniture. Many times it is mixed with wood, metal, or other finishes as lacquer.
  • Lamps and Lighting – Faux Shagreen is a wonderful material to use on lamps and lighting. Many of the lamps and lighting may also have metal or wood parts.
  • Accessories – Home decor accessories are a wonderful way to use a faux shagreen. It can be placed on trays, boxes, and all kinds of accessory items. It has even been used on items such as a picture frames and bathroom accessories.
  • Wall Art and Mirrors – Faux Shagreen can be used on all kinds of wall art and mirrors. It can be put together with wood, lacquer, and even metal.

Faux shagreen is a wonderful material to still get the look and feel of real shagreen skin without having to use the almost extinct skins of shark or stingrays.

If you are interested to develop some home decor and home furniture products in faux shagreen, we would love to talk to you about how we can help you create develop and manufacture home decor and home furniture products in faux shagreen and many other looks and finishes. Please contact me (Anita) by clicking here. I would love to hear from you.

Find out more about how Mondoro can help you create, develop, and manufacture excellent home decor and furniture products – don’t hesitate to contact me, AnitaCheck out my email by clicking here or become a part of our community and join our newsletter by clicking here.

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Anita Hummel
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