What is it made from?
Shagreen is derived from Stingray’s, and it otherwise called ‘Galuchat’, after the artisan trader who brought it into high-culture. You can read further information about this below. Therefore, we can say shagreen is a truly exotic, richly textured, strong material which has been used for centuries as a decorative surface.
What’s the history?
Originally used for specialised, practical purposes, its earliest application dates back to 13th century Japan. In the 16th century, Portuguese traders began to import Japanese shagreen furnishings for decorative purposes.
By the late 17th and early 18th century, Dutch and English craftsmen imported small amounts of raw shagreen hides. They would cover small decorative items (knife skins, boxes, microscopes and shaving kits), introducing dyes, most commonly applying the colour green.
The material became highly popularised in the mid 18th century. One leading woman, Madame De Pompadour adored this material. A well known patron of the arts, she was also the mistress of King Louis XIV. Jean-Claude Galuchat was a craftsman who sold many shagreen covered items to her. For this reason, it’s still known in France as ‘Galuchat’.
Colour is a very important part of our design process. Working with this material does provide some great challenges in general, including the limited size of the skins and how much of the material is not particularly thick. The scales of the skin get progressively larger at the centre of the skin, creating lustrous facets, culminating in one large scale, option called the jewel. When designing, the jewel is used as a focal point.
Browse our shagreen accessories below, including photo frames, vide poche’s, boxes and more!