Conchos are decorative additions to leathercraft products. Traditional conchos are flat and silver in color. The original conchos were created by Spanish-influenced Native Americans in the deserts of the Southwest. These first conchos were discs of silver that were hammered flat and attached to leather clothing as decorations. Today's conchos come in many shapes and sizes and serve a variety of purposes. From leather journal covers to leather gloves and boots, nearly all professional-grade leathercraft products feature some type of concho used to enhance their appeal.
Types of Conchos
Conchos have come a long way since their early days as flat, round discs of silver. Since the days of the original conchos in the mid-19th century, concho craftspeople have grown increasingly creative in concho design. These days, conchos of virtually any symbol, shape, or design are easy to find at places like eBay.
Conchos should not be confused with studs, also known as spots. Studs or spots are also usually decorative in nature, but they tend to be smaller and more plain than a concho. A concho always has a design etched into its face or is shaped into a particular logo or symbol. A stud, by contrast, is not as intricate. Studs are also used for aesthetic purposes; there are spike-shaped studs, crystal studs, and heart-shaped studs, but these designs are never as elaborate as the designs that embellish conchos. Furthermore, a single leathercraft product might have a multitude of studs, such as a purse lined with evenly-spaced studs along its edge, but most leathercraft products, with the exception of concho belts, usually have only a few conchos on them. For example, the purse lined with studs along the edge may sport just a single, large concho in its center.
Here are a few of the most popular subgenres of conchos:
Slotted conchos have a raised center point with two open rectangular slots. These slots are used to thread through a leather tassel or strap. Usually, slotted conchos are circular in their design. However, there are also specialty slotted conchos that feature particular designs, such as animal-shaped and heart-shaped slotted conchos.
Copper Finish Conchos
Although the majority of conchos stay true to their original silver coloring, copper finish conchos are also increasingly popular. Copper finish conchos may not actually be real copper, but they do have a distinctive, penny-colored finish to them.
Conchos as Symbols
Conchos today are often used to signal affiliation with a certain group or ideology. For example, many conchos have Christian crosses set in their centers. Other conchos have Celtic crosses or Iron Crosses that take up most of their faces. More playful styles of conchos include heart-shaped conchos, conchos with golf clubs crossed on their faces, and conchos in the shape of an animal, usually an eagle, bronco, or buffalo.
As the first conchos originally came from the American Southwest, it shouldn't be surprising that conchos are very popular decorations for leathercraft amongst Texans and Texas enthusiasts. The Lone Star state has inspired a large number of star-shaped conchos. Star-shaped conchos that conjure images of Texas cowboys come in various shapes; there are stars set on solid conchos but also conchos set on flat, open rings.
Besides star-shaped conchos, another popular Texas-themed concho is the longhorn steer concho. Although not specifically Texan, the steer concho is reminiscent of the University of Texas Longhorns logo. Some of these longhorn steers are set on oval-shaped conchos; some are set within circular discs; still others are set inside five-pointed stars.
The saddles that sit on the back of a horse aren't the only types of saddles. Motorcyclists decorate their bikes' saddlebags with conchos as well as the leather jackets they wear for protection from the road and the wind. Conchos for motorcycle bikers include conchos shaped in the form of a motorcycle or motorcycle engine, Iron Crosses, skull-shaped conchos, and skull-and-bone conchos.
Motorcyclists also use slotted conchos on motorcycle saddlebags, boots, and jackets to hang leather tassels and straps.
Not all conchos are plain metal. Some conchos include a crystal or precious gem in the center, while others include an array of small gems. For example, one popular concho design is a flower-shaped concho with a circular or spherical piece of turquoise in its center.
There are also entire conchos made from rhinestones and conchos decorated with multiple small rhinestones. Sometimes conchos come with these gemstones already embedded upon their faces; in other cases, people choose to buy a plain concho and then decorate it with crystals, gems, or rhinestones.
Screw Back Conchos Versus Rivet Back Conchos
Conchos are attached to leather using typically either a screw back or a rivet back. As the name implies, a screw back concho is attached to material by simply screwing the backing on. Rivet backs must be riveted and hammered into place.
Uses of Conchos
Conchos are almost always purely decorative; only rarely are conchos used in a utilitarian fashion. When they are, the conchos used are typically slotted conchos. In other words, creative leathercraft craftspeople use conchos principally to add flare and style to their leathercraft products. Here are the most common ways in which conchos are used by leathercrafters:
One of the original uses of conchos was to decorate leather belts. Today, concho belts are still popular fashion statements.
In general, there are two ways to decorate a leather belt with conchos. The first method is to make the whole belt a concho-themed belt. These belts have nearly as much metal as they do leather; the leather is really only there to hold the conchos in place. Usually, these types of concho belts feature large, circular or oval-shaped conchos that are larger than the leather beneath.
The second way of using conchos to decorate a leather belt is to use just a few conchos spaced at different intervals along the belt. While the style mentioned above is used more for women's belts, this style is used more frequently for men's belts.
Conchos on Saddles
Another place where conchos are frequently used is on saddles. Conchos are used to decorate the front, sides, and backs of Western-style leather saddles. Slotted conchos are also frequently used on saddles for adding leather lacing for tassels and straps.
Conchos in Other Leathercraft Products
Leathercrafters use conchos everywhere in their creations. Knife sheaths sometimes sport a single concho near their tops or bottoms. Leather cell phone pouches often have a concho situated above the clasp. Hats, shoes, jackets, and chaps all sport various conchos.
Finding Conchos on eBay
All of the conchos mentioned above, along with a number of conchos not described, are easy to find at bargain prices on eBay. To find conchos on eBay, begin by going to the eBay homepage and clicking on All Categories. From the All Categories page, click on the Crafts page, then click on Home Arts & Crafts. From here, click on Leathercraft. The page devoted to Conchos is situated within the leathercraft Accessories subheading. Clicking on the Conchos link will bring up all of eBay's active listings for conchos.
There are usually thousands of active listings for conchos at any given time on eBay. To narrow down the results, use the options on the left to filter the conchos or use the search bar. For example, someone searching for antique conchos might click the Used checkbox to the left to view only older conchos.
Alternatively, use the search bar at the top of the page to look for specific types of conchos. A search for "Texas," for instance, brings up all the eBay listings for conchos with a Texan theme. A search for "Celtic" brings up all the Celtic cross and Celtic knot conchos.
For leathercraft hobbyists, conchos are an essential part of creating attractive, unique leather products. There are many conchos to choose from, ranging from traditional conchos with a Native American flare to conchos that feature sports emblems. Shopping for conchos online at eBay is the best way for buyers to ensure that they have access to the widest range of conchos and pay the most reasonable prices for their conchos. Start looking for conchos on eBay today by following the steps outlined above.