CraftSanity on TV: Working with Leather

After a week of exploring the art of leather craft, I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for those who spend hours pounding and carving raw leather into beautiful saddles, belts, kid toys and other goods. I’ve spent the last several days pounding out simple designs on scraps of leather with varying degrees of success. For example, the “DREAM” wristband above turned out a bit more like a nightmare after the “acorn brown” finish dried.

Leather crafts can get expensive quick, so I wrote up some directions for an easy intro project to help you get your feet wet without breaking the bank. Read on for the tutorial…

The first thing I tried to make was a leather key fob. (See the Apple logo fob that I made for my husband it the top photo.)

Leather key fob kit
Ball tip stylus tool
Rubber mallet
Rivet setter
Scrap paper
Pen or pencil
Spray bottle filled with water

I bought a key fob kit from Tandy Leather Factory that includes the key ring and rivet to secure the fob to the ring. You can buy letter stamps for stamping leather, but I didn’t see a set that thrilled me, so I decided to make do without.

Step 1) Spray the leather fob with water to damped, not soak. Let water the soak in before starting. When the color of the leather returns to how it looked before you wet it, you’re good to go.

Step 2) To make an initial fob, draw your letter of choice on a piece of paper and cut it out. Then center it on the piece of leather and trace around it with the ball tip of a stylus tool from the leather supply store. (If you have ball tip paper embossing tool on hand, that should work too.)

If you would rather not draw your own pattern and don’t have any leather stamps, another option is to use mini-letter, fondant cutters from the cake decorating aisle of your local craft store. (Note: I’m aware of the fact that I mistakenly called these “fondue cutters” on yesterday’s live TV segment. My only explanation is that I was tired and they both start with “F.”) Just be careful that you don’t hit your fingers with the mallet. Hold them in place with a pliers while pounding to reduce your risk of injury.

Step 3) Embellish the background. If you don’t want to invest in leather stamps right away, use the stylus tool to doodle a background design by hand. This is quieter than pounding out a background design and really fun, especially if you like doodling.

Step 4) The last step before attaching the fob to the key ring, is to apply a leather finish. I used Eco-Flo Super Shene to get a clear gloss finish. Follow the directions on the bottle to apply.

Step 5) After the finish dried, I used a mallet and rivet setter to secure the fob to the key ring.

I’ll be posting instructions to make a super easy leather wristband, as soon as I write them. In the meantime, I invite you to take a look at yesterday’s “Take Five segment.” I didn’t leave myself enough time to demo the project during the segment, but the clip will at least give you a look at some interesting pieces by Chris Howard the leather worker I met at the last weekend’s Fulton Street Artisan’s Market. (He’s entirely to blame for this leather craft foray.) Check back here tomorrow to read his story.

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