Working with Leather: Project Ideas
Leather has proven to be a timeless and durable canvas. Detailed imagery and patterns can be worked into the soft canvas. You’ll find ornate leather art in anything from belts to book covers. Experienced craftsmen work with multiple techniques for varied finishes, including leather stitching, dying, and burning. Though there is a lot to be mastered, this is also a craft that translates well to beginners and youth. There are easy to use kits available that include the tools, precut leather, designs to trace and other leather project ideas.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Types of Leather
There are two types of leather—garment leather and stamping leather. Garment leather is used for clothing and bags, and not for carving crafts. Stamping leather is thicker, tan, and ideal for creating carved and stamped designs.
Water is Key
Before you stamp or carve, wetting the leather with a sponge allows the leather to soften. Getting a feel for how wet your leather should be is key in leatherwork. If the leather is too wet when you transfer or stamp your design, the image may be too heavy or dark. If the leather is too dry, there will not be enough contrast. Use scraps of leather to practice maintaining a consistent moisture level.
Choosing Your Work Surface
It’s important to work on a sturdy surface you can pound on. You can purchase marble blocks from craft supply stores. Another option for a larger surface is a granite scrap from a countertop supply or hardware store.