Leather Day
Posted by
geek2nurse
SW Washington State 
Joined Feb 1, '18 

I played with leather today. People at work have been asking for bracelets with words on them.

They didn’t really say WHAT words, so I just came up with some.

Then, of course, I had to figure out how to finish them. (Before you read any farther you should know that I know absolutely nothing about working with leather, so I’m pretty much making it up as I go along.)

There’s a recipe using rusted steel wool and vinegar that supposedly makes a really nice black on leather, but since it actually involves planning ahead, and I’m kind of lousy at that, I didn’t make any black ones. Instead I dug out some shoe polish (the kind in the little cans, which I had bought for this purpose – so I guess I did kind of plan ahead, a little bit!):

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Three of those are just plain leather with shoe polish. The very top is tan, third down is brown, and the bottom is Cordovan. I wanted to try to get a darker brown, so on the second one down I tried using a light coat of brown acrylic paint. It came out kind of a dull, lifeless brown, though, and I didn’t really like it, so I rubbed off what I could with a damp rag, and then polished over it with the brown shoe polish. I kinda thought I’d screwed that one up, but strangely, all 3 of the 3 people I showed the 4 colors to for their opinions picked that one as their favorite. Go figure.

So I tried the same thing again, but with the brown paint and tan shoe polish, and I think that one actually turned out to be MY favorite. It’s the one that says “breathe” in this photo:

Then I got tired of the shoe polish colors and went back to my acrylics.

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_Hmmm…it’s kinda like refrigerator poetry! _

The yellow and aqua are acrylic paint topped with a coat of the light tan polish. The blues were more of the “paint on, wipe off” topped with shoe polish. On the “be yourself” one I used the Cordovan, and on the other one I used tan. The difference is pretty subtle.

Stuff I learned:

  1. Dapping dies can actually do a decent job of applying snaps to leather, if you use the right sizes, but it turns out it’s a LOT easier with the actual tool you’re supposed to do it with.
  2. Sanding the back of the leather with a scrap of sandpaper will take off the flashback marks AND make it feel soft for wearing against the skin.
  3. Rubbing the edge of a dapping die (or anything smooth and cylindrical, actually) at an angle along the cut edge of leather gets rid of the sharp corner and makes it look more finished.
  4. Running a piece of beeswax along the cut edges and then scraping with the back of a craft knife makes them smooth and shiny and takes care of any char that hasn’t already rubbed off on your fingers and work surface.
  5. A nine-inch light box isn’t big enough for photographing 8.5" bracelets when you want them laid out flat so all the words show.
  6. Sometimes even when you screw stuff up, people still like it. :slight_smile:

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