Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Recycled Idea for a Leather Weight

It has been quite a spell since I last posted on this blog spot, but things around here have been quite hectic. Things haven't completed flatten out, but I wanted to post another project.

I am always looking for different ideas that I can incorporate into my leather craft hobby. This idea was courtesy of Toby Farris from Burnet County, TX. Before we get into the depths of this project, I would like to publish a disclaimer here. In some of the steps you will see here, there is a lot of danger and someone can get seriously hurt, so please be safe!


We are going to build a leather weight like the one shown above. This was the first for me and it was ultimately a gift to Mr. Farris for sharing the idea and helping me understand the process.


You ever wonder what happens to those little weights when your vehicle tires are changed or balanced? Well, here is a recycle idea. Apparently, these get lost pitched or recycled in other ways. Mr. Toby had a 5 gallon bucket of these used weight just sitting there, so my mind starting working overtime. With Mr. Toby's help, we fired up the grill, outside and in a well ventilated area. After picking up a .50 used pot from the second hand store, we started to cook some lead. It took about a bottle of beer before the heat was high enough to consider pouring out the lead.


I needed to find the perfect mold for these weights. I experienced an 'ah-a' moment while in the local grocery store during a shopping experience. I found an aluminum can to be the perfect size and fit for this project. After consuming the product inside of the cans, I removed the label and thoroughly washed the cans. You will notice that wee used a wired grate as a strainer because the weights do have some non lead byproduct. You will need this grate to catch those items, so they do not get into your final product. Up to this point, you really need to exercise extreme care because this stuff is really hot and can cause damage to the human body. You will need to wear gloves to help you hold the pot handle while you pour the lead into the cans. It is a challenge to figure out how much used weight is needed to fill your mold in one pass. You can, and I have double poured lead into one of these cans and it did bond together, but I try to get it filled on the first try.


Another word of caution. Please allow sufficient time for the lead to cure and cool down before handling. The final product will shrink a bit and should easily come out of the can with a few bangs to the underside. Be aware that you may need to destroy the can to remove the lead. In the picture above, you will see the final product once it is removed from the can. I usually get my wire brush and scrap the entire lead weight. I will then spray it with clear coat because the lead will come off on your hands as you handle it, so be careful.


As some of you close to me and my craft know that I really enjoy the designing phase of any project the most. I am almost never sure how I will go from that point on and it is usually an adventure. Well, this one was no exception. I really didn't know how I was going to cover it, but I knew that it had to be in leather. So I decided to do half molds for this one, but I quickly found myself trying to figure out what I was going to do with the seam. Well, I made this project a custom belt with geometric stamping and after two coats of contact cement.....it went on. It came out better than I expected. I later found this beautifully large area on top that was screaming for some tooling. I decided to stamp my maker mark and put a simple geometric pattern. Just something simple for this gift.


After some more thought and a few other rounds of making leather weights, I decided to make a wooden mold to help make covering these weights easier. I included pictures (above) of the latest cover that I made for these weights. I also decided to stamp my maker's mark on the bottom and tool the top part. A simple coat of Tan Kote was all that I found necessary to provide some protection. It has been a spell since my last visit to the Farris Leather shop to make any more weights. My supply has dwindle down after gifting several off these to students, friends and admirers of my work. Of course, the covering will be left to them so that can personalize it their way.

Until next time, thanks for hanging in there with my blog.

Monday, August 10, 2015

It is 5 o'clock somewhere Wall Clock

Here is another simple weekend project that can be made for a special friend or family member. You can decorate your leather piece anyway you feel like, I decided to use wine. This one pictured in this blog post is being enjoyed by a dear friend and leathercrafter in Canada.


I have a circle clicker die that I used to make this 7.5" leather piece. Normally, I would select a piece of wood first and cut the leather to size, but in this case I did it backwards.


I used the internet to seek a perfect pattern for the center of the design. In this case, I used the silhouette of a wine glass.


As you can see, I did some sketching onto the pattern I printed out. I wasn't sure how I was going to decorate it, so I just did some simple sketches until I saw what I liked.


As you can see, I transferred the design and then changed my mind.....something I usually do often. I ended up cutting and beveling the wine glass. I decided to use Fiebing's black oil dye for the silhouette and Burgundy dye for the interior portion. Every stage of my projects are either thought out before hand or on the fly. It depends on my mood at the time. Since I do not have continuous time to work on my projects, I end up having a lot of time to think. With this project, I decided to try an inlay approach to the design.


I split the exterior portion of the leather into even spaces using the design of a clock. I then marked and transferred the number 5 repeatedly as a joke.


For the 12, 3, 6, & 9 markers, I decided to decorate these areas a bit further so that they would stand out.


I took the Burgundy color to the exterior piece by coloring the number 5 around the circle. I then prepared to glue the inlay piece to the exterior as shown in the picture.


After the glued parts were secured, I cut a stitching channel and stitched the pieces together using waxed thread. I then applied a coat of Wyosheen to the project to seal it. While I waited for this sealant to dry, I started working on the wooden base. I picked this wooden base at Michael's, a local arts & craft store.


I decided to paint the wooden base black and seal it. Once all of the parts were ready, I worked and finished the edge of the leather piece. I then applied a coat of contact cement to the wooden base and leather and afixed it to each other.

Here is the project completed.


Thanks for following my blog spot....stay tuned for another great project!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Two Wine Bottle Holder

I am always looking for new projects to make that include leather and wood. I found this design and thought that a decorated piece of leather would really make this wood project stand out. Follow me to find out how it was done.



This wood project started out with 5 pieces of red oak. The back had to be glued up with two pieces of lumber to get the height. There was a bottom piece that was added, but I am sure without it you could hang it on the wall. The more difficult pieces were the bottle planks. This part required a bit of work, but it was easier than I thought.



I ended up using a wine bottle to provide me with some clearance measurements. I then used my jig saw to cut the larger hole and a 1.5" Forstner bit for the smaller hole. I ended pushing up the finishing time by using my spindle sander bits to complete the holes.



After checking the mock up, I drilled and countersunk all of the holes in preparation to put it together after staining is completed.



Now, for the leather piece to complete this project. I made several of these projects for friends and family as I usually do with all of my projects. In the following pictures, I will show two different leather pieces that I made to display in this post.



I sought the help of Mr. Don Gonzalez of DG Saddlery in College Station, TX who was kind enough to provide me with a custom design. In the second panel, I used roses as a focal design for the panel. This one was a special project for good friends of mine.



Once the leather pieces were tooled and finished, they were carefully attached to the wood stand using two coats of contact cement. Though these projects were time consuming, they were were enjoyed by their new owners. The time and effort were definitely worth it.



The wood and leather will last a lifetime with use and care. Thanks for following me on another great project!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Making a Leather Feather



Here is an interesting project that can be completed in an afternoon. From start to finish, you can have your very own 3D leather feather.

These are the materials you will need to complete this project.

Materials needed:

• 6” x 15” Light weight leather piece (2/3oz or 3/4oz)
• 18ga. Wire
• ½” x18” (3oz) strip of deer or chrome tan leather
• Stylus
• Swivel knife
• B202L and B202R bevellers (Leaf Liner tool)
• Modeling tool (Spoon and Ball)
• Hair blade (fine)
• Craft knife (shears or round knife could be used if preferred)
• Eco-Flo Block Out Resist Finish
• Contact Cement
• Safety Skiver, or round knife
• Acrylic paints (Ivory & Dark Burnt Amber)
• Brushes
• Optional: 12”x12” Crescent mat board



Use the pattern below and re-size it (The length of the feather pattern should be 13.5” long). Prepare your leather piece by applying your casing solution to the entire leather. Turn the leather upside down onto your granite block to allow the water to penetrate down into the fibers. While you allow the leather to get ready, you can prepare your work area for this project.

Trace pattern onto your cased leather. If you are using a Xerox machine to make your copy; there is no need to transfer the copy onto velum or other tracing paper you normally use. You can use this copy to transfer your pattern directly onto the leather after casing it.

With your preferred swivel knife, cut all of the pattern lines. Remember to cut at least halfway through the leather, which will enhance the look after your beveling. Bevel both sides of quill using B202L and B202R making sure to use on the correct side to correspond to the direction of the feather's fibers. Beveling should be fairly deep.

From the back of the feather, lightly emboss the quill using a small ball modeler or a stylus to help give a rounded look to the top side of the quill. Also use a modeling tool to round off the beveled edge of the quill on the front of the feather.



Using your hair blade cut your fibers on the main body of the feather. Starting at the bottom of the feather, pull the blade from the quill all the way past the outside border of the feather. Pull the hair blade firmly against the leather to make the fibers of the feather very prominent.

The lines should have a very slight curve and keep the same angle until you near the last third of the (top) quill. At that point the fibers should start to change their angle (upward towards the tip) until they come nearly straight off the quill at the top of the feather. Repeat this on the other side of the feather.



Using a craft knife or round knife, cut around the perimeter of the feather. Do not cut off the loose fibers at the bottom.



Using a safety skiver or round knife skive the back of the feather so that the last 1/2” is very thin. The skiving should be tapered from farther in and end up paper-thin on the edge. If you accidentally cut out a divot while skiving, your piece is not ruined. Just keep going.



Using a craft knife cut very thin fibers below the main part of the feather. Do not cut all the way to the quill. Leave 1/16" to 1/8" distance from the quill, so that the fibers don't break off easily.



Cement a piece of light gauge wire on the underside of the quill for more stiffness to the finished piece. Cement a narrow strip of very light leather on top to cover the wire.



Because feathers are rarely perfect, make 3 or 4 cuts on one side of the feather starting about 3/4 of the way from the edge and following the line of the fibers. DO NOT makes them equal distances apart. (If you cut out a divot while skiving, that is a good place for one of these cuts.) Make 3 or 4 cuts on the other side, but DO NOT mirror the cuts from the first side.



Brush Block Out heavily on both sides of the feather. While wet shape the feather.

Hints for shaping:

• Pull loose fibers at bottom apart from each other and bend them so they are uneven and "messy.”

• Along outside of feather, curl edges under a little.

• Where you made your cuts along the sides, twist the top corner of the cuts to give them some shape

• Curve feather up so that it is a little higher in the middle if laid on its back.

• When you are done shaping, set aside and allow Block Out to dry completely.



Painting the feather

When most people think of a bald eagle feather, they envision a feather from a juvenile bird that is transitioning from the brown to the white state. They are extremely beautiful in that state and painting your feather that way makes for a very striking project. You can, of course, paint them any way you like.

It is a good idea to look at images of feathers on the internet for ideas on how to paint them. Remember that there is no right or wrong on the pattern. Each bird's feathers look a little different and various stages of transition will have differing patterns on the same feather.



Apply dye/paint by Stippling with a brush. “Stippling” is another term for keeping your brush perpendicular to the leather and bringing it down rapidly applying dye/paint to the area. With a loaded dye/paint brush, try to blend the two colors while making your way down the feather. Your dye/paint will lighten as you use the Stippling action with the brush.



Additionally: With the scrap pieces of leather, we encourage you to make smaller leather feathers that can be used as pendant or ear rings. Take a look!



Credit: I would like to personally thank Mr. Jim Linnell of the Elk Tracks Studios for his effort, passion and desire to pass on the techniques of leathercraft. He has opened up his knowledge to me and countless others and I appreciate it.

I hope you enjoyed another leather project brought to you by The Grain Side Up! Thanks for following my blog. Stay tune for more projects for 2015.