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.