Thursday, 19 January 2012

Our Creative Spaces: Leatherwork

Do you ever have those times when you just get kind of bored with what you're doing and want to try something new in relation to crafting or just being creative generally? Sarah and I have been feeling this way recently and we thought it was time to try something different. Our Mum and Dad took courses in leatherwork in the 1970's (it was big back then, along with the uber-cool macrame trend). Dad in particular has made lots of awesome leather goodies over the years so we got out his old leather working gear and did some experimenting over the weekend.

Firstly we had to choose a design that we wanted to imprint into the leather. Sarah had the awesome idea of using stamps and stencils so Dad chose a sweet deer stencil while Sarah chose some cute babushkas and I went for my favourite Ghibli character Totoro!

We traced and stamped the designs onto some tracing paper that we stole from the kitchen drawer, then we wet the leather and traced the designs onto it using a ballpoint pen (minus the ink cartridge!) This leaves you with a nice outline to go over with using the leather working tools.We used a swivel knife (the silver tool in the photo) to cut the design into the leather. To finish off we used a double ended modeller to further enhance and define the outline of the designs.

After the designs were completed we painted on an antique finish dye to really bring out the carvings and then sealed everything with a sealant and a gloss. In the picture you can see Dad's deer and big Totoro, my little Totoro and Sarah's little babushkas. Dad is going to turn his deer into a little purse and my Totoro into a keyring.

It was really fun to try something new and just mess around and experiment with a new medium. We learnt a bit about which designs work better than others (smaller designs are much harder to carve and show detail so it's better to go for something larger) and we didn't slice off any fingers with the swivel knife which was something of a miracle.

I think leatherwork is a bit of a lost art- it's one of the few crafts that hasn't experienced a big revival in recent years like crochet, knitting and sewing have. I definitely think it has potential to be popular again by modernising the designs and experimenting with what can be done with leather. I'm definitely looking forward to trying out more leatherwork designs in the next few months!

xoxo Lauren

P.S. You can check some cool creative spaces here!


  1. That is so cool.. they turned out fantastic!!! It makes me want to have a go too!! I love learning new things!

    I think it must have been a real dad thing to do in the 70's because mine and my partners dad were into leather work too .. ha ha ha!

  2. Hiya! thank you for your comment, very cute little creatures and great to see work in leather, it looks great!


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