Hey everyone! I’m so excited to have Kristy from Please Excuse My Craftermath… guest posting for us today. Kristy is a dear blogging friend of mine, and I’m in LOVE with the project that she’s sharing today. She’s really making me want play around with some leather! When you’re done here, make sure to head on over to her blog and give her some love. She’s the best!
Hi there! My name is Kristy gd, and I’ll be your guest blogger for today. I figured I’d let you know a bit about me first, since you already know how awesome Jessica is. I have my own blog over at Please Excuse My Craftermath… (aptly named by my friend to whom I’m always saying as much). I like to work on all sorts of projects, but feel most at home with paper and fabric. I’m a bit of a geek and try to tie that into most of what I do. Jessica and I met up through the Silhouette Challenge Facebook group, and we both love love love our Silhouettes. Ok, well, I do and I’m assuming Jessica does as well. I do most of my crafts in conjunction with my husband Earl, with some help from our dog Bug and cat Kaylee along the way. Well, at least Bug tries to help. Kaylee, on the other hand, I think she just covets the attention.
I think it’s better to get to know my crafting style by just showing you a few of my recent projects. Below are linked thumbnails to the cufflinks I made Earl for our 4th anniversary, a fabric and leather notepad, and the custom gaming tabletop Earl and I made together to fit our gaming needs.
But, enough about me! Onto the project! For this post, I wanted everything to be just perfect. Well, I always want everything to be just perfect, but especially so for Jessica. It took me a while to hit upon some inspiration, but when I finally did, I think I hit it just right. So, here it is!
There aren’t too many materials you need for this project, and some of these are optional. Here is what I used:
- Embossing Machine (I used my Vagabond)
- 8-9 oz Leather at least 12″x8″ (see below)
- Embossing Folders (I used Tim Holtz Airmail, Compass, Clock, Steampunk, Eiffel Tower, and French Script)
- Fiebings Leather Dye (British Tan) – optional
- Neatsfoot Oil – optional
- Fiebings Leather Sheen – optional but recommended
- A paintbrush – optional
- Cotton swabs
- Cutting mat
- Straight Edge
- Rotary cutter
For the leather, I used some left over from a half hide I had on hand. I usually pick up half shoulder pieces or belly cuts on special. I was able to get 3 sets of 6 coasters out of the remainder that I have, and had previously used that piece for another craft. You could also use a piece of thinner tooling leather. What you want to avoid, though, is the soft pliable leather, which is what Joann’s and Micheals will carry. That won’t emboss right, so make sure you have a piece of stiff leather. Leather is typically graded by oz per square foot, but the thickness is rarely even throughout. I suggest a 5-6oz (~2-2.5mm thick) or 8-9oz (~3.2-3.6mm thick) leather for this project unless you want to add a secondary backing such as cork or a stiffened felt.
Step 1: Cut the Leather
To cut the leather, I simply used my rotary blade along with my cutting mat and straight edge to cut 6 squares that were 4×4. You could use a pair of sharp scissors if you didn’t have a rotary blade. Be aware that leather is tough on scissors.
Step 2: Wet the leather
Once you’ve cut your pieces of leather, you’ll want to wet it so that the emboss gives a crisp image and holds the image. This is known as casing the leather, though I didn’t do a proper casing here. For this project, I found that running the leather under water and embossing the leather while it’s still wet provides enough elasticity and staying power. In the image below, you can see the leather at 3 different stages of wetness. You want your leather to look like it does on the left.
Left: Just after being run under water. Middle: Pre-wetting. Right: After drying a bit.
Step 3: Emboss the leather
Now that you’ve got your leather wet, it’s time to run it through the embossing machine.
IMPORTANT: Make sure to check the thickness of the leather with the thickness the machine can handle so that your sandwich isn’t too thick! With the Sizzix Vagabond, I used the Solo Thin Die Adapter, the leather + embossing folder, and 1 cutting pad on top. Note that I did not use both cutting pads!!
Once your leather has run through the machine, you’ll be able to see the pattern. Below, you can see the difference between two pieces of leather: one that went through wet (on the left), and one that I let dry out (on the right). You’ll notice that the one on the right lost some detail on the left hand side.
Step 4: Dye your leather (optional)
If you want to dye your leather, now is the time to do that. I finished my coasters in 3 different ways. The fastest way was to just skip the dye all together. The leather will darken up your a little bit, but it will keep close to the natural color of the leather. The second way I finished them was to apply a single color dye. For these, I applied a single heavy coat of Buckskin colored dye. Finally, I used a paintbrush to apply British Tan dye just to the impressed area, leaving the top color more natural. These were my favorites.
While painting the dye on the background was very time consuming (anywhere between 20 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes depending on the design and my precision), it was my favorite method. I used a 00 sized brush. The biggest issue I had was that I wasn’t able to get a consistent weight of the color, but I like the weathered look that gives.
Step 5: Finishing the leather.
To finish the leather, I first put on a light coat of Neatsfoot oil and then a coat of Leather Sheen on top. These help seal in the stain and protect the leather from wear. Since I’m using them as coasters, the extra protection from the sheen was important to me. Make sure to let the dye dry fully before adding the neatsfoot oil, and the neatsfoot oil to dry fully before the coat of sheen. Drying times will vary depending on humidity and heat, but if the leather feels cold to the touch it’s not dry yet.
That’s it! It’s a pretty simple project that you can do quickly (by skipping the dying part and just applying the sheen) or spend a lot of time getting creative with the dye job. Here’s a glimpse at one of my sets of 6!
Thanks for tagging along and checking out my tutorial. And thanks to Jessica for being such a great host! I hope you all have a wonderful day, and don’t worry about making a mess. It just means you’re being creative!