Flask complete!

I went back and tweaked the compass gear design one more time – I decided to use a gear that has more teeth.

I also gave the pattern a boarder.

Next, I traced the pattern onto the leather.  I just went over the trace with a ball point pen this time, and it worked pretty well.

Next I carved the pattern into the leather with the swivel knife.

Then beveling and using the background tool on the inside of the gear.

I used a new, smaller beveler on the gear teeth.  I like the lined pattern that it makes.  Of course, when I background the outside of the gear, those lines will go away.  I’ll have to find a project that will let me show that detail at some point.

Next, I used a “geometric stamp” on the left and right flaps of this piece of leather.

The imprint left by the tool is actually a small X shape.  But when used in succession as I did here, the strikes form a square (a geometric shape – hence the name).

Then it was time for the last bit of tooling – the background between the boarder and the central pattern.

Happily, I used a bigger background tool for this larger space, or it would have taken a REALLY long time.  I also used the spoon shaped end of the modeling tool that came with my kit to round the edges of the boarder and compass arms.

Next step: fun with leather dye.

On the background, I used a dark brown.  I used the resist technique and a light brown dye on the compass points.   The gear and the rest are dyed “saddle tan.”  And then I applied the finisher to seal in the stain.  I learned a couple of really interesting things this time out:

  • Using the background tool makes the leather quite porous.   Which, you know, I should have expected from a tool which effectively pokes a bunch of holes into a surface.   Thus, it took a lot of dye to get a good dark color, and it took a REALLY long time to dry.
  • The saddle tan dye doesn’t work the same way as my water based dyes.  I stained part of our living room table with an inadvertent spill.  I also stained part of the kitchen sink when I was cleaning everything up.
  • The finisher darkens up the dye just a bit.
The next day was Saturday, so I took my leather to class at Tandy and learned how to affix this to it’s intended home – a shiny new flask.

Super washed out background!

I used some contact cement on the flaps, and then stitched the whole thing together.   I learned that you do leather stitching with  two needles.  You center the thread at the start, and then work from both ends – like lacing up a pair of shoes.

And here is the finished product:

One steampunk flask, perfect for costumed occasions, camping, and parties of all sorts!

Now, for a test drive…

A perfect pair!

Thus ends my first completed leather project!  I’m quite pleased with the outcome.  I figure I’ll use it maybe twice a year, but it was a good sized project to go through all of the steps of leathercrafting.  If you want to see the pictures with more detail, look through the album.

Published in: on September 25, 2011 at 9:13 pm  Comments (1)  
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Compass – Second draft

Today, I took another stab at my compass and gear pattern.  First, I made the whole thing smaller, because what I had before would not fit on the flask on which I eventually intend to use the design.  Second, I made the background gear smaller.  This is the trace:

And third, I did a much better job with the dye this time:

I kept the color scheme from last time, but this time I applied it more carefully.   I wiped away the excess and buffed it a bit to smooth out the color.  And this time I used regular black, instead of raisin, for the empty part of the gear.   I applied a proper coat of finisher on top of the colors when I was done.  I like it.

I need to be more careful with the cutting, though.  If the gear looks lopsided, that’s because it is – I accidentally undercut some of my trace lines and made one side thinner than the other.   I tried to fix it with the beveling, but I don’t think it worked.

Now need to figure out what to do with the rest of the flask.

Published in: on September 11, 2011 at 12:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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Compass – First draft

I’ve got an idea for a steampunk design that I’d like to put on a flask – a compass over a gear.

I’m still tweaking the design, but I decided to use the general idea to practice.

Here’s the pattern on leather:

Not my best trace job ever, but hopefully some clean work with the swivel knife can save it.

That looks a bit better.  Then beveling and interior backgrounding:

And then I decided to play with color.  This is the first time I’ve tried out the dyes that came with my little kit, so I experimented with different things.

This is a crummy picture – it is blurry, and a bit of a mish mash of color.   Most of the darker sides of the compass arms are stained dark brown.   For comparison, I also died one of those sides black (not like you can tell in this picture).   In the future, I’ll save the black for background work and accents.

On the lighter side of the compass arms, I’m tyring what is called a “resist” technique to preserve the natural color of the leather.  Instead of applying a chemical called a “finisher” on top of a piece of dyed leather – to seal in the dye – you apply it directly to the leather.  It works well for what is supposed to be the lightest part of this design.

The gear is dyed a lighter brown called “saddle tan.”  I like it next to the resist – next time I try this pattern, I think I’ll use that pair the compass arms and make the gear dark brown.

The background area is stained with a dye called “raisin.”  I thought it was going to be the equivalent of the black, but it looks like it’s going to dry a very dark purple.  Hence the name, I suppose.

And that’s all for today.  Happy Labor Day weekend, folks.

Published in: on September 4, 2011 at 10:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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More Celtic knots

Today, I played with more knots!

First, I did some work on that scrap I started yesterday.

I beveled around the outside edges. I’m pleased with how it turned out – a fairly smooth, even line.

Then, I beveled the interior lines, used a background tool on the area between the “strands” of the pattern

Then I decided to try a new pattern.

Here is what it is supposed to look like, and the pattern pressed into the wet leather

Pattern after carving

Then I beveled around the outside, and put a couple of mark the space between the pattern lines.  I was trying to make it easier to see the “laces” for the next part.

Interior beveling

Post background tool.   I need a smaller backgrounder for the next time I do this – the one that came with my kit is not quite tiny enough for the smallest spaces of this pattern.

Here, I used a tool on the places where the “laces” overlapped each other.  The idea is to create a subtle angle on either side of the lace, to make it look like one crosses under the other.  I did a really bad job.  I’m going to need some practice before I can pull off subtle.

That’s all I’ve got for today.

Published in: on August 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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1st Class – Walking the Line

I graduated!  And I took the bar! And now I get to have a life again!   Hooray!

Tandy Leather is where I got my leather supplies.  There’s one about a five minute drive from home.  And they have free classes on Saturdays!  So I gathered plucked up my courage, gathered my tools, and went to learn some stuff.  (The added bonus, I found out when I arrived, is that the shop is wicked air conditioned.   It was about 90° and getting hotter when I left the apartment, so sitting in a nice cool shop for two hours was wonderful).

While I haven’t posted about it, I have dabbled with leathercrafting a bit since my last post.  I’m a champion tracer, and I can cut a decent line into the leather (I thought), but what was really giving me fits was a technique called “walking” a tool.   You walk a tool by hitting it and moving it at the same time.  This is particularly important for beveling.  When you bevel along a cut in the leather, you basically smoosh one side of the line down, and it makes the other side seem taller by contrast.  It gives the leather a 3D affect that makes patterns pop.  So that was my goal today – learn how to bevel properly.

Travis, the manager of the store, was the guy giving out pointers.  He set me to work on one of the basic patterns included in the kit I got for Christmas – a western style flower.   When I finally got up to beveling, I was making a dog’s lunch of it.   Travis corrected me on the way I was holding the tool – with the toe in the cut, but with the “face” facing me – and which direction was easiest to work from – left to right as opposed to pulling toward me, which I had been doing.    It was like clouds parting.   I feel really good about my improvement in the class.  Some of the work I did today:

My crap flower, next to what it is supposed to look like at this stage.

An excellent example of the beveling technique I started out with this morning.  The edges are really rough.  I didn’t cut into the leather deep enough.

Travis said I’m pretty good with the shading tool, which is what you see on the petals.  That is also a walking technique, but because the face of that tool is round against the leather, as opposed to an edge dragging down a line, I find it much easier to walk.

Travis was kind enough to ignore my efforts with the camouflage tool – the arched indents along the right side of the stem.

Some simple lines and a swirl I cut for practice beveling.

This time I cut the lines deeper into the leather, to give me a better edge to work from.  I was also finally holding the tool the right way.

You can see a much smoother shaded line along the cut.  That’s what it is supposed to look like!  Yay!

A nice, sharp edge

By the time I did the swirl, I was finally starting to get the hang of it.

See the way the side of the swirl stands up from the leather? That’s what a well-beveled edge is supposed to look like.  Yay!

Travis then  said if I wanted to practice cutting and beveling at the same time, my next project should be some Celtic knot work.  I purchased two “craft aids.”   They are plastic sheets with a raised pattern on one side.  When you get the leather wet, and press the pattern into the leather, the image is indented.  This saves you the pain of having to trace it into the leather by hand.   I’m only trying a little piece first.

What the finished pattern is supposed to look like

The craft aid

My piece, after cutting the pattern. Yay deep lines!

I’ll post again after I bevel and beat on that little knot work pattern.

Oh, and I haven’t done anything else with Mickey yet.  When I update him, I’ll update you.

Published in: on August 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm  Comments (1)  
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