Today we had a leather workshop with Kat Marks.
I think i may have found a new material love….. the vegetarian in me is shocked and horrified but the artist in me is excited and proud of the cuff she made! Hrmm… i’m a little torn with this one, but then again if i really cared i’d be an all-natural, everything handmade from the most ecological materials i could find, no transport other than my feet, no heating, no electricity, no washing vegan! And i’m just too selfish for that. In that case i will look at it as, my family are not vegetarians, i am just using the leather from all the meat they eat, really i’m just helping not to cause waste….. okay, that was flimsy even for me! The vegetarian, animal-lover in me is going to stop talking now and the artist who loves leather is gonna come out and be all proud of her cuff and tell ya’ll all about it!
Bye bye vegetarian Chloe.
Hello art chick Chloe!
Getting our leather on!
How to make a leather cuff
What you will need
A kick-ass teacher like Kat Marks
3mm thick veg-tan leather
Leather dye (i’m using black) and cotton wool on a stick for application + latex gloves
A size 3 leather beveler
A round click knife and cutting mat
A metal ruler
A leather hole-puncher
A strip of calico/muslin cloth
A little screw clasp
What to do
I forgot to photograph the first stage! but it’s easy enough to explain. Taking a strip cutter (see photo above), adjust the measurement to how thick you want your cuff, mine is 3cm thick. Find a friend to pull one end of the leather, and pull it through the strip cutter. You will then end up with a strip of leather. Cut off the excess at one end, to get a straight edge, wrap around your arm to measure how thick you want it (be sure to cut extra as one part will overlap to form the clasp) and cut. These cuts will be done using your cutting mat, the metal ruler and a clicking knife.
Here is my strip. You might want to cut the ends into a curve, or some other shape, but i have left mine straight.
Next we bevel the edges using a size 3 beveler. This process cannot be rushed or you make mistakes and mark the leather. Carefully, and slowly, run the beveler along the edges.
This is what the edge looks like unbeveled.
This is how it should look when beveled. Repeat this on all sides, including the ends.
Again, forgot to photograph but the next stage is punching the holes. My measurements are for the size of clasp i have, but yours may be different. Mark a dot on one end 3cm away from the top and centered, punch this using the largest hole punch. Mark a dot 1cm away from the top and centered, punch this using the third smallest hole punch. From the larger hole, cut a small strip out from the centre away from the end.
My design for my cuff is punching various sized holes on the leather to create a pattern. But design your however you want using the clicking knife or a scribe to draw into the leather, etc.
Next stage is dying. Pop your latex gloves on, and cover your work surface. Apply the dye using the cotton wool in nice even strokes, back and forth across the surface. Covering all sides, back, front and all edges. Use a paintbrush to get right down into the holes. Keep letting it dry between coats and layer it up as much as you want until the colour is as dark as you want.
Allow to fully dry.
Buff the edges. This takes a lot of pressure. Use a strip of calico and spit/sugar water/a glue stick to work the edges back and forth with loads of pressure until the edges are smooth. Your finger will hurt by the end of this! and it helps if you trim your nails to start with (as you will have no nail to end with!).
Next buff up the whole cuff using caranuba wax and your calico. This not only gives the piece a nice shine, but it also protects the leather and seals in the dye. If you want to further protect and make it shinier use a little polish and buff it up again. There are various other waxes and polishers you can use to achieve various finishes but these are the basic ones.
Get your little screws.
And screw it in the small end hole.
And now you are finished!
Thanks Kat! Your workshop was wonderful
What do you think of my cuff?