FrogSkin Background

I updated this blog post from long ago to include a new video and some photos.

Tommy McLintic of South Africa first showed me this very effective background. He is also author of the “Let’s Make a Gadget” postings on this blog.

This method might look very laborious and tedious, but a surprizingly large area can be covered without too much effort if you enjoy the craft and want something special. I use it mainly for small projects.

    1. I first draw a feint guide line about 5mm from the edge of the surface I want to decorate – this line will later be the guide for a border stamp I will use around the background effect.
    2. Next I start with the cased leather and the largest smooth seed stamp I have – a Craftool #S864. It must have a round a dome as possible.
      In the example above you will see little dimples in the ‘mounds’ – my leather is fairly thin and I do not want to punch them in too hard or deep.

    1. I follow no rule when I place these first dots – as soon as you think a pattern might evolve, break away. I like to group some of the largest dots together as you see above, and then when those are all done, I look for any large open spaces and either place a few smaller groups or single dots.
    2. With the following size of seeder down (Craftool #S631), I surround all the large ‘mounds’ with smaller ones. You could also just work randomly and that would give a different effect.

    1. Be careful as you use smaller seeders – they need considerably less striking force on your mallet to make an impression and you will be used to a harder tap with the larger punch.
      Remember also that it takes many small dots to fill even a small area, so you do not want to leave too much space open for the smallest seeder.

    1. The smallest seeder, a Craftool #S931, is then used to fill in the gaps.

      If you want to, you can take the latgest seeder again and just ‘redo’ one or two of the larger dots that have lost its shape.

    2. An example of the coloring done with an airbrush – difficult to stay within the border tool used around the background.

Here are some examples where I have used this on projects.  First my wife’s handbag:

The rest of the bag was airbrushed – you can see it was spirit based dye – it did not penetrate all that well.   Now, after more than twenty years,  it looks antique, but I would have liked it to be more solid in color.  Waterbased dye penetrate better when used in an airbrush.

A very simple example of the frog skin pattern being used for a covered buckle:


This is a bag I made about ten years ago and I use it to carry tools and what-not to leather shows and guild meetings.  It also shows some other arrangements of the seeder tools:


Here is a video that shows some ideas about backgrounds:

Stitching Pony Sky-Hook

Stitching Pony Sky-Hook


Length of Light Chain, 1,7 to 2,0 Meter in length (6′-0″ to 6′-6″) depending on the height of the ceiling above the jaws of the stitching horse; One Small “G” Clamp approx. 25mm (1″) jaw opening; Two Leather Pads to suit the jaws of the “G” clamp; One Large screw type eyelet; One Large Cup Hook; and One Hook bent out of firm wire (See Figure 1 for shape of hook.)


  1. Drill a hole through the body of the “G” clamp so that the end of the chain may be attached to the clamp. It may be necessary to use a small split ring for this purpose. Cement the leather pads to both jaws of the “G” clamp. The purpose of these pads is to help prevent the metal jaws of the clamp from marking the leather of your article. Make certain that the screw end of the clamp has a cup over the jaw that will remain stationary while the clamp is being tightened.
  2. Screw the large eyelet into the ceiling, preferably directly over the jaws of your stitching horse. Screw the eyelet into a ceiling beam, and not just anywhere in the ceiling. About 500mm (18″ to 24″) from the eyelet screw the large cup hook also into a ceiling beam. The cup hook is used to hold the chain and clamp, when it is not in use, closer to the ceiling, and out of the way.
  3. Bend a hook as shown in Figure 1, out of firm wire. Make certain that the end of the hook will easily go through the links of the chain. Thread the chain through the eyelet in the ceiling, attach the hook to the free end of the chain, and hook the hook through a link in the chain.


The clamp is easy to use and it will hold awkward shaped leather items above the jaws of the stitching horse, making it much easier for you to reach, and to stitch in difficult places on your article. The clamp and chain is especially valuable when making cases such as handbags etc.

Do not over tighten the clamp on the leather of your article, notwithstanding the leather pads on the jaws of the “G” clamp, it will still mark your leather. Always try to clamp on a buckle, “D” ring, or some part of the article where any marks of the jaws of the clamp will not be noticed.

Covering a weight

Making a WeightThis is one of those totally indispensible articles we have on our workbenches. I cannot do leatherwork without my two weights.

Why Leather Covered? You cannot bring naked ferrous metals into contact with wet veg tan leather – a chemical reaction will immediately start to discolor the leather where the metal is touching.

More about Tom McLintic later, but for now: He is one of the most artistic leather crafters on the planet and he shares all his knowledge widely. It is with his permission that I am posting these instructions and hopefully the many still to come.

So here it is: