Rope and other Easy Borders

This is an update of an old entry and I am going to try to get it at the top of the blog again.  I am adding the Video just made of this very simple effect.

Here is the detail instructions for doing the rope effect and other very simple and effective stamped borders.

Click on the image to see a larger version and then follow the instructions in the text.


First begin by scoring two parallel lines with a divider. #A

Now cut carefully on those lines with a swivel knife. #B You can optionally also bevel the inside of the lines with a smooth or a textured beveler, as you can see on the left of the #B part.

In all these border designs the lined stamp F910 is used. #C

Now stamp a row of these ‘triangles’ against one of the cut lines as you can see in #D (the bottom line was done first).

To do the second line, in the opposite direction, study the enlarged piece to see how the tool is now lined up: one side of the tool is first lined up with the cut line (as in the first row) and the other side of the tool is lined up with the impression against the opposite line so that there is a slight ridge between them.

To clarify further – in the enlargement there is one impression at the top and three running in the opposite direction against the bottom line – see how the one impression in the top line up with the middle of the three impressions at the bottom.

As I indicated earlier, you can optionally bevel the two parallel lines after you have cut them with the swivel knife and before you start the stamping.  Illustration #E was done without any beveling and illustration #F was done over beveled lines.

The border can be used very successfully around 90º corners.  I like to use the dividers again to score the lines I am going to use.  When I reach the corner, I let the inside leg stand still while the outer leg does the radius around the corner.

As you can see in illustration #G, the outside edge is stamped first and in the bend of the corner, I tilt the tool slightly forward so that it makes a smaller impression and so that it does not overstamp the edge.  Then when I work on the inside line in the other direction, I keep to the same spacing I did on a straight line:  every stamp corresponds to another on the outside line and is spaced so that there is a slight ridge between the two.

You will find that this causes the impressions to bunch up at the very corner so that all the sharp tips are almost on top of each other and this is OK!

Illustration #I shows the success of this border on curved lines.  Again the outside edges are stamped first up to the point where the lines may curve in the opposite direction.  There I stop with that side of the border and first do the other side, which will now become the outside edge of the curve as I proceed.

See more variations using the same F910 tool at the LEATHERLEARN WEBSITE.

Resist and Hi-Lite

At our guild meeting in February we had demos on two tone dying.

One method that works really well on pre-embassed belts, is the same block dyeing that the hippies did in the sixties!

It starts with a belt that was dyed with Pro Waterstain in the bordeaux color (let it dry well for a few hours):

Next a small sponge is used to apply a darker or lighter stain to cloth that is wound tight around a flat piece of wood.

This is wiped lightly across the embossed leather so that just the tops of the tooled designs catch the dye.

The result is really great.  But, like all dyes, it looks fairly dull untill a finish is applied; and here you can see the difference:

Here are more examples Larry did last year:

The other method we explored was resisting parts of a project.   This one started with a simple basket weave – you can use this on floral carving or any tooling you have.

Next you paint one row of the basket weave with super sheen and one row with a brown dye and let it dry well.  It will not look too defined at this point unless you are super anal and sit for hours with a very thin paint brush.

Then you follow the Mr Miyagi instructions for applying Chestnut Hi-Lite stain:  Wipe on – wipe off.

And the magic happens:

The other half of this piece of leather also got basketweaved, and the whole process was the same, except Tan Antique Gel was used in stead of Hi-Lite stain.

Close up:

I like the Hi-Lite more than the antique gel for this particular effect.

So one step further!  Add one more different line to the basket weaving – black dye.  So the four different rows you see here is: not treated / resisted with super sheen / dyed with timber brown dye / dyed with coal black dye.

And after applying the chestnut tan Hi-lite stain, the result is even better than I expected!

There is an older post on the leatherlearn blog about resisting as well:  just search for “resist”.

Strap Cutter

Here is a neat trick shown to me by Larry Moskiewicz.  The purpose is to make sure that the wooden strap cutter does not wander off too easily when you cut straps for horse tack or belts or any other strapping.

By gluing a 1/4″ wide strip of cardboard into the tool, the bar holding the blade is swung slightly, which gives the blade a very slight angle to the cutting direction so that it forces the leather strap being cut, against the guide handle.

I think the photos explain themselves well, but I will show you a close-up or two:

Here you can see the edge of the piece of card board – it is just about 1/16″ thick and 1/4″ wide.

From another angle you can see the piece of cardboard just about showing behind the bar holding the blade.

The next photo shows the same angle, but the bar holding the blade has been drawn back into the handle to expose the piece of cardboard.

This small modification makes one of the simplest tools to use, even more effective than it already is.

Neck Purses

With Christmas around the corner, you may want to make a few quick gifts for the young kids in your family: a small coin pocket that hangs from a lace around the neck.

Their shape is not very crucial, so you can just draw up your own pattern from looking at these pictures. Even the construction of these are not complicated, so just study the pictures and let me know if you have a question.

The pieces of leather cut and decorated
Assembly is simple
The finished products

Embossing a Bird

Here are the first photographs of my latest embossing project: embossing a grey African Hornbil.

The first two photos show the design transfered to the leather, cut with a swivel knife and all the key lines beveled. The purpose of this is to be able to see the design outline on the back of the leather. So the leather needs to be well cased – the water has to penetrate right through the thickness of the leather.

The leather used is a 4oz Royal Meadow Tooling Cowhide – beautiful soft stuff that ‘almost carves itself’!

The Design
First Bevelling

The beveling shows on the flesh side of the leather.

On the Back

I trace the plug on a thicker leather and make sure I trace all the important lines of the design so that I have guides to help me sculpt the plug. After tracing, I cut the plug out smaller than the original design. I reduce the size of the design for the plug by the thickness of the leather that will be over the plug – that piece that I beveled the original design on.

Plug Cut Out
Smaller by Thickness

A French Edge Beveler and a scalpel blade are now used to shape the plug – this is done like a panel sculpture and you need to take care to so it with as much perfection as you want to show in the final carving. Even the slightest bumps show through to the surface. The sharpness of these tools are absolutely crucial to the success of this step.


You will see that I did not include the tail of the bird in the plug – according to the photo the tail is in the background and so I want that to be clearly ‘in the background’.

Plug Ready

Now the outline on the back of the tooling piece is covered in rubber cement and the plug turned front side down to be glued in place. Carefully place it in the outlines you see at the back. I use rubber cement so that at this point the gluing is not very permanent and you can still move it.

An optional step before this, is to stretch the inside of the design a bit by rolling the leather over a small marble rolling on a flat surface.

Glued on Back

The rest to follow soon!