Creativity On Demand: Die Cut Your Own Leather Jewelry-Making Supplies
As the popularity of leather jewelry continues to grow, the market has responded with an abundance of leather jewelry-making supplies. Many of them are inspiring and fun to work with–but nothing compares to being able to make exactly what you want, in the colors you want, whenever you want! That’s why I’m excited to tell you about the Sizzix Big Shot!
The Sizzix Big Shot Jewelry Studio Machine, along with the Movers & Shakers dies featuring designs by my crafty friend Jill MacKay, are perfect for cutting and/or embossing leather (and thin-gauge metals–more on that below). Our jewelry designs are very personal creations, and sometimes manufactured supplies just won’t work for the visions we have in mind. Fortunately we can make our own by die-cutting a wide variety of components using Jill’s bold shape and intricate bracelet dies–and then embellishing those pieces (or any purchased pieces) with Jill’s embossing dies.
The flower dies are my favorite; flowers are usually my go-to design in jewelry making, so I was immediately in love with Jill’s layered leather flower bracelet on the cover of the March 2017 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine. Because Jill’s bracelet project is a great introduction to using the Sizzix Big Shot for leather and metal jewelry making, and because we loved it so much, we created two great collections so you can try it for yourself. The exclusive Die Cut Leather Blossom Deluxe Collection includes the Big Shot machine and other supplies needed to make your version of Jill’s bracelet and more leather jewelry supplies; and the Die Cut Leather Blossom Basic Collection includes everything in the deluxe collection except the Big Shot machine. Both collections include a digital version of the magazine so you can see how Jill made her pretty leather cuff.
How to Use the Sizzix Big Shot Jewelry Studio Machine
Using the Sizzix Big Shot Jewelry Studio Machine couldn’t be easier–it’s simply a matter of stacking layers in the proper order (and they’re marked with directions), placing the stack on the machine, and turning the crank until the stack passes through the rollers. Then, voila! You have die-cut or embossed leather or metal (or paper, or . . .) shapes and components.
In all of my experiments getting to know this machine, there were only two cases in which my materials were too thick and the cuts didn’t quite go all the way through. This was easy to fix with a regular craft knife.
Embellishment Ideas for Leather Jewelry Supplies
Once you’ve cut and/or embossed your leather jewelry components, you don’t have to stop there! Keep the embellishments and customization going with these ideas:
– add color by brushing on colorful tints, powders, and inks, or
– draw on dots, lines, and other details with fabric markers or paint pens
– get the leather very wet and then wrap it around steel mandrels or other shapes to dry into the shape of that form
– sand the surface, edges, or random spots to give the leather a worn look or to change the surface from shiny to matte or from matte to dull/rough
– add designs and color by stitching or embroidering dots, lines, flowers, and other designs
Thrifty Leather Jewelry Supplies: Use Your Scraps
I’m a thrifty girl, so I was inspired and challenged by the remnants left after using the Sizzix Big Shot to cut out leather shapes. You’ll have interesting pieces leftover once you cut out shapes with the dies, and the negative-space pieces can become the stars of your jewelry designs when layered over other interesting materials like metal, silk, or other fabrics. For example, place a die-cut, pierced strip of leather over a slightly larger but similarly shaped piece of metal, allowing the metal to show through and around the leather design (or vice versa). Secure the two layers together with rivets, leather knots, or other cold connections.
You can die-cut smaller shapes from the remnants of the original leather pieces, and once you’ve cut out as many as you can, make the most of what’s left by cutting strips from the remaining leather, as straight as you can make them. These leather “cords” can be used to stitch or tie pieces together, to make leather knots for cold connections, or as linear designs. You can also braid or weave them into larger pieces.
Keep going down to the smallest leftover bits! After you’ve cut out an intricate pierced design like my white leather strip shown above, all of those tiny interior pieces can be used on larger pieces to add another layer or dimension, as the centers of flowers, aligned in patterns to create geometric designs, etc.
Die-Cutting and Embossing Metal Sheet with the Sizzix Big Shot
My research and personal experiments show me that this versatile machine can also cut and emboss thin-gauge, annealed metal sheet in gauges up to 26 gauge (and possibly well-annealed 24-gauge metal sheet). Working with thin-gauge metals stretches my creativity. Besides being more affordable, metals in thin gauges are perfect for stacking into layered, dimensional designs with appealing depth, using rivets and other cold connections.
Thin-gauge metal can also be soldered, just remember that thinner metals will melt much faster than thicker ones, so use easy solder, flux well, and watch your metal closely. While they’re thin and soft enough to use in the Big Shot, thin metals can be strengthened afterward by hammering and work hardening, backing with firmer materials like other metal, leather, or resin, or by enameling.
I’ve been a paper crafter for as long as I can remember, and I’ve often wished my paper die-cutting and embossing machine could cut and emboss jewelry-making supplies, like leather and thin-gauge metals. So imagine how happy I was when just such a machine was developed! I love creating my own leather jewelry-making supplies with my Sizzix Big Shot, and I’m having a great time seeing what else this versatile machine can do. I hope you can get one of our Die Cut Leather Blossom Collections below and enjoy making your version of Jill’s pretty leather flower bracelet as well as a stash of on-demand leather jewelry supplies!