Leather Jewelry Making: 6 Tips for Personalizing and Embellishing Leather Cuffs with Candie Cooper
I can’t think of a jewelry trend that’s hotter right now than leather jewelry making, except maybe bracelets and cuffs. Put them together you have super-trendy but somehow completely timeless–’70s anyone?–leather cuffs. Fortunately, leather jewelry making is fun and easy, inexpensive, and lends itself to so many materials, it’s unlimited in possibilities.
You can buy leather strips and set your own snaps or other closures in them, but companies like LeatherCord USA offer such a huge variety of ready-to-personalize leather cuffs in so many colors and finishes, you can skip right to the fun parts: embellishing.
With leatherworking stamps, threads and other fibers, metal accents and charms, beads, or even more leather jewelry making supplies like leather cord, leather lacing, or leather flowers and other accents, you could make leather cuffs every day and never have the same look twice. (Thank goodness for the affordable part.)
I know, I know–you’re thinking, “Every day? Come on.” But it’s possible, and I know it because I just watched Candie Cooper’s leather jewelry making video, Leather Cuffs from Start to Finish, and I learned all the cool ways to make unique leather cuffs. Here’s just a smidge of the ideas I learned.
- Plan ahead. Have some idea of how you want to embellish your cuffs before you choose the type of leather you’ll use. For example, Candie recommends vegetable-tanned leather because it takes texture well from leather stamps, etc.; colored and stained leather doesn’t take texture as well. If you don’t intend to texture your leather cuffs, you aren’t limited to the type of leather you use.
- Save money. Find a store that sells finished leather goods and ask to buy scraps. Candie says she has bought a huge bag of leather scraps for as little as $5. Sweet! Then you can use scissors or cool tools like various Sizzix cutting machines with Jill MacKay’s border and flower dies to cut out your own unique leather accents.
- Case things out. Before texturing (also called tooling) or carving leather, you need to case it. Casing leather reintroduces moisture to the leather, softens it, and prepares it to take the impression from your tools. Candie uses a piece of a sponge and a small amount of water to case her leather; there are a variety of leather casing solutions online as well (commercial ones, water with dish detergent, etc.). Be sure to moisten the leather surface equally and consistently or you might get unwanted water spots when it dries. The leather will darken when wet, and while most of that darkening will go away as the leather dries, it will likely still be a bit darker when completely dry, just FYI.
- Be colorful. Did you know there’s such a thing as leather paint? There is, and it creates opaque color on leather surfaces, meaning you aren’t limited to commercial leather colors and your leather cuffs can be literally any color you can imagine. Candie also shares how to highlight texture on leather using water stains that come in many colors and metallics, as well as how to seal all the fabulous colorful designs you create.
- Test it. Before you apply an ink, paint, stain, or other pigment to your leather cuffs, it’s a god idea to test it. Make sure you like how the color looks on the color of leather you’re using; make sure the consistency is right so the liquid doesn’t run amok and ruin your leather cuff; etc. It’s a good idea to test stamps before stamping, too; Candie keeps a few leather test scraps on hand for just these reasons. (The leather scraps from number 2 could be ideal for this.)
- Back it up. You need a hard surface behind your leather when stamping it. Metalworkers can use their steel blocks, as Candie does in the video. She also says some leatherworkers use slabs of marble; I think that would be nice to have a larger surface so you don’t have to keep moving the leather and making sure it’s over the steel block before stamping. You can get inexpensive marble slabs from tile and counter shops (the pieces they cut out for the sinks are pretty affordable scraps), or use a marble or similar stone cutting board without breaking the bank.
There’s so much more, I could go on and on, but I’d rather start making some leather cuffs!
You can learn a hot technique and have a blast playing with leather jewelry making with help from one of the most fun and talented jewelry makers I know, Candie Cooper, in her leather jewelry making video, Leather Cuffs from Start to Finish. She’ll teach you the basics like what leather to use and how to texture it using leather stamps. You’ll learn how to color leather using various pigments, stains, and paints, as well as how to punch holes in leather and attach surface embellishments perfect for making cool leather cuffs, like rivets, beads, fibers, and other accents. These leather cuffs are a great way to use up random embellishments and scraps from your craft studio, too!
Have I mentioned how much FUN you’ll have making armfuls of trendy, envy-inducing leather cuffs? These leather jewelry making techniques are perfect for tweens to teens, young adults to the young at heart–and the cuffs you’ll make just happen to be great personalized and affordable one-of-a-kind handmade gifts for your best girls and boys of all ages.