Leather Jewelry Making and Inspiring Ways to Repurpose Leather Hardware with Melissa Cable

Welcome and thank you to our guest blogger today, jewelry-making expert Melissa Cable. Among other things, Melissa is known for her leather jewelry work and line of leather jewelry-making tools. Today she’s sharing clever ways to use and repurpose hardware intended for leather jewelry making.

Leather Hardware Through the Looking Glass

by Melissa Cable

My favorite symbol is a spyglass; those telescopic looking glasses associated with sailors and adventurers. That imagery shows up in my work now and again, and occasionally someone will notice and ask, “What’s up with that?” After joking about having pirate ancestry, I explain that to me, the spyglass symbolizes curiosity. And if there is one thing I know for sure about myself, I am curious. Admittedly, sometimes to a fault! I’ve been known to get lost in research, neglecting pressing work, when I discover a new material or technique. I want to learn everything there is to know about it. And then, I want to learn what we don’t know about it.

This is exactly what happened with leather hardware. When I first immersed myself in the art of leatherworking, I quickly became surrounded by all types of new hardware I had never used while working with metal, clay, and plastic. Snaps, cap rivets, large eyelets, and spots were all things I was familiar with but had never thought much about. However, once I learned how to use them properly, my brain wanted a closer look, so I pulled out the spyglass and let my curiosity take over. Here are a few of the discoveries I made during my exploration.     leather jewelry making snaps

Leather Jewelry-Making Hardware: Snaps

Traditionally used as closures, snaps also make great bezels that can be filled with resin, concrete, or epoxy clay (see my upcoming article in the August/September 2016 issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry for more information on these materials). My favorite thing to embed in these “bezels” is polymer clay. Turns out, most leather can survive in a toaster oven at 275°F, the baking temperature of many polymer clays.

leather jewelry making snapsTo make a snap bezel, I attach a line 24 snap receiver (also called a socket) to the surface of the leather with a 3/16″ eyelet. When using resins and other liquid fillers, don’t forget to place tape on the back of the eyelet to prevent the solution from leaking out.

leather jewelry making hardwareLeather Jewelry-Making Hardware: Spots

My favorite leather hardware, two-pronged spots can be modified in several ways to create interesting components. Because they come in a large variety of designs and metal finishes and are generally inexpensive, they are great to have on hand for all types of designs, be it strung, wired, or stitched.

leather jewelry making hardware as connectorsThe prongs can be rolled outward to create connectors …

leather jewelry making hardware as slides… rolled inward to create interesting slides . . .

using leather jewelry making hardware as a bail . . . or one prong can be rolled inward and one rolled outward to create an interesting bail. The possibilities are endless!

Leather Jewelry-Making Hardware: Cap Rivets

Cap rivets are made up of two pieces, a cap and a post. They are usually used to connect two objects together. I love to use them as a pop of metal in my designs, but when I am working with thin leather or metal, the larger caps do not set properly. The posts are often too long for just one layer of material, and they get crushed or are offset when set in thin materials.

leather jewelry making hardwareHowever, by using the cap only, you can add that pop of metal without these frustrations. Place the cap through a tight-fitting hole in your material. Lay the cap head on the concave side of your setting block and slightly flare the tube on the back of the cap with a flaring cone or dapping punch. Use your chasing hammer to gently flatten the tube as you would a tube rivet. This works best on materials that have no stretch. —MC

Inspired to work with leather? Ready to see how fun it is to add leather to your metal jewelry making? Get Melissa’s two leather jewelry-making DVDs, Intro to Leather Jewelry Making and Intermediate Leather Jewelry Making, along with her Basic Leatherworking Collection for Metal Jewelry Makers for endless possibilities.

Read Leather Jewelry Making: Tips, Basics and Beyond with Leather Jewelry Artist Melissa Cable for more from Melissa.


About the Author

Melissa Cable is the founder of the Create Recklessly line of leather jewelry-making tools and supplies and is the author of Spotlight on Wire, Metal Jewelry in Bloom, and Beautiful Leather Jewelry. She is a frequent contributor to Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine and a great leather project can be found in the May/June 2016 issue of Lapidary Journal’s Jewelry Artist.


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3 Comments

  1. Sharon B at 5:45 am May 8, 2017

    Thanks for some new techniques!
    I use re purposed leather,suede, and found objects in my jewelry projects.

  2. Nancy C at 3:59 pm May 8, 2017

    Thank you for this information. What size spots would you use to make a bail?

    • Tammy Honaman at 9:49 am May 9, 2017

      My response would be – it depends on what you want suspend from the bail – which I know doesn’t help. You need a long enough length of metal on the spot to be able to wrap around what you’ll be hanging and then you might want to balance the pretty part of the spot (in scale) to what you’re hanging.

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