Leather Jewelry Making Tips and 4 Unexpected Ways to Use a Simple Leather Branch

One of my favorite finds in Tucson earlier this year was the new line of leather components from our friends at LillyPilly Designs. Their leather jewelry examples were so inspiring, I had to get a bunch of their leather jewelry-making components to play with, especially since I was (then) slow to warm up to leather jewelry. That didn’t last long!

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The birds are my favorite–who doesn’t love a cute little bird?–but the flowers and dots are versatile and fun to create with, as well. I bought several of the branch components thinking I’d need them for bird perches, but after I played around awhile, I found other ways to use them that I liked even better.

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As a ring: I learned from LillyPilly Designs that you can shape leather by wetting it and allowing it to dry over some sort of form, so I wrapped a wet leather branch around a ring mandrel and tied it tightly with a scrap of ribbon to hold it in place. The next day, I removed the ribbon and had a leather ring blank.

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LillyPilly recommends using Crafter’s Pick The Ultimate Glue to glue their leather components, so I figured out how far to open up the ring to fit me and then glued it onto the back of one of LillyPilly’s larger leather birds. Once it was dry, I glued a smaller bird on top of the larger one, because the only thing cuter than a bird is a mama bird with a baby bird. #putabirdonit

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I could arrange and rearrange these leather flowers, twigs, and dots from LillyPilly Designs all day! Endless earring ideas!

As earrings: I wrapped aluminum craft wire around two separate leather branches, pierced a hole in the top of each one, added ear wires with jump rings, and voila! Simple, inexpensive, lightweight, eye-catching earrings ideal for summer up-dos and ponytails. I gave them to a friend who spotted them in my studio before I remembered to take a photo–sorry! But you can get the idea with this mockup I made (below), though I used heavier-gauge wire in the originals.

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By the way, I used aluminum wire because I often play with craft wire first when I’m testing a wire design idea, but I liked the way it looked and realized it was lightweight, inexpensive, won’t tarnish (which would be hard to remove next to leather), and held its shape well when wrapped organically around the metal–so I left it!

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As a chain link: This necklace was in progress in the LillyPilly Designs booth inTucson. I snapped the photo as a reminder to think of unexpected ways to use those little leather branches. It worked!

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As a pendant bail: I love the way the rich red of this recycled glass ring from the Trinket Foundry looks with the metallic blue of LillyPilly’s leather branch. To turn the branch into a bail, I simply pierced holes in both ends, folded it around the glass ring, and secured it with a fine silver wire balled on one end and flared into a rivet on the back.

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The tiny block included with Gwen Youngblood’s Riveting Essentials kit provided a perfect divot to hold the balled end of the wire while I flared the back. Super handy!

I slid this glass and leather pendant onto a strip of bright golden yellow sari silk and immediately fell in love with my new necklace. I took this photo so I could tell you all about it and, the next day, planned my outfit so that I could wear it. But when I put my pretty new necklace on and looked in the mirror, I just started laughing. It looked like an Olympic medal! Unless pearl collecting has become an Olympic sport, this necklace wasn’t right for me. Lesson learned: Try on jewelry before you photograph it and get all puffed up about it like I did, ha! I still love the pendant but I think it looks much better on thin leather cord.

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I mentioned LillyPilly’s inspiring leather jewelry designs and the leather dots and flowers components above. One example that really caught my eye in Tucson is this leather flower cuff bracelet made by Heather Lawrenz.

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Denise Peck, the editor of Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine loved Heather’s cuff as well–she featured it in the August/September issue of the magazine and arranged for us to offer a coordinating Leather Flower Cuff kit so you can make your own! It’s a summer-friendly, affordable project great for all skill levels, and we’ve included all of the supplies you need to make it as well as the magazine in the convenient kit–plus a bonus eBook with 10 more leather jewelry-making projects! There are a limited number available; hope you get one!

Here are some more inspiring photos of LillyPilly Designs’ leather jewelry and components.

The connector on the right has a variety of colored dots glued in. You could match school colors or make one to match nearly any outfit you have!

The connector on the right has a variety of colored dots glued in. You could match school colors or make one to match nearly any outfit you have!

I loved how the designers at LillyPilly Designs used their leather ovals and teardrops as big but lightweight links to make a bold necklace.

I loved how the designers at LillyPilly Designs used their leather ovals and teardrops as big but lightweight links to make a bold necklace.

For guaranteed cuteness and whimsy, #putabirdonit! You can almost hear these cuties chirping.

For guaranteed cuteness and whimsy, #putabirdonit! I can almost hear these cuties chirping.

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