Leather Jewelry Making Tips and 4 Unexpected Ways to Use a Simple Leather Branch
One of my favorite finds in Tucson 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 components to play with, especially since I have been slow to warm up to leather jewelry. Consider me warmed up!
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.
Branch 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.
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
Branch 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.
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!
Branch 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!
Branch as a Bail
I love how 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.
I slid the 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 (you know I could win that one!), this necklace wasn’t right for me. Or, perhaps, the sari silk just wasn’t right for the necklace. 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 leather cord.
Leather Jewelry Inspiration
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.
Here are some more inspiring photos of LillyPilly Designs’ leather jewelry and components.