Introduction: Laser Etched Leather Bracelets - Valentines Gifts
Create lovely leather bracelets etched with your favorite sayings/poems.
This project uses a laser cutter. You can make it at the Tech Shop http://www.techshop.ws/
I made these bracelets at the Mid-Peninsula Tech Shop on the 45 watt Epilog laser.
I teach these and other leather craft workshops at the TechShop MP. To find out when the next leather class is scheduled contact firstname.lastname@example.org or check the website for classes
The files are included for three bracelets with and without poems for use with Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator.
Step 1: Gather & Prep Your Materials
1. Vegetable tanned leather in any thickness between 3 oz to 6 oz (3/64" to 3/32")
2. High quality acrylic Ink in a light color. For this tutorial I used Daler-Rowney F.W. Acrylic Water Resistant Artist’s Ink in pearl white and pearl pink.
5. A sponge
6. Paint pallet
7. Flexible acrylic varnish. Either a brush on or spray on. Kryolon spray varnish or a brush on craft varnish.
8. Elastic cord, ribbon, leather cord, or other fastener
Tandy Leather Factory - tandyleatherfactory.com – leather and leather tools
Wickett and Craig - wickett-craig.com – leather
Weaver Leather - weaverleather.com – leather and leather tools
Hide House -hidehouse.com - local leather supply in Napa CA
Blick - dickblick.com – arts supplies, ink, paints, brushes, varnish, paint pens
These items are also available at local arts and crafts supply stores. Support local businesses.
Michaels or JoAnns Fabrics – art supplies, jewelry supplies, glue, some leather tools
Prepare your leather:
Cut your leather to size 7" x 3"
Dip your leather in clean water
Sandwich the cut leather between two straight boards to flatten the leather. (see photo)
Leave for an hour or two, or overnight until the leather stays flat.
Step 2: Paint Your Leather
Light color inks will allow your etched poems to show up. If you use dark colored inks there will not be enough contrast to see the etched image.
Using two compatible colors as you paint adds visual interest. In the first photo yellow and light green were allowed to blend as they were painted onto the leather.
There are two sides of the leather, smooth and textured. Paint on the smooth side. Leave the suede, textured side unpainted.
1. In your paint pallet add pearl white ink in one compartment, pearl pink in another compartment, and a mix of the two colors in another compartment. Each time you dip your paintbrush into the ink dip into a different color. Allow the colors to blend on the leather as you paint.
2. Stroke your brush in a deliberate pattern such as along a diagonal line. Allow streaks of ink to show to add texture. Clean up globs of ink that collect on the side of the leather.
3. Allow the ink to dry before adding more coats. Add as many coats of ink as needed to get a color you are happy with.
4. Let the ink dry completely before using on the laser. Keep your leather flat.
Step 3: Prep Your Leather and Laser
The painted side of your leather should be dry so the paint does not smear. However, it can help to laser your leather when it is wet. Wet leather will lay flatter on the laser bed and will be less likely to scorch.
To wet the leather:
Turn the painted side over onto a clean piece of paper. Use a wet sponge to soak water onto the unpainted suede side of your leather. You will notice the leather getting darker where it is wet. Wet until it is evenly dark with water.
Make sure your leather is not dripping wet. Check your painted side to make sure that no touch ups are needed.
Place your leather in the upper left corner of the laser bed. Focus the laser according to manufacturer instructions.
Focusing Tip for Leather:
Leather is a natural material and can vary in thickness. Focus your laser in a few different places on your leather. Choose the focus setting for the thinnest part of your leather.
If your leather edges are not cut evenly you may want to set a new "home" so your vector cut will be inside the edge of your leather.
Step 4: Laser Settings
Open the "love bracelets" file in Corel Draw
Change your artboard size to 7" x 2.5" and center the artwork on the board if needed
Make sure your 0/0 point is in the top left corner of your artboard
I used the following settings in Corel Draw. Your settings may vary depending on your laser, the thickness of your leather and other factors. It is always best to bring extra material to test your settings.
45 watt Epilog Laser
Resolution: 400 dpi
Job Type: Combined
Piece Size: Horizontal 7" Vertical 2.5"
Raster Setting: Speed 55 Power 65
Image Dithering: Floyd Steinberg
Vector Setting: Speed 20 Power 60 Frequency 500
Print: 2 copies
Note: Three vector passes and/or a lower speed may be needed for thicker leather.
Step 5: Finish Your Bracelets
Your leather may have scorch or soot marks.
Get your sponge damp with clean water, not dripping wet. Gently wipe the soot marks off the leather.
Be careful not to rub so hard that you smear your ink.
Wipe the cut edges of the leather to remove soot.
Allow the leather to dry completely.
After the leather has dried spray or paint on an acrylic varnish to protect your painting from dirt and sweat. Do not use too much varnish or it will crack. A light coat is all that is needed.
Allow the varnish to dry.
Cut a piece of cord or ribbon about 11" long for each bracelet. Adjust for the size of your wrist. String through the holes of the bracelet. Place the bracelet on your wrist. Tie the ribbon or cord.