Leather Tooled Book Cover with Koi and Hibiscus!
Leather Tooling or Carving is giving 3D effects to Leather by cutting and stamping.
It's such a cool art form!
I want a giant leather mural to hang on the wall--like an old world map or something...
My husband is very good at tooling leather.
He's not a saddle maker...or a cowboy...so he doesn't carve the "traditional" patterns.
Step 1: Supplies!
A great way to get started is to get the
The Deluxe Leathercraft Set ($80)
This comes with all the tools needed to make 7 amazing projects!
(Plus, all the tools needed to do this carved book cover)
Then you'll be ready to carve into a Book Cover ($33)
You will also need a surface to pound on.
It's best to work on a hard granite, quartz or marble.
If you don't have solid counter tops you can buy a quartz slab from Tandy Leather.
We picked up a big slab of marble from a local counter top place.
Step 2: Tracing Pattern
Keep the leather damp and the blade sharp at all times.
Begin by sponging water on the surface of the leather. It will darken in color but the water should not pool.
Let the leather dry slightly.
Tape the pattern on your leather so it wont slide around.
Trace your desired pattern onto the leather by pressing over the pattern with a stylus or a pencil.
You will see the impression left behind in the leather!
Step 3: Begin Cutting!
Next, sharpen (or strop) your blade on a piece of leather.
Begin cutting a groove into the pattern you traced.
Cut straight down into the leather, don't undercut.
Take your time. Go slow on curves. Let the swivel knife do the work.
Get it all outlined like a coloring book page.
Step 4: Tooling!
Once the entire pattern is cut, the next process is stamping.
This will create the relief, the 3D effect.
Now you will need the Beveler tool...it's an oval, rectangle or tear drop stamp that has a grid pattern on it.
Use the beveler to press the leather down on one side of each cut.
Place the edge of the beveler in the cut and hammer gently.
Move the beveler as you hammer to give a smooth imprint.
Bevel the places you want to be darker in color. This is the dimensional shadowing effect.
Use the Seeder to add small circle shapes, like the hibiscus stamen.
Step 5: Details!
After the image has been beveled, then the background is next.
We used a splotchy looking tool for the background.
This is the area behind the fish, flowers and water...but not the border.
We used a hair line tool to make the subtle lines in the fish fins.
Next the cutting knife was used for decorative cuts like arrows in the flowers,
around the fish face and on the waves.
These are shallow cuts, just used to add texture and dimension.
Step 6: Neatsfoot Oil!
Because this was to be a book cover, we opted to use Neatsfoot Oil to soften the leather.
This makes the leather darker in color and very soft.
We held the leather up to the light...check this out!
Step 7: Antiquing!
Next, we used Dark Brown antiquing gel...it's thick and spread all over the leather.
Then the top surface is wiped clean...like glazing...gives the impressions a darker finish in all the grooves.
I love the look of antiquing. It's my favorite, and therefore what I recommend! It makes it look so rich!
Step 8: Finished and Amazing!
After drying, the book is slipped in the cover and admired!
I love how it turned out!
It's a great journal cover and fits any book about 5 by 8"...
ours is 2 inches thick...but thinner books work too!
The fish just wraps around the book, I love the spine!
I love the fish scales!
(my 6 year old son did not like the "extension cord" coming off the fish face--hahaha!)
Check out my blog Doodlecraft for more awesomeness!
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