Introduction: DIY Custom Leather Print Gift

About: Imagination is the mother of all inventions...necessity is just the marketing pitch to get rich from it! I love Scuba diving, and everything nautical. I am the problem solver type. I like to fix things be it e…

So for Christmas we wanted to do something cool for our Managers at work. We decided to do custom footballs having all employees sign a "game ball". Well if you ever priced getting a customized football its rather cost prohibitive for 1, and we need 4. So I took on the task of customizing the balls with the company logo....should be easy, just google, not so easy for the DIYer it turned I had to figure it out myself. 

The balls needed the company logo on them and it needed to be tough and resilient. With a base idea to use printable water slide decals I picked up at a hobby shop I ran some tests on a blank piece of leather and I found the right mix and technique to get them to work on leather.

Step 1: What You Will Need

You need:

Printable water slide decal kit (available at any Hobby Shop) 
Water (2 bowls)
Water activated glue of your choice ( I used Gorilla glue, the fast cure type)
Computer, printer and photo editor of your choice.

Step 2: Prep Your Work

Determine the size and placement of your logo. Mine is 1X2. Couldn't go bigger because of the curvature of the ball. Follow the directions included with your decal kit. Its pretty straight forward, print, spray overcoat of clear sealant (included with the kit) and let dry completely.

Step 3: Application

1. Put your decals in a dish of water to soak them.

2. Thoroughly wet the leather down with water. 

3. Apply a small dab of the Gorilla Glue where you want the logo and spread out with your finger to a thin layer dipping your finger in water to thin it out as much as possible.

4.  Position and slide your decal into place. Work quickly

5. Blot off excess water and any glue from around decal. Work quickly.

6. Inspect the decal and work out any wrinkles or quickly.

Step 4: Let Them Cure

When you are done let them sit to air cure. Use nail polish remover to clean up your fingers.

The result is extremely durable. Up close they look and feel like they were silk screened.

Check out the video of the durability of my prototype.

Then get some Markers and have your coworkers sign.

Its a great "Team Gift" for your bosses and managers...good brownie points too ;)

Step 5: Final Product

This technique will work on any leather I suppose, but the glue will darken the leather and put a shine on it. These balls are dark and it doesn't show much.


*Please vote for this in the Holiday contest, and have a very Merry Holiday and a great New Year*


*Update, had our party yesterday and the Game Balls were a hit!

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