Introduction: Hand Painted Leather Headband

Hold your hair back in style and let your creativity shine with a hand painted leather headband. By wetting the leather with alcohol and using alcohol inks, you can create watercolor effects and then sculpt it to fit your style.


Veg tanned leather


permanent markers

alcohol inks

X-acto knife



spray bottle

cotton swabs

strip of leather (I used a rough round piece. It's almost as if it has barbs on it, so it stays in place well.)

waxed thread


stylus or awl

button or other accessory (optional)

leather modeling tool (optional)

Step 1: Draw

Draw your design with a pencil.

Step 2: Permanent Marker

Trace your design with permanent marker and color any areas you don't want to bleed. I opted to start in the middle, so I could blend the middle color into the colors at each end. The marker will not bleed when alcohol is added, but will be more difficult to use once you've sprayed it down because the tip will soak up the alcohol.

Step 3: Alcohol

Add alcohol to your spray bottle and prep your other tools and materials. Before I was done, I had used a plate for drops of alcohol ink, cup of alcohol, cotton swabs, permanent marker, and a paintbrush.

There are various techniques you can mix and match to create a painting like this, but first, spray down the whole piece with alcohol.

At the bottom, I applied drops of the alcohol ink right from the bottle and then gently sprayed them with the alcohol. This causes the ink to spread. You can also do this in reverse by soaking a section with alcohol and then letting the ink drip onto it.

For splatters, apply the ink directly to the brush to fully load it with color. Hold the brush over the leather and tap the top of the brush.

For light but even color, put a few drops of ink on a plate or palette and paint it on with a brush.

If the color is going places you don't want it to, you can dab it up with a cotton swab, but you have to be quick. The color soaks in fast.

You can still use the markers as well, but minimally. The tip of the brush will soak up the alcohol, and not apply ink after a bit of use. However, you can also dip the tip of the marker in the ink on your plate to mix colors or replace the color in the tip that the alcohol pulled out. Permanent markers are made with alcohol inks, so it won't hurt your marker.

Step 4: Leather Modeling

Rinse the leather gently in water. Don't worry, your colors won't come off unless there are still pools of alcohol. If the alcohol has soaked in, you're okay to rinse.

I used a leather modeling tool to add a bit of definition to the lines and add some texture. It was a challenge to photograph this, but, trust me, it really helps to keep it from looking so flat.

Step 5: Cutting

Cut out your design with an X-acto knife.

Step 6: Sculpting

While the leather is still wet, it is very moldable. When it dries, it will become stiff and hold the shape you put it in. Twist, curl and bend the leather until you're happy with the shape. You may want to put it on your head to get an idea of what shapes will be most attractive.

Step 7: Headband

Punch two holes toward the top of the leather and two holes around the middle with your stylus or awl. Each pair should be about a 1/4" apart. I used the line down the middle of the feather to hide these holes.

Thread your needle and run it through the first pair of holes beginning on the back.

Lay the middle of your strip of leather between the holes and tie the ends of the thread over the leather strip in a secure knot.

Cut off the excess thread.

Repeat on the other two holes.

Step 8: Accessorize

Place any accessories you want to add at the end of the feather to decide where you want them. Punch two more holes at the end of the leather in a place where they can hold both the leather strip on the back and your accessories on the front.

Attach your accessories the same way you attached the leather strip in the previous step, though you may need to go through the holes more than once. I stitched on the metal hoop and then went around again to attach the button.

Step 9: Enjoy

Tie on your new headband and rock your hair with your own handmade style!

Hair and Makeup Contest

Third Prize in the
Hair and Makeup Contest

Rainbow Contest

Participated in the
Rainbow Contest

Unusual Uses Challenge

Participated in the
Unusual Uses Challenge