Burned Glue Faux Leather Steampunk Arm Cuff

So for this "Stick It" Instructable, I decide that I would do a
technique that I haven't done in a really long time. When I saw that adhesive was one of the projects components, it hit me like a ton of bricks. The burned glue technique is as old as the hills. This process will create a surface that will resemble either a faux metal or a faux leather look depending on the treatment you add on top. For this project I feel like it's kind of a combo of both looks. Be warned it can get messy! You could use this method to make earrings, bracelets, necklaces, book covers, cover boxes to make them look antique etc...The sky is the limit.

Step 1: Getting Started

Here is what you will need to do this project.

Tacky Glue

Card Stock or any stiff paper (I used black card stock but it doesn't really matter the color for the most part unless you will see the back)

Clip art for elements

Either an Exacto knife or plotter cutter

Candle for burning

Lighter or matches to light the candle

Parchment paper

Tweezers to hold elements over the flame. Or straight pins as I used

Eyelets and eyelet setter

Gold dust or gold paste

Clear spray sealer

Step 2: Making the Template

I started with a scrap piece of 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper to make the template. Fold the paper in half landscape direction. Decide on the shape you would like and draw half of the shape. Keeping it folded in half, cut it out and place it on your arm to check for size. Adjust for size as need. I scanned this template into the computer placing a piece of black paper behind it. Loaded it in to Photoshop and hit invert to give me a black template that I can put in to the robo cutter.

Step 3: Creating the Elements

Because this was a steampunk style, I searched for clip art that supported this theme like the cog wheels and flourishes. I arranged all the art work in Photoshop to fit on an 8.5 x 11 template. I wanted to double up on these elements when i cut them out so I could glue them together and create a raised edge on the designs so they would stand out more. I sent all the art work over to my robo cutter, loaded some black card stock and cut everything out. (Cut 2 of everything.) After everything was cut I glued the cog, edge piece and flourish duplicate pieces together and set aside the base pieces. After all the top pieces were clued together, I put them aside to dry.

Step 4: Getting All the Pieces Together

After all the elements that were previously glued, I arranged them in the way I thought they would look best. I took a picture so I could reference it later to put them in the same places. In order to prepare the pieces for the next step, I used some straight pins and stuck them between the two pieces of each the elements to make a little handle of sorts so I could hold them over the flame with out burning my fingers.

Step 5: Time to Burn!

Now that you have all the pieces ready, it's time to burn. First, I did try this with Elmer's glue on a scrap piece and the results were less than stellar. It's far too thin. So I highly recommend using the actual tacky glue for this reason: It's super thick which is important to this process. The thickness is what will help create the texture.

First, you will load the glue on your piece as thick as you can get. The thicker the better. I use my finger, it's just easier than trying to use a brush with something this thick especially on the smaller pieces. The goal here is to make sure the glue is so thick that it is opaque. You don't want to have any of the base show through. All you should see is glue. You will have to do this one piece at a time because you need to burn it while it's nice and wet. As in the video, you will let the flame directly touch the surface of the glue while moving it in a circular motion. Periodically check to see your burn progress. You want all the white to go completely black.

As soon as it is completely black, place the piece on a flat surface. Using a crumpled up paper towel, press straight up and down into the surface to create the texture. Turn your wrist in different directions as you press into the glue so you won't get a repetitive pattern. The paper towel will also pick up some of the soot created by the flame. Repeat for all pieces. Then set aside to dry.

What's happening is the flame is solidifying the outer layer of the glue giving it a plastic like feel while underneath, there is still wet glue so when pressure is applied the wet glue squishes around under the harder layer creating the texture. (If you break through the top layer and you see white peeking through you can stick it back in the flame and blacken it again.Then repeat pressing the paper towel into the repaired spot)

(DISCLAIMER: Please work in a well ventilated area when executing this step. Although there is only a small amount of smoke that comes off the glue burn, it's always a good idea to work safely.) If it starts to really smoke hard you are not moving it around enough.

Step 6: Flattening Your Pieces

After the pieces have dried, you may need to flatten them. When you go through the burn process some of the elements may curl a bit. The best way to fix this is to get some parchment paper and a couple of heavy books.

Arrange all the pieces on a layer of parchment paper. When you have them lying as flat as you can, cover with a second piece of parchment and smooth down. Lay a couple of heavy book on top. I set mine out in the hot summer heat for about an hour and it seemed to do the trick to flatten them.

Step 7: Time to Add Some Gold

Now that you have all your nice flat pieces, it's time to give it a bit of flash. I used a gold metallic super fine powder because I had it. But you can also use paint or gold paste. And of course it doesn't even have to be gold. Pick any color you like. The key is to just graze the surface with the medium so it accentuates the texture. With a really light touch, just lightly rub the gold on the raised parts of the piece. It gives it a kind of degraded or aged surface which is exactly what I wanted for this look. Repeat on all but the base piece. We aren't going to put gold on the supporting piece because it looks more like leather and will make the gold pieces pop more.

Step 8: Let's Put It All Together!

After all the accent pieces are gold, you are going to use the same tacky glue to attach them to the base. Paint or rub the tacky glue on the back of each piece and arrange them how you like them. After everything is glued in place, you will place the fully glued piece between to pieces of parchment paper on a flat surface and weigh it down with a heavy book. Let this dry over night.

Step 9: Adding the Eyelets So You Can Lace It Up

Now that the whole piece is dried, you need to add the eyelets. I choose some eyelets that had an antique gold finish to compliment the golden accents. I just randomly decided that I wanted them space this way. Your measurements may be completely different depending on your particular design, but mine were about an inch apart. I marked each spot with a white eyeliner pencil and then punched out the holes to fit the eyelet into. Just insert the eyelet so the flat side is on the front. Flip it over and put the disc on a hard surface. Using the included tool, center it into the hole and smash it with the hammer. My eyelet setter didn't work very well, but all the ugly was on the back so it's okay, we gonna cover that.

Now that all the elements are in and on, I sprayed it with a light coat of sealer to protect and secure the gold powder. It could have probably been done before the eyelets were put in but I didn't think of it until after.

(even though there is a spool of lace present in the photo, I decided not to use it.)

Step 10: Getting Rid of the Ugly

The back looks pretty bad at this point so we are going to cover that. Now we'll use that second piece of base that was cut earlier. Spread glue on the nice piece, flip it over and line it up with the finished piece and smooth it out, making sure that the glue is all the way to the edges. Let this dry, then use a pointed implement such as a pen or knitting needle to poke back through the hole made with the eyelet. Measure out a length of your choice of lacing material that will be long enough to zig zag down the length of your cuff. I wrapped the ends of the lace with tape to make it go through the eyelets easier. Now just lace it up like a sneaker.

Step 11: That's It!

Now just slip your arm in and tighten up the laces. You now have a burned glue steampunk arm cuff! Thanks so much for taking a look!

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    11 Discussions

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    nandrew

    3 months ago

    Wow, superb work!
    Way back in the day I had to make some theatrical comedy/tragedy masks and the burned glue method I used was on brown paper sack and the thick glue was dry before sooting it up and buffing. Looked like metal.
    I love your steampunk style and leather look Awesome job !

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    tattoogirlHGC

    Reply 3 months ago

    Oh my goodness it's like 12 years old now. It just says Craft Robo and underneath it says Graftec I'm sure they have newer models by now. I paid $250 but it was a long time ago. I'm sure it's more by now. I have seen used ones on ebay for under 200. You could start there. Search Craft Robo

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    cjraabe

    3 months ago

    Great instructable and congratulations on winning the stick it contest! This is a great technique. I like making unusual outfits for 18" dolls, like American Girl, and have been designing a modern wonderwoman costume. But the technique I've been planning uses craft foam, which is heavy for so small a costume and, IME, is easily torn. This might work much better. Have you worn your arm cuff? Did it survive the event? If it's sturdy as is, wonderful. If not, do you think gluing fabric or interfacing to the back would strengthen it?

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    tattoogirlcjraabe

    Reply 3 months ago

    Thank you so much! My girlfriend was the one who wore the cuff, just for one night. It held up great. If it's for a doll, I don't think it would be necessary to back it with interfacing. It's pretty stiff, but it is very durable. I think the glue gives it it's durability. The paper I used was just basic cardstock. If you do make it, I would love to see it!! Will you post it on Instructables? I'll go follow you now.

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    ata1anta

    3 months ago

    Very cool! I've not seen the burned glue technique before either. I did hot glue sculpting to do metal detail on leather armor since I don't have the metal working skills. I'll have to play with this!

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    tattoogirlata1anta

    Reply 3 months ago

    Thanks! I'd love to see the hot glue sculpting. Sounds interesting.

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    quinstructable

    4 months ago

    Very cool. I haven't ever encountered this burned glue process before.

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    tattoogirlquinstructable

    Reply 4 months ago

    Thanks! It's a super old technique. I saw it on a craft show, gosh about 20 years ago. Back when HGTV had more crafts than home improvement.