Expanding on the butterfly map projection I laser cut on plywood, I wanted to try a new media. Leather is a great material to laser cut because it is malleable but doesn't fray.
I added sewing holes to the file I had created previously, and put it all together with some synthetic nylon cord.
You can download the file here, and try it out for yourself.
Step 1: Laser Cut the Leather
Leather is great because it doesn't fray, so you can cut out all kinds of shapes. I know some people aren't comfortable using animal products, but please don't substitute PVC pleather for leather in a laser cutter - it is toxic!
I ran this file out of illustrator and cut it on an epilogue laser cutter. Whatever machine you use, the controls will be a little bit different. You need a fairly high powered laser cutter to cut through leather, and you will need to try different settings with every kind of hide.
Step 2: Paint and Seal the Leather
I used a non-toxic leather dye and a small paintbrush to colour in the water and land. Without being too precious, I followed along the shorelines and tried to create a watercolour effect. Remember to test your colour and technique on a scrap of leather that matches your piece.
I sealed the dye with a non-toxic sealant that leaves a matte finish. Buff the finish with a soft cloth.
Step 3: Sew the Globe
I used a synthetic nylon cord with two needles sewing in an X pattern. I sewed one X on top, and then one X on the bottom, but if I were to do this again I would come back a second time and stitch on the top and the bottom.
It's pretty tricky to pull the material tightly enough to have the seam flush and strong - I sewing in really short portions of the seam so I could include more knots. Experiments!
I couldn't find any stuffing, so I stuffed this with fabric scraps. The final output is admittedly pretty lumpy. It has been called endearingly lumpy.