Hey all, it’s been a while.
I’ve been a bit caught up with other parts of my life, so leather craft has taken a backseat for a while. I’ll be back in a bit though.
Let’s talk about leather craft, and how you can get started. I first got into the hobby when I foolishly concluded that it was easy, and that ‘anyone could make that, duh’. And, to a certain extent, that statement still holds true. Anyone can make an item out of leather, but how beautiful or well-made it is, that’s a deep deep chasm that divides the err men from the err boys.
Anyhow, if you want to get started, here’s what you can do.
Watch YouTube is a godsend. As with most crafts, the art of hand-working leather boils down to technique, and techniques seldom translate well into the printed word. “The needle pierces the leather and should overlap the other side. Then thread the other needle through the same hole. Repeat” You could read that a hundred times or just watch these.
Read Videos give you a great start to how things ‘should’ be done, but peering closely at a printed page helps to cement the concepts in your head. I bought this soon after I started, and would highly recommend it. Nicely detailed, and it contains projects that you can take on as well. I’ve heard that our National Library has good books for beginners as well, so you could pay them a visit.
Discuss Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions. I’m no expert, but I’ve probably made far more mistakes than you have, and I’ll help where I can.
Then you’ll need tools. I’m located in Singapore, where leather craft shares the same heights of popularity as banjo playing. It was, and still is, a huge challenge to find good quality tools locally, which is why I’ve given up and ordered most of my stuff online. I’ve worked with GoodsJapan before, and Simon is a great guy to purchase from and the quality of his stuff is great. Tandy is yet another well known supplier, and I’ve bought a lot of hardware (buckles, snaps, rivets etc) from them as well.
For a start, I’d recommend the following set of tools:
- Pricking irons – You’ll need at least one or two. Start with the 4-prong 1.5mm and 2.5mm irons, these two will give you a fairly flexible range for a start.
- Mallet – Rawhide or wood, either would be fine. What you don’t want is to just use a metal hammer on your irons because the ends of the iron will deform and you will have a sadface.
- Cutting mat – Easy enough to purchase locally. I’d recommend getting one that is at least A3 in size.
- Punches – I’ve had luck finding punches at the local Daiso so you may want to check those out. A very viable alternative would be a Rotary Punch, commonly used to put in extra holes in your belt after a hard festive season.
- A good knife – When I first started, I purchased a X-Acto knife from a crafts shop and was perfectly happy with it. That would work fine until you decide that it’s time to invest a little more money in the craft.
- Leather needles – Leather needles are NOT sewing needles. They are larger, and while pointy, they aren’t sharp. You can get away with using larger sewing needles, but trust me, you’ll be online looking for proper needles after the first 20 pricks to your fingers.
And that’s about it. A basic tool set like the above would run you about $100-$120. Not exactly cheap, but with a set like this, you’ll be able to make almost any type of small leather goods. There are of course a whole ton of specialist tools that you would very rarely need, but would thank your stars for when you do need those. Get those later.
Go give it a go. You’d be surprised at how horrendous your first piece is going to turn out, but with enough good humour and patience, everyone can discover surprising amounts of genius within your fingertips.
I’m planning to put together a leather craft workshop, so if you’re interested in attending, do register your interest in the comments below. I’ll get in touch with you once details are ironed out.