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Using the right amount of moisture is important when stamping. The ideal amount of moisture will allow for deep impressions and create a rich color. If you are not getting crisp impressions or getting the correct color, it may be because the leather is too dry or too wet.
Getting the flower centers defined is a good place to get a flower design started. To get good, even stamping with design stamps such as flower centers, slightly rock the tool in a circular motion to ensure every part of the stamp has made a deep impression.
A center shader can be used to bevel around the seeds to give the appearance that the seeds are standing out. To do this, angle the tool slightly so that the impression fades out from the center.
The camouflage tool is a crescent shaped tool with a series of lines on it, somewhat resembling an eyelash. This versatile stamping tool can be used independently to create borders or patterns, however it also is used to achieve several different textures in floral carving.
When only a portion of a flower center is showing, a camouflage tool can be used similarly to a beveller to outline flower centers where the seeder will later be used. It is also often used in defining the curve of a design, such as a scroll.
The camouflage tool can be used in a series impression to create texture on leaves. To achieve this, lean the tool back and towards you to get just the corner of the tool making an impression right on the cut line. This will allow the design to fade out and disappear, providing a wavy and ribbed texture.
It can also be used to create a light texture on flower petals. For this, start out near the flower center, space the impressions evenly and gradually get lighter as you move away from the flower center.
Join us next week as we continue to tool the wallet back and learn about more stamping tools along the way!
Using Jeweler’s Rouge to buff and polish your swivel knife is important. The different agents used to tan leather can get stuck on the knife blade when cutting, so stropping your blade can help remove anything might be sticking to it and causing it to drag. Make sure to maintain the correct angle of the blade when stropping as you can remove the cutting edge from your knife if you roll the knife end when sharpening.
The proper grip for the swivel knife is to place the forefinger in to the yolk up to the first knuckle, with the thumb resting on one side of the barrel and the middle figure just opposite of that.
Always make your cuts by drawing the knife towards you.
For nice clean incisions when making curving cuts, move the barrel of the swivel knife with your fingers rather than moving your whole hand.
Tapering out the cut is important. Cut roughly one third to one half the thickness of the leather, however as you cut down the length of the design, feather it out lightly by lifting the blade to fade out the cut.
When cutting to intersecting lines, stop just short of touching the other cut. If you cut past the line, you can leave a blemish in the design.
When cutting a spiral design, such as a scroll seen in floral patterns, move your project so that you are always pulling the swivel knife toward you.
Maintain good moisture content. If you are getting nice, clean cuts and good depth without struggling to get your tool to cut correctly, moisture is likely correct. If cuts are not opening up, your leather could be drying out.
When pulling towards you, learn to look in at your swivel knife at an angle to ensure that the blade is cutting perpendicular to the lather. If you lean the knife to the side to see what you are doing, you can undercut the leather which can distort your design.
Leatherwork shouldn’t be something you do as fast as you can, but rather something you can do as carefully as you can.
The trick to swivel knife finesse is practice, practice, practice.
Join us next week as we move on to the next step of the project, stamping in the design!
Near the beginning of July, we asked our social media followers what kind of advice the would request from award-winning leatherworker Jim Linnell. With over 100 responses, Jim selected some specific questions to answer while offering some of his best technique advice to get the best results from your leatherwork! Join us in this weekly series on carving a wallet back with tips and tricks from Jim Linnell!
Tracing your pattern on to tracing film is one of the first places that you will want to be patient and pay attention to detail. Having a nice, cleanly traced design helps your finished project to be as accurate as possible.
Taping down your tracing film to the pattern will help you realign the two when checking to make sure that all of the lights have been traced. Using a ruler on straight lines will help you keep your pattern centered when transferring it to the leather.
Gluing your leather to a piece of cardboard or matboard helps prevent the leather from stretching as you tool it, as well as allowing more depth in tooling with thinner leathers. It is important to use rubber cement rather than contact cement or other adhesives as rubber cement offers a temporary bond that allows for the backing to be removed when you are done tooling.
Moisture content is important to get clean impressions and the right burnish in your tooling. Start by saturating the leather fairly thoroughly in your initial wetting, penetrating at least half of the way through the leather, and then allow the leather to begin to return to its natural color before tooling.
Taping the back of your project to your work surface before tracing ensures that the leather does not move during the tracing step.
Using a stylus is the ideal way to trace patterns in to your leather. Press lightly and retrace the pattern on to your leather to create a shallow imprint that can later be used for carving. Be deliberate and careful, making sure to follow the lines as closely as possible for a clean pattern on your leather to begin with.
Using a pen, pencil, or other utensil to trace the pattern may puncture the tracing film and leave a permanent mark on your leather. Using the right tools is important.
When tracing the flower centers, use a dotted line rather than a solid line. This will allow for cleaner seeding in later steps.
Wing dividers work great to trace straight, consistent lines for the borders of your project.
Join us next week as we move on to the next step of the project, swivel knife cutting!