Stamp Embossed Leather

posted Apr 30, 2016, 10:14 PM by Amie Ridley   [ updated Apr 30, 2016, 10:20 PM ]
This is yet another one of those ideas that come in the middle of the night.  I had made some simple triangular leather and eyelet earrings during a leather workshop last week, but they lacked... something.  And as I was trying to go to sleep, my ever energetic brain ws ondering the possibility of using stamp embossing to add a texture/colour to the earrings.  

So the next morning I got up and tried it, and it worked.  Yay!  

And I liked it so much that I did another project - with photos!  So that I can now type out this handy tutorial with pictures.  

So materials you will need to make a leather cuff: 
(this picture also shows a bit of our chaotic dining room table, which has to be cleared in order to make way for, you know, food and eating... yeah)

strip of leather cut to the size you need (around your wrist plus 2cm for snap fastening)
stamp of your choice
slow drying ink for stamp
embossing powder
piece of plain paper, folded in half, creased, and opened (this is to catch the embossing powder and put it back in it's jar!)
small paint brush
heat gun, or toaster in a pinch
protective surface (a baking tray should suffice)
oven mitts
snap fasteners (I used the Birch Decorative Snap Fasteners)
rubber mallet (you can use a hammer if need be)
protective mat or surface for hitting in fasteners

If you have never used stamp embossing before here's a little bit about it:
Embossing powder is a super fine powder that melts when heated into a metallic solid.  It is commonly used to decorate cards or other paper crafts, and is generally applied over a stamped ink.  The ink is specified as slow drying so that there is time to adhere the powder to the stamped surface.  Both embossing powders and slow drying inks are generally available from craft stores or specialist stamping stores.

So onto the cuff...
Set out the folded paper and place the leather strip on top, skin side up.  set out your ink pad, embossing powder and stamp.  You have to move fairly quickly so I find it easier to have the lid off the embossing powder ready to pour it over the stamped ink. 

Thoroughly ink your stamp and press it evenly onto the leather.  I apologise for the lack of photos at this point but as I say, moving quickly and all...  Then remove the stamp, place it aside and pour out embossing powder over the stamped area.

It is completely okay that it now looks like you have just dump trucked the powder all over the stamped area!  You are now going to gently pour it off onto the paper (see that paper, very important to save all that embossing powder for next time...)

Gently lift up the leather strip and tip off the excess powder onto the paper.  No mater how many times I do this, I am always a little bit scared that the powder is not going to adhere.  But is does, so it's fine.  

You will also probably find that there are a few grains that adhere around the project.  You can gently tap it to remove most of these, and I also find that having a small paint brush to gently remove these bits helps as well.

Once you have removed the unwanted grains of powder, carefully set the strip aside.  Now gently pick up the paper, form it into a V and pour the embossing powder back into it's container.  Ready for next time.  

I love this stuff!  You can stamp and apply it to quite a lot of things - I have labelled my pin board with days of the week (so I don't forget what we are doing!).  It makes really cool cards and gift tags.  I am currently sitting here wondering if I soulc in some way apply it to future crochet projects...  I will let you know how that turns out...

Anyway, onward...

You will now need your heat source.  Due to my love of embossing I have a heat gun.  There are specialist embossing heat guns you can buy from craft shops.  I bought mine from the hardware store - that way if we ever have to remove wallpaper we can do that too.  Hasn't happened yet, but you never know...
If you do not have a heat gun (and don't wish to purchase one, even for theoretical DIY projects) you can also gingerly hold your project over a toaster.  I have done this with cards in the past,and it works fine.  You just have to keep moving the project to get evenly applied heat.  

So, gently apply the heat over the embossing powder.  I find that the heat gun tend to blow the leather strip so I put on a trusty oven glove to hold onto the strip and prevent burnination of my fingers.

Also it is a good idea to put a protective surface down under the leather strip.  I have a fire brick here (because we have stuff like this) but a baking tray will be perfectly acceptable to protect your table, bench, or other impromptu work space.

Once you have applied heat for a little bit, the powder should start to melt and look like this:

Keep applying heat until all the powder has melted and is metallic looking.  Ooooooo -SHINY!

This is the end of the embossing stage of the project.  Stand back and admire your work so far, and then prepare to hit things with a mallet...

So we are now going to apply the snap fastener to the leather strip, turning it from a strip into a cuff in one frustration relieving stage.

The fasteners come in 4 parts - there is a pronged decorative stud top, the receiver, a pronged base, and the bobbled bit that presses into the receiver.  For a more technical description of these parts, please refer to the packaging they come in.  

There will also be a pressing tool that is used to seat the studs.  It pays to use a rubber mallet as a hammer distorts the end of the pressing tool, but a hammer can be used if necessary.  

Set yourself up with your stud pieces, mallet, and protective mat/surface.  I find it easiest to set the decorative top and receiver first, then the  stud end, but you might well work differently to me.  The idea of these is to push the prongs through the leather.  You can use the narrow end of the setting tool to compress the leather into the stud.  It takes a bit of work but once the prongs are through you are ready to attach the receiver.  This is done by placing it over the prongs, putting the setting tool on top, and then hitting the setting tool with your mallet - I find 20 or so times to be adequate and therapeutic.

Once you have set the receiver it is the same process for the stud end.  Do double check that you are setting it the correct way up (trust me on this, it is an annoying and almost unreversable mistake).  If it does happen you have just made yourself a very fancy mobius band to demonstrate this fascinating mathematical concept.

There are better and more detailed descriptions of the setting process on the packaging of the studs.

Once you have attached the snap fastener you have completed your cuff.  Now go put away your crafting bits and pieces so your dining table doesn't end up like mine!

Wear and enjoy :-)