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leather shapes leather shapes

KINGSMERE CRAFTS

HAND-CRAFTED LEATHER GOODS

Edges

Hand-crafted, and decorative leatherwork. How is it done? - continued

More than anything else edges are what gets noticed. If you can get the edges right you are going in the right direction to be able to call yourself a craftsman, otherwise, forget it, you're a bodger. But once you've mastered the art of getting good edges, you've cracked it. That's what makes the difference, between the article you've made wearing well and lasting for years, or looking scruffy and falling apart within a very short time, and your customer never coming back.

A well-finished vegetable-tanned hide edge is one that has been bevelled, back as well as front, dyed (or stained using a permanent marker pen) and burnished. The burnishing can be done with a burnishing tool, which looks like a small wheel about 3" in diameter, these days usually made of plastic though there are wooden ones, and which is run back and forth along the dampened edge of the leather. You can use a flat stick-like one, also plastic or bone, but that wouldn't be my choice except on those occasions when part of an edge is inaccessible otherwise.

edge slicker

burnishing wheel

Wheel-like burnishing tool

Flat burnishing tool

Alternatively it can be done if the edge is dampened using gum tragacanth (this is obtained from any of the plants in the spiny leguminous genus Astragalus, especially A. gummifer of Asia, having clusters of white, yellow, or purple flowers, and yielding a substance that is made into a gum; you don't have to worry though, you can buy it in lots of craft's- or artist's-supplies shops!) instead of dye or water, and before it can completely soak in, is rubbed vigorously with a folded up piece of denim. This is what compresses the cut fibres and gives the edge a hard and glossy finish. You can also run beeswax along the edge before rubbing with the tool or the denim, but my own preference is not to do so.

Finishing your edges in this manner is particularly recommended when you are making vegetable-tanned hide belts. It must be done before punching any of the holes or attaching the buckle or keeper. It will take quite some time to do it properly, but the look and appearance of the finished article makes all the effort more than worth it, not to mention the longer life the belt will have as a result.

None of this applies to thin or loose textured edges, to do so would achieve the complete opposite of your intentions, namely, to have perfectly finished edges on whatever it is you are making.

In reference to what I was saying in the previous paragraph, the best method in this event is to lay the object on a flat, hard surface, and polish firmly along the edge keeping it pressed on to the hard surface.

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Stair-step braid around a star

How to Size and Draw a Star

1. Use a compass to draw a circle the size you want your star to be. 2. Draw a second, smaller circle inside the first, using the same centre point. Make the second circle about half the size of the first.

3. Draw a line from the edge of the outer circle to the centre point using a ruler. 4. Place a protractor on the line, with the centre hole of the protractor over the centrepoint of the circle.

5. Measure and mark every 72 degrees around the circle (72, 144, 216, 288, 360), dividingthe circle into five even sections. 6. Line the ruler up with the centre point of the circle and one of the marks you just made.

7. Draw a line from the edge of the outer circle, through the centre point, ending at the edge of the inner circle. 8. Continue drawing lines as described until you have drawn the five lines, which evenly divide the circle.

9. Connect the top of one of the lines that touches the outer circle to the lines that touch the inner circle on both sides, forming a point. 10. Continue to connect the lines around the circle until you have made a five-point star.

start of stair-step braiding after stair-step braiding

Once you master this technique, you will find yourself using it for many applications. Basically you are going to learn how to draw the perfect 5-point star to fit the designated area, how to braid the star and how to accent the star by performing a stair-step braid around the star. In the preceding image the star is already drawn the coordinates plotted and the holes punched. If you want to know how to size and draw the perfect 5-point star, then please read the accompanying paragraph. These holes are going to be used for the 5 points of the star and for the stair-step braiding and must be exactly spaced. Using braiding techniques discussed in the Encyclopaedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding as plates 183 and 195.  

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