Help me craft a leather anniversary gift!
July 1, 2013 10:50 AM   Subscribe

I make a gift for our wedding anniversary every year. This year I need to make something out of / involving leather, but the amount of work/resources needed to craft leather seems quite daunting. Any ideas or cool alternatives?

I like making stuff (although I'm generally not that good at it), and I think a hand-made gift is usually more meaningful than a store-bought one, so I decided to make my wife a gift every year. I'm using this list of traditional gifts on Wikipedia as a rough guide and inspiration for what to make. Paper was easy, cloth a bit more challenging but doable, but this year is leather, which looks a lot tougher! (excuse the pun)

Based on some Googling I've done it doesn't seem easy to work with leather, and it also requires specialized tools. One possibility is to find some workshop with the equipment, but I'm also not very confident of my ability to craft anything decent. Are there any leather objects that are really easy to make?

Another alternative I thought of was to buy some existing leather item, like say a rugged leather bag or pouch, and then emboss something on it. I'll need to create a custom die for it, but that's fine. What I'm not sure about though, is whether that's even possible, as most tutorials I've found about embossing use untreated leather, whereas what I'm embossing on will probably be a finished surface. If embossing doesn't work, are there any other ways of inscribing a graphic and text onto leather that will look good?

Of course, since I'm using the gift list as a rough guide, it doesn't really need to be a full leather item either; I'm open to other ideas, as long as it involves leather somehow!

I forsee posting another question in 3 years time when I reach iron... what have I gotten myself into?!
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
How about a braided leather bracelet? Here is one DIY I found, but you can google your way to many more. The same technique could make a braided leather belt.
posted by coraline at 10:55 AM on July 1, 2013

I was thinking along the same lines as coraline--lanyard weaving is a classic minimal-overhead craft project, and leather cording seems to be readily available. You could make a bracelet, a keychain, a nice strap for a camera, something like that.
posted by tchemgrrl at 11:02 AM on July 1, 2013

I went to Pinterest and searched DIY+craft+leather. I like the idea of this wire brand/embosser. I suspect treated leather could be embossed, and embossing a bag or wallet is a good gift. You could also buy a used leather belt (Goodwill) and cut it down to make a bracelet, and emboss it, or add metal findings. Happy Anniversary.
posted by theora55 at 11:03 AM on July 1, 2013

There are lots of leatherwork kits out there.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:48 AM on July 1, 2013

There are cheap leather pieces for sale at American Science & Surplus; I ordered this, thinking to make either key chains/tabs that I embossed with sayings or quotes (like these) or maybe a bag, or a folded leather basket/bowl. None of these are super-special but they could work as the wrapping for an additional present, possibly?

And on a second look, American Science & Surplus also has a woodburning pen set that also works on leather, and they sell bigger pieces of leather at what look to be really good prices too.
posted by lemniskate at 12:40 PM on July 1, 2013

Embossed leather photo album of your 3 years together? (like, with actual hard copy prints of photos)
posted by small_ruminant at 1:40 PM on July 1, 2013

Envelope-style leather smartphone case? That one looks easy to do -- the only special tool you need is an awl, to punch the holes to sew it together. Then you just stitch it by hand and glue one of the flaps in place. It's a pretty nice-looking case, too -- very sleek and minimalist.

Or if you want to get fancier, here's a tutorial for an embroidered leather smartphone case with a nice felt interior. Most of the skills and tools needed for that one are sewing-related -- sewing machine, embroidery hoop, that sort of thing.
posted by snowmentality at 6:58 PM on July 1, 2013

Tooling and embossing really only work with vegetable tanned leather, which most finished products are not going to be made of.

The amount of overhead is really pretty variable - tooling and embossing is kind of tool needy, but if you're just sewing something you can get by with a pretty simple tool set. For most leather work, I'd recommend you avoid a sewing machine (as most of them can't handle it) and go the overstitch wheel / awl route.

Feel free to MeFi mail me.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:36 PM on July 1, 2013

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