Tooling leather tips

Should I turn my hobby into a full time business and quit my job?

One of the most common questions that I get asked from younger craftsmen is, “When should I turn my hobby into a full time business and quit my job?”

This is a question that I do not feel qualified to answer.  Outside of college, I have never had a job.

This usually gets a chuckle in response… but it is the truth.

After I graduated from college I began doing contract work for the man I did my apprenticeship with.

I use the word apprenticeship without a complete understanding as to what a true “apprenticeship” might look like to others in the craft. But more on that in the future.

After some time he offered to sell me the shop and I began my dance with banks to make it happen.

Fifteen years later, years of trial and error, and piles of debt taken and paid off, here we set.

So when someone asks me if they should walk away from a secure career?  Walk away from a steady paycheck?  Maybe even walk away from health insurance, dental, not to mention their own parking spot… I say maybe not.

I once heard an ole boy say, closing his business and getting a job was like “coming in out of the cold.” Continue reading

Learn How to Tool Floral Leather Tooling Patterns

You bought a mess of leather stamping tools for tooling leather tooling patterns.

What do all these tools for stamping leather do and where to use them?

This is a common challenge for us when we start tooling leather.  We gather all the tools, a good mallet and some floral tooling patterns.  Yet we are unclear of what some of tools are for or how to use them.

Other areas that I struggled with early on was the proper order to use the tools in.  I found myself rambling through the patterns in a completely random fashion.  This led to long tooling sessions that left me feeling a bit lost and confused.

If you are new to tooling leather tooling patterns, then you are going to find great value in this!  Here you will find a 4 part video series that we created for our YouTube Channel.  The series is called “How to Tool Floral Leather Tooling Patterns.”

Each video covers a certain number of stamping tools in the order that I use them in my work everyday.  You will see how I use each tool for this particular tooling pattern.  The use of many of these tools takes practice and sometimes requires a little trick to use and we go through this in the videos.

So let’s just jump right in and get started! Continue reading

How to Tool Leather Tooling Patterns – Video #1

In this video series, we will show you the complete tooling of floral leather tooling patterns.  The goal of these videos is to show you my complete tooling process when stamping leather tooling patterns.

This video covers the following tools and the order that I use them in:

-push beveler

-flower centers

-flower center liner

-undercuts (4 different tool sizes- small to large)

-crowners (2 different tool sizes)

There is a FREE PDF for this pattern that you are welcome to download using this link, just enter your email address to confirm access to download a copy to use so that you can follow along with us! Continue reading

Drawing Vinework in Leather Tooling Patterns

Introduction into February Tooling Floral Theme

For the entire month of February, I want to focus on floral design and tooling.  Everything from drawing leather tooling patterns, carving them, and tooling them.  I want to spend the time using our different platforms to help you improve your tooling and design.

So whether you are a seasoned leatherhead or a rookie, be ready to follow us into this deep subject.  We will not have enough time in one month to cover it all.  We won’t even have enough time to cover a quarter of the subject.  But I hope to shed a little light on the subject and hope that you will find value in it.

Tooling isn’t something that you can just read one book about, watch one youtube video, or spend one weekend in a workshop and become a master at.  Learning to draw leather tooling patterns and to tool them, takes practice and commitment to the idea that you will become a true life long student of the subject. Continue reading

How to make a Leather Moleskin Journal Cover

In this video, I show you how to make a leather Moleskin Journal Cover.  I am a HUGE fan of journals and notebooks… to the point that I probably have way too many in the shop.  I have to write everything down or I won’t remember it.

My favorite journals are made by Moleskin.  These journals come in many different sizes as well as types of paper.  This project video shows you how to make a leather cover for my favorite Moleskin notebook.  The exact name the one from Moleskin that I use is “Moleskine Classic Soft Cover Notebook” and the size is 5″ x 8.25″.  You can get this notebook from amazon by using my affiliate link by clicking here.

These notebook covers are a lot of fun to make and don’t take as much time as other projects.  They also make great gift ideas or products to offer to your customers.

In the video I mentioned our video on slicking edges on leather.  If you missed that video, be sure and check out our video on Slicking Edges. Continue reading

How to Make a Clutch Wallet

In this video I show you how to make a clutch wallet.  These wallets are a great item for rookie leather craftsmen as well as the experienced.  There are many variations that can be made from this simple design.

I walk you through my entire process of creating one of these popular wallets.

These are great gift ideas for the woman in your life or to offer to your customers who are wanting to give that special everyday carry gift.

Continue reading

How To Make a Wristlet Purse

Our newest video on our YouTube channel shows you How To Make a Wristlet Purse.  I have had many questions about some good projects for using up the piles of scrap leather that we all generate in our shops.  Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional saddle maker, you probably have leather pieces in a box under a workbench that you saved for that special project.

Well, here is that special project!  I am the farthest thing from a professional bag/purse maker, but in this video I show you a simple wristlet purse that I designed that I believe is fairly simple to assemble and has a lot of potential.  I have found that when it comes to making purses, options and coordinating different colors, leathers, exotics, fringe, conchos, etc is key for them to sell well. Continue reading

Drawing Flowers and Leaves

Drawing flowers and leaves can be challenging at times.  There are so many different variations that can be adapted and designed to fit the particular look that you are looking for within a pattern.  It is very easy to get in the habit of using the same flower and leaf combination in all of your designs, especially if they work well and you can draw them quickly.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with using only a few different combinations of these elements in the majority of your designs and this usually will lead an artist to develop his particular style.  The thing that I want to challenge you to do is to work on at least stretching your skill set in designing some new ones from time to time.

In this article I will show you my process for brainstorming new designs and how I use the process within my pattern layouts.  Designing a new flower and leaf combination can lead you to discover a completely new style within your work.  This is also a great way to rediscover some of those older ideas you had and make them work a little better now.

Continue reading

Leather Floral Designs and Flow

If you have been involved in leather tooling for any length of time, you hear people talk about “Flow.”  Many of us understand the premise behind the flow of leather floral designs, and many times we think we know what that means.  But for some of us, we simply do not truly understand the concept of flow.

This article is a summary of the concept of “Flow”  from our eBook “Introduction to Leather Floral Design” that I wrote in 2017.

Defining Flow

For me “Flow” has always meant simply that whatever I draw within a pattern it should have the sense of movement and seem to be going somewhere and coming from some place. 

This seems simple enough right?

When we are laying out a pattern within the boundaries of the item or the tooling window, we have to take into consideration first where we are going and second where we are coming from.  These are the first two questions that I ask myself when I begin my layout.

Once we have a piece laid out in front of us and have determined the answers to these two questions, now we can determine the steps that we have to take to maintain the flow of the pattern.  The flow of leather floral designs is not something that can be miscalculated because you chose the wrong direction.  In floral layout, left to right or right to left is independent of flow.  This means that we can have flow within the pattern no matter if one direction looks better than the other.

The flow of a pattern is set by deciding on a direction and taking the viewer on that journey without interruptions.  Once the direction is decided, then the pattern layout is now bound by those directional choices as we begin layout.  Decisions must be made according to the direction we have chosen.

I see flow as my ability, as the viewer, to hop onto any point within a pattern with my eye and follow the pattern all the way through the piece.  If I hit a spot within the pattern that dead ends and I am left with no place to go, then the flow has ended.  There are times when this is appropriate but for now let’s just agree that we would rather not see this.

Continue reading