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Posts Tagged ‘leather working’

Recently I made a King’s Landing Handmaiden dress from the ever popular series Game of Thrones. To complete the look, I needed a leather hand-painted belt. This is my step-by step process on how to construct said leather belt. You will need copy paper, a pencil, 3-5oz veg tan leather, leather scissors or a sharp box cutter knife. A leather punch with multiple sizes, a mallet, leather rivets and a leather rivet-setter tool, grommets, a grommet setter, some cord, liquid acrylic paints, and acrylic varnish. Optional leather tooling stamps.

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Start by drafting a pattern with a piece of paper. You can customize the size and shape to accommodate your own measurements. This section represents HALF of the belt. One half, on me, was roughly 10 inches long and 3 inches tall. I recommend experimenting and holding it up to your waist to see what looks good on you. If you have a long torso like me, try a tall belt. If you have a short torso, a short belt may look best.

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Trace the two halves of your belt onto 3-5oz vegetable tanned leather. Cut out using leather scissors or a box-cutter knife. I find that Scissors are way easier to get a clean cut with. You must take extra care with a knife to keep your edges clean.IMG_1129.JPG

To connect the two halves in the middle, cut some connection pieces for the same leather. I chose to connect the two halves with two thin rectangular strips of leather, but you may choose to use one thicker strip.  Line all the pieces up and mark where to punch holes for your hardware. The smaller holes on the wide side of the belt are for rivets that will join the two halves together. You should punch a hole just big enough to slide a rivet through, and no larger! The larger holes on the thinner end of the belt are for grommets which you will use to lace up the belt when it is complete.

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At this stage you may add any decorative tooling. I’ve done a simple stippling stitch pattern, which I only loosely followed while painting. It adds an extra level of texture and intrigue to the belt but it is not an essential step.

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Time for hardware! Rivet the belt together and insert and secure grommets. You will need a rivet setter and a grommet setter. You can’t make it look pretty with make-shift tools.

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Begin painting and embellishing! I recommend painting before applying any studs or embellishments. I paint my leather with liquid all purpose acrylics, and seal with an acrylic varnish. They come in a range of finishes; I prefer glossy for most projects. The paint that I mixed for the center of the belt had a little shimmer to it, which I think looks nice on a feminine character, but some costumes do not want to look shimmery.

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Hand-painted details will make your belt really stand-out. Here I did a base coat (or two) of pink over the most of the belt and let it dry completely overnight before painting on the flowers. You can draw lightly over dry acrylics with a pencil to plan out your design. Then paint right over the pencil. When the design is completely dry, use a kneaded eraser to lift up any pencil that is still visible. It should come off pretty easily–don’t scrub too hard. Once all the pencil is gone you can varnish the whole belt.
IMG_1189.JPGHere is the belt with the completed handmaiden dress. It really pulls the look together, right?

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This weekend was awesome. Besides a wonderful annual caricature gig on Saturday afternoon (I love being paid to draw children), my best friend Kelley came up to my studio in Lowell for the weekend to have a super craft marathon. In a day and a half we got a solid 10 hours of work time in, as well as 3  hours of brainstorming, art-absorbing, and inspiration gathering. The rest of our free time was either spent sleeping eating or shopping. But shopping is also a part of the process I assure you. What better way to scout retailing techniques, research the latest fashion trends, and build your personal brand than by shopping? I think every artist can relate to me when I say that  shopping–not even purchasing but the act of browsing–is an important part of the 24 hour creative process.

Anyway, During our time in the studio, Kelley was hard at work on her beading projects, totally absorbed in that one task despite the fact that she lugged an entire shoulder of leather up to the studio in order to get started on some bags and masks. She finally took the last hour or so of work time to pattern and trace on her leather just to get started. But in the mean time, she got a lot of beading work done! Above is a shot of one of her intricate beaded necklaces. Ever talented and creative, Kelley even made me a headdress in order to practice the design in preparation to make a whole line of beaded headdresses, and it is absolutely stunning! I have to take some better pictures, but you should be excited for the dripping beaded magic that will be coming off of my head in the near future.

I on the other hand spend the entire weekend working on using up the last of my quarter hide making masks, braces, and hair accessories. In the photo above, I am sporting one of my favorite new mask styles which I found to be especially flattering. As frequent readers will know, I just patterned about 10 more styles of masks for men, women, and children. The masks range from thick to thin, pointy to soft, with a range of eye hole sizes and nose shapes so that my brand will accommodate a wide range of face shapes. Your nose does not have to settle for some “standard” mask shape. I offer variety. Anyhow, I think the standard black mask was a good place to start with the new mask patterns. Classic, versatile, sexy black masks; can’t go wrong there.

Here’s a picture of black masks, freshly painted, all lined up and ready for varnish. I tend to make small items in batches in order to work more efficiently, and thus save you and me money. So what’s next? Well, these crafting weekends will hopefully be a common occurrence in 2013 as we sign up for more and more conventions at which to sell our goods. Our first “test convention” will be Queen City Kamikaze Con at the Manchester New Hampshire High School on February 16th. It will be a minuscule convention, which is why I consider it a test, but it will be a chance to practice hauling our merch and display stuff around, setting up quickly, and give us an indication of what items sell to which demographic. We want to focus our time on making things that people actually want. So on that note, if any of you readers have any requests for cool leather accessories, armor, or jewelry, leave us a comment below and we will certainly take a shot at adding your request to our line.

In the mean time, you can see what we already offer at the Etsy store. Soon to be retitled, re-styled, and restocked, that is where we will be selling our products to the online and international community. However some items may sell at conventions or fairs before we have a chance to list them online. So if you are looking for something specific, shoot us a message and we can let you know if there’s anything in our inventory that meets your needs. We will try to list as much as we can online, but listings take time and some things are sure to be missed. Hope you understand.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

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