Making a leather desktop name plate allows me to bring together several different techniques I have learned over the years into play on a small yet practical project. Specifically…braiding, tooling and dyeing. For the desktop name plate I am going to use as an example, the first thing you will notice is that the name is made using a lettering tool. This has to be done because of cost restraints. Hand carving a name takes considerably more time than stamping the name.
You will also notice that I am braiding the three sides together versus hand sewing. Aside from the cost of the leather lace, the time involved is pretty close to the same for either braiding or hand sewing. The type of braid I will be doing is a simulated 8-string braid which can be found as plate 122 in the Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding. If you don’t have a copy of the this must have book, you can always get one here.
On the backside of of the name plate I will be braiding three stars encircled by a stairstep braid. These two techniques can be found as plates 183 and plate 195 in the Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding. Check down further in this article and you will find a video of the star braiding technique.
The dye I am using is the eco friendly tan gel available from Tandy Leather Factory. There is one step that most leather crafters don’t use when dyeing their projects that I do. After dyeing the leather I allow it a full 24 hours to completely dry. I come back and saturate the leather with water (this particular dye is a water base dye) and remove excess dye a second time. This will remove artificial color that is sitting on top of the leather and if I did a good job dyeing it the first time, those deep embedded colors are exposed.
Step 1…cut your three pieces of leather by “oversizing” what you think the finished size will be and tool/carve your leather as you see fit. In my example presented in this posting I used the following tools when tooling: Al Stohlman swivel knife, D485, 8139-00, G9009-03, E9006-07, and C940. These tools are all available from Tandy Leather Factory. I also choose to use “graphic” rulers versus traditional rulers. You can find these rulers at Texas Art Supply. The reason I do this is simply because I first do my tooling/carving of the name, then carve the rectangle and borders around it. The size is what the size is at that point. The three pictures below show the three pieces I will be assembling shortly. The pictures show the front, back and bottom after the first dyeing technique and they are dull in appearance at this point. This is to be expected. The finished leather desktop name plate will be 1 7/8″ X 10 1/4″.
Step 2…I decided to set this step aside for its own section because 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 disignated area, how to braid the star and how to accent the star by performing a stairstep braid around the star. In the preceeding photograph we have already drawn the star, plotted the coordinates and punched the holes. If you want to know how I sized and drew the perfect 5-point star, then please read this accompanying article. These holes are going to be used for the 5 points of the star and for the stairstep braiding and must be exactly spaced. We will be using braiding techniques discussed in the Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding as plates 183 and 195. If you don’t have this book and you want to learn how to braid, you can always get one here.
Step 3…Now that all three panels are completed the only remaing task is attach them to each other. Your choices are two…(1) hand sew or (2) braid. I choose to braid. Why you ask? Because most people don’t and I think it adds a touch authenticity. For this project I used plate 122 from the Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather braiding.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.