Leather Desktop Name Plate in 3 Steps

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″.

Front

Bottom

Back

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.

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3 Steps of 3 Loop Spanish Braid Video

When I first posted this article I advised my readers that I would soon be releasing a video showing this technique. You will find that leather brading video below.

The Spanish 3 loop edge braid is not only a beautiful finish to the edge of your leather project but it is also a perfect way to protect the edge from damage. This braid can be found as plate 118 in the Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding. The name of this braid describes what you will learn…make 3 loops, braid, make 3 loops, braid.

Think of it this way, each of the first 3 steps is going to create a loop over the edge of your leather. Then you will be passing the working end of your thong under the 3 loops, this leaves 2 loops over your leather with nothing under them. When you go through the next available slit or hole, you have now created 3 loops which you will then pass under.

The length of the thong for this braid is approximately 7 1/2 times the length of your project.

Step 1. Loop 1…Pass the working end through hole number 2 from front to rear. Hold the loose end over the edge of your leather between holes 1 and 2. You now have the first loop.

Step 2. Loop 2…Pass the working end from front to back of hole number 1. You now have loop number 2.

Step 3. Loop 3…Bring the working end over the edge of leather, go through hole number 3 from front to back. You have now made your 3 loops, thus the name of this braid.

Step 4. Pass the working end under the 3 loops, on top of your edge between the edge and the three loops above the gap between holes 1 and 2. You now are left with 2 loops over the edge of your leather.

Step 5. Bring the working end to the front, go through hole number 4 from front to back (you have now created the third loop) then between the edge and the three loops above the gap between holes 2 and 3.

Now continue braiding in this fashion by repeating step 5 until completed.

When you have gone through the last available slit/hole and under the three loops, go under the last two braids on the backside. Trim off the excess here and where the loose end is still exposed at the beginning.

Final step, lightly tap the edges so they lay down and relax.

3 Steps of 3 Loop Spanish Braid

The Spanish 3 loop edge braid is not only a beautiful finish to the edge of your leather project but it is also a perfect way to protect the edge from damage. This braid can be found as plate 118 in the Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding. The name of this braid describes what you will learn…make 3 loops, braid, make 3 loops, braid.

Think of it this way, each of the first 3 steps is going to create a loop over the edge of your leather. Then you will be passing the working end of your thong under the 3 loops, this leaves 2 loops over your leather with nothing under them. When you go through the next available slit or hole, you have now created 3 loops which you will then pass under. I will soon be releasing a video showing this procedure in depth so if you want to see it when it is released be sure and register for our email notifications.

The length of the thong for this braid is approximately 7 1/2 times the length of your project.

Step 1. Loop 1…Pass the working end through hole number 2 from front to rear. Hold the loose end over the edge of your leather between holes 1 and 2. You now have the first loop.

Step 2. Loop 2…Pass the working end from front to back of hole number 1. You now have loop number 2.

Step 3. Loop 3…Bring the working end over the edge of leather, go through hole number 3 from front to back. You have now made your 3 loops, thus the name of this braid.

Step 4. Pass the working end under the 3 loops, on top of your edge between the edge and the three loops above the gap between holes 1 and 2. You now are left with 2 loops over the edge of your leather.

Step 5. Bring the working end to the front, go through hole number 4 from front to back (you have now created the third loop) then between the edge and the three loops above the gap between holes 2 and 3.

Now continue braiding in this fashion by repeating step 5 until completed.

When you have gone through the last available slit/hole and under the three loops, go under the last two braids on the backside. Trim off the excess here and where the loose end is still exposed at the beginning.

Final step, lightly tap the edges so they lay down and relax.

Water Jar, Design Considerations

Not too long ago I asked one of our programmers how it is they decided to layout a particular window in our software and his answer was “intense research”. Intense research? Shouldn’t all research be intense to the point of riveting headaches and pointless hours of whirlwind discussions ending in obscurity.

This form of research, fortunately, is not what I go through when designing a new leather craft project I am interested in.

I may do some basic research on the internet looking for (in the case of my most recent design) a shape worthy of the cost and time necessary to see to fruition. So what I did was start with a photo of an Egyptian water jar (below).

So beginning with the above shape how do I proceed. First I decided that this shape lends itself to height and I my case I decided I wanted my end project to be somewhere around 16 to 18 inches in height and about 6 inches in width at the widest point.

This shape also lends itself very well to its use as a flower vase and the bud vases I have will be totally hidden and held in place by the natural design of the vase’s neck

After addressing the difficulty of this design and the way the widest section necks down and how to affect an effective and eye pleasing braid I determined that the common stairstep braid was still the best approach and I hope you agree. If you are attempting to copy this design or one similar, do not under any circumstance try to glue the edges. You may think that gluing must be done and I am here to tell you that is not the case. For one reason, you will never be able to line up all the holes for braiding not to mention if you apply glue to one edge and then accidentally “miss” when trying to line up the edges, there is a real good chance you will ruin an already time consuming section.

All of that being said I must say that I am very pleased with the final project whether you use it as a flower vase or simply choose to display it as a stand alone object, I know you will be pleased and a smile will shine on your face when someone sees it for the first time and they say, “Oh My”. I hope you are interested in purchasing this design but if not, know that I am actively working on another pattern using this same shape and size and if you would like to be kept abreast of its development simply drop me a line and I will make sure I keep you up to date.

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Stairstep Braiding

I have received a lot of comments about different forms of braiding I have used so here is the scoop about the one I am using on my centerpieces.

This one is best described as a stairstep braid which is beautiful and practical. I have used it to join two pieces of leather and at the same time it is pleasing to the eye. When you spend the time learning how to braid, you find it unnecessary to use metal brads or needle and thread, and your work will stand out. Properly done, the braid enhances your leather creation.

I am using the stairstep applique on the centerpieces because it is practical and just plains works. Holes of 1/8 inch are placed on 1/4 inch center line where the edge of the hole is at least 1/8 inch from the edge of the leather.

The thong is entered from the back up and through hole 1 then down hole 2. Leave the edge of the lace about two inches from completely going through hole 1. Now take the thong and pass it again up and through hole 1 then down through hole 3. Next pass the thong up and through hole 2 (this is where you must decide to work pass the lace either on the right side or left side). Next go down and through hole 4 then up and through hole 3. The process is now repeated until completion. When have finished pass your lace under the bottom final on the backside and trim. Don’t forget to trim your lace at the beginning.

I have included two photos to demonstrate how this easy braid can be used to beautify your work. In the picture below you will notice that the opposing braids are “in balance”. This is because on one side I consistently passed the lace on the left side and the other one was consistently passed on the right side.