This is a passport wallet I made. I included a sleeve on the right for the passport, and a bill/document sleeve with two card slots on the left. I hand-dyed the leather with a mixture of Fiebing’s Saddle-Tan and Fiebing’s Dark Brown (both oil based). The colour up being a medium brown with a hint of orange. I included a double snap closure, and sanded, burnished and polished all the edges.
In honor of FINALLY getting the Enchantress kit up for sale, I thought I’d do a quick post about how your dye job is important to bringing out the best in your tooling.
So leather tooling (aka carving) is done on vegetable-tanned (and ONLY veg-tanned) leather, the kind that is stiff and sort of pinkish-tan when you buy it. If it feels like you could sew a jacket out of it, you’ve got the wrong kind. How to do leather carving is a lesson for a different time, but you do your carving before you do your dyeing, so when you’re done it looks like this:
The design is pretty complex, but the tooling technique here is very simple: you cut the outline of the pattern with a swivel knife and then use a textured beveller to stamp around the design and give it depth.
Next you apply your dye – dyes come in water-based and alcohol-based varieties, and which you use is a matter of personal preference. Water-based is better for the environment, but it WILL run when it gets wet. Alcohol-based is waterproof, and also tends to provide more vivid color.
Applying dye evenly across a piece of leather is really hard, it wants to come out blotchy. Something that I’ve found helpful is to dampen the surface of the leather with water before you dye it – that way, the leather doesn’t soak up the dye quite as quickly and you can “float” it further across the surface and spread it around more evenly. Anyway, this was an alcohol dye, the Angelus-brand jade green (which has the benefit of being an alcohol-based dye that is legal in California):
And yeah, my camera’s not great, but it’s not the just camera that’s making it look so dull and flat. There’s very little contrast between the design and the backgrounding (the textured parts) so it’s hard to tell what’s going on – the image doesn’t jump out at you, you have to look closely or it’s just a jumble of lines.
The way to make your design POP is to use a highlight – Eco-Flo hilite, Eco-Flo antique gel, Fiebings antique paste, etc. If you’ve ever done figure painting, this is the same principle as the ink wash.
These products are thicker than dyes, so you glop it on over the top, spread it all around and make sure it gets into every crevice, and then take a damp cloth/paper towel and wipe off the excess. (Do make sure you put a sealant over your piece after dyeing, before highlighting, or the highlight is liable to stain and muddy your colors.)
Again, my camera is still terrible and it’s making the highlight job look really uneven. I promise it’s not, so ignore that and turn your attention instead to the way all of the textured bits have picked up the gel antique. This is the reason for using a textured beveller – which can be stipples, like this, or diagonal lines, like my Thorin bracers/boot caps – instead of a smooth beveler; texture picks up highlight better, which increases the contrast between the design and the background.
Last step was to add gold, because WHY NOT~? Gold makes everything glorious.
But even in the rosy glow of evening here, you can tell that it wouldn’t have the same depth without those dramatic shadows – dramatic shadows that are courtesy of (1) textured bevellers and (2) some form of highlight.
I have been itching to share this for so long!! I wrote @emmkid a letter from Solas (post Trespasser) as a Christmas gift and I couldn’t show anyone until she opened it because I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. Eeei I am so glad she liked it. <3
Notes: I typed the letter, transferred it to the nice paper using a lightbox, stamped it with a wax stamp wolf seal and made the leather portfolio out of 8-9 oz veg tanned leather. I hand painted the mask of Fen`Harel on the front in silver acrylic.
My new years resolution was to learn to make my own wallet. SInce then, I have worked on a number of leather projects to firm up some skills before undertaking the wallet project. As things stand, above is a selection of images from my first draft at the perfect wallet.
This design focusses on the lightweight, losing a number of unnecessary elements. In an electronic age, and rising price of commodities means that paper money and cards are the main aspects to focus on.
A second draft will feature a slightly larger size as the card space is limited. Fixtures and clasps will be altered and some consideration about the design of the change area.
Nonetheless, I am happy with how things are going, and I reckon the second draft will be the final one. I’ve enjoyed working with and using an untreated veg tan leather, allowing the wallet to soak up its own history, memories, stains and creases.