Stamping and carving leather is an excellent way to show off creativeness and artistic skills for any artist.
- Vegetable Tanned Leather: This is the only kind of leather that can be stamped and carved on because it isn’t stuffed with oils and wax.
- Stamping / Carving tools
- Mallet: Wood or rawhide
- Leather Stylist
- Tracing Paper
- Marble slab: Highly recommending but not an absolute must, a very hard surface is sufficient.
There are thousands of stamping tools that an artist can use to create their design on leather.
Some of the most popular tools for beginners include:
- Swivel Knife
- Craftool Z-V407, Veiner
- Craftool Z-P 206, Pear
- Craftool Z-A104, Pear Shader (backgrounder)
- Craftool Z-B 197, Smooth Beveler
- Craftool Z-S 705, Seeder
- Craftool Z-C431, Camouflage
- Craftool PX 001, Basketweave
- Alphabet and number 3D stamp sets
* You purchase these tools as a kit here.
What’s the difference between stamping and carving?
Stamping is simply using a premade stamp that will leave a 3D impression on the leather. This can include letters, numbers, shapes, and designs. These tools range in size.
Carving however is taking multiple tools carving your image into the leather creating more elaborate sceneries and designs.
When stamping or carving on leather always work on a marble slab or a hard surface to achieve the crispest impressions.
Step #1: Trace the Image
Choose the picture you want to carve into the leather and trace it on tracing paper with a pen or pencil, from the tracing paper transfer the image on to your leather using your stylist.
Step #2: Prep the Leather
To prep the leather to receive impressions you will need to get the leather fairly wet, but not soaking. Using your sponge, apply water in a circular motion making sure to apply evenly, this allows the fibers in the leather to loosen.
If you have a large design and the leather starts to dry simply apply more water to the leather in the area that you are working on.
Step #3: Cut the outline
Make sure your swivel knife is sharp before you begin, and then use it to follow the outline, and main lines of your image. You will want to create a groove that is half the thickness of the leather.
How to hold and use a swivel knife
Take your index figure and rest in the cradle that’s located at the top of the knife. Your index figure is the one that dictates how deep your cut will be. While applying pressure use your thumb, middle and ring fingers to maneuver around the corners.
Note: Be sure to take your time and cut towards you. This will help with making the depth of the cut the same throughout and give you more control.
Step #4: Bevel
Use your Craftool Z-B 197 beveler by striking the top of the handle with a mallet to enhance the lines you just cut with your swivel knife, giving it a 3D effect.
Step #5: Fill outline
Once you have your outline cut and lines beveled complete your image and add depth to it by creating shadows, fades, and borders using various stamping tools.
Once your image is complete just let it dry and you have created a master piece to show off to your friends and family.
How do you know which tools to use?
Play around with your tools and figure out what tools do what and then just be creative. Carving is an art there is no right or wrong, it all depends on the look you are trying to achieve.
Carving takes time so be patient and just enjoy working with the leather and watch a flat surface turn into an amazing 3D image.