How I choose leather for making flowers

How I choose leather for making flowers

leather hides
As I’ve always said cold months is that period of the year when leather flowers outshine fabric ones. Amonsgt other reasons I would mention at least the following two:

❀ leather is a more durable material and flowers made of leather are more weather-resistant than silk ones

❀ leather and suede flowers nicely complement winter wardrobe pieces made of thick warm fabrics and wool, accentuate hats, bags and boots.

 

 

At the moment I am working on a new tutorial which will be released later this week. As the tutorial is on a leather flower, I thought I’d share some useful tips on how I choose leather for making flowers.

In order to create leather blooms we use only genuine leather or suede. No synthetic substitutes can withstand the heat of a flower iron when flowers are being shaped.

It is best to work with decent quality materials. This way you will enjoy the process of creation and the final piece will show class. Leather comes in grades. There are 3 primary grades, the smaller the number the higher the quality. Because petals and leaves are relatively small compared to, say, garment parts, we  do not have to use Grade 1 leather skins, Grade 2 will do just as fine.

For leather or suede flowers only thin and soft skins are recommended. The best thickness is 0.5-0.8 mm, but you can use skins up to 1 mm thick. Ideally look for goat and lambskins that are suitable foe clothing or glove making (gloving leather). Sometimes I use pig suede. Although it is a bit on a thicker side and can be uneven, the wide range of rich colours it comes in makes it difficult to resist.

Leather and suede have different finishes. This variety of finishes is used to enhance the natural beauty of leather. The most common ones are aniline, pigmented, patent, metallic, oily, waxy, suede and nubuck. Leathers with different finishes will behave differently when stiffened and shaped to be turned into a flower piece.

Unlike silk leather is much less predictable. That is why it is virtually impossible to recreate a leather flower again. It will be different and for me that is the advantage of working with leather. Creating leather flowers is always a journey into the unknown. No need to worry, the outcome is always uniquely beautiful.

rolls of leather

The release date of the new tutorial as well as a special offer for the readers of my blog I will announce later in a separate e-mail. Keep your eyes peeled 🙂

PHOTO TUTORIALS on LEATHER FLOWERS THAT ARE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

 

tutorial banner

 

We also offer individual workshops on leather flowers, so if you are interested please click through for more information.

 

Indian Summer has arrived. New line of leather flowers

Indian Summer has arrived. New line of leather flowers

It is official, autumn is here. And although the days are still rather warm and even sunny the mornings are chilly and filled with dewy cobwebs.
In colder months I find that silks and other delicate fabrics tend to lose their appeal and give way to more seasonally appropriate fellow material, leather. Lately, I have been working on my new line which I dubbed Indian Summer. Those of you who live in the Southern Hemisphere may not have experienced this natural phenomenon. Indian summer is a bit of summer in autumn, a period of lovely warm and dry weather that occurs between late September and mid November in the Northern Hemisphere .
So what I was trying to achieve here is a line of brightly coloured accessories featuring autumnal blooms in rich and seasonal hues.
I started with chrysanthemums and have created this rusty orange open chrysanthemum corsage made of thin leather.

Click here for more detail on chrysanthemum corsage

The next piece was a red and brown leather gerbera.

Red leather gerbera brooch

Of course I could not possibly forget about roses, so I created two: an open one made of velvety suede in cerise colour

Cerise suede rose brooch. SOLD OUT

 and an English multipetal rose in deep aubergine hue. The latter one was experimental and I am pleased with the result. When I get hold of more very thin gloving leather I will make more of it in other colours.

Click here to read more about the purple rose brooch

One of the most unusual pieces from my Indian Summer line was this one called Summer Reminiscence. Not exactly a wearable hat, but a leather hat brooch, that’s what it is.
To give you a sense of scale I’ll just mention that the diameter of the pink rose is about 1 cm.
The hat and the trimmings are made using genuine leather and suede.

Leather hat brooch

The autumn has just started and I am planning to add more pieces to this bright line of accessories. I must admit, not all the experiments were equally successful, some like cyclamens and anemones need more work done to them which will keep me entertained during shortening autumnal days.
As always I would love to hear your feedback on my work, do it by either commenting below or e-mailing me at svetlana.faulkner@gmail.com

How I tame leather. Mini-tutorial on stiffening leather skins

How I tame leather. Mini-tutorial on stiffening leather skins

Stiffening leather tutorial

Those of you who have tried working with genuine leather know how temperamental it can be. Leather is a natural product and as a result may have imperfections such as holes or scars, the thickness and stretch can vary too. And it is completely unpredictable when it comes to shaping it with hot flower iron.
For my floral pieces I stiffen leather is several ways. Today I am going to share one of this ways with you. The result is a flat stiff piece of leather that can be shaped with a flower iron. I use flat stiff leather to make a range of flowers including my camellias, gerberas etc.So here is how I do it. But first of all the kit:

1. Measuring jug
2. A piece of genuine leather for stiffening
3. Bowl
4. White (PVA) glue
5. Measuring spoon
and a piece of plastic or a glass board as seen in the picture.
I use a rather thiсk PVA glue intended for craft purposes. The ratio of glue to water can be from 1 to 5  to 1 to 10 depending on how thick your leather or glue are and how stiff you want the leather to be. You might need to experiment with the quantities, but the general guidelines are: the thicker the leather the weaker the solution (less glue). The ready to use solution should look like milk.

I use a measuring spoon to measure the amount of glue.

In the picture 10 ml of glue are being mixed with 100 ml of water.

Dissolve the glue in water to get a solution resembling milk. If you have sensitive skin consider wearing gloves.

Immerse the piece of leather (about A4 size or so) into the solution and make sure it is well soaked in it.

When the whole piece has been soaked, twist it to get rid of extra solution. The leather should be almost dry.

Then stretch it to make it even and thin it a bit more. I tend to use leathers with a thickness of 0.6-0.8 mm or so the sellers say but it is still rather thick for the flower making. Stretching the wet piece of leather in some cases makes it thinner but it all depends on the properties of the particular leather you are using.

I stretch in all directions: horizontally, vertically and diagonally.

With your both hands flatten the stretch piece of leather on the smooth flat surface (like this glass board).

Leave the flattened and smoothed piece of leather to dry completely before cutting and tooling it. It might take up to 24 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

stiffening leather

 

Coloured leather skins are rather delicate and may require more gentle handling than the black leather shown in the photos  above.

Consider using a large kitchen tray where you can place your leather in one layer. Place the piece of leather into the tray (either side up) and pour the warm stiffening solution over it. Let it soak for several minutes. Most probably you will need to help the leather get well saturated by gently rubbing the solution into the leather with your fingertips. Try to do it carefully to avoid making any marks or damage the surface of the leather.

stiffening leather

 

 

Once the leather has gone evenly darker all over its surface, lift it and gently squeeze any extra solution out of it by running it between your fingers. Then you can spread it onto a work surface or a glass table evenly as shown above and leave to dry completely.

 

 

 

 

leather dahlia brooch tutorial
 For more detailed instructions on how to stiffen coloured (especially pale) leather skins refer to our detailed LEATHER DAHLIA TUTORIAL.

 

Good luck with your stiffening!

 

 

Leather flowers to cater for all tastes this autumn

Leather flowers to cater for all tastes this autumn

This week I have been working with leather. With autumn on our doorstep it seems to me to be the right material for flower making as silk flowers are more fragile and in a way more refined for decorating  outerwear.

I finished 2 brooches, both similar in shape but the colour schemes are very different.

The first floral brooch made of genuine beige leather will spice up your trench coat in classic beige shades. This leather flower also perfectly complements natural fabrics such as linen, cotton, raw silk, as well as straw and genuine leather and suede in light colours.
The diameter of the flower is about 9 cm.
Available for purchase from my Etsy shop

 For those of you who find the calmness of beige too boring I am offering this bright alternative: a floral brooch in intense colours to beat the autumn blues.
The flower is made of genuine suede of 2 hues: fuchsia for the petals and emerald green for the leaves. At the moment it is also available for purchase here.
Are you prepared for the coming autumn?
Leather rose

Leather rose

I am continuing my experiments with genuine leather, this rich and pliable material, great for making floral accessories.
As a part of my new capsule collection I have created 2 leather roses, different in size and shape.
The new collection called NATURALS will comprise of a range of accessories made using natural materials in natural colours and hues.
So the new roses (both corsages) are created using beige leather  and tan suede. They make an essential wardrobe addition for any girl who prefers natural fabrics such as linen, cotton, raw silk, as well as straw and genuine leather and suede in light colours.

The small closed rose is about 5 cm in diameter. It is finished with a brooch pin.

Small leather rose

The large open rose is complemented with tan-coloured leaves made of genuine suede.

Open leather rose corsage

It is finished with a brooch pin as well as the small one.

These unique leather corsages will make a lovely gift for your Mum, sister or a girlfriend. They are available from my Etsy shop.

If you are interested in learning how to make leather flowers or in purchasing a .pdf tutorial on leather flowers, please feel free to contact me via this blog, my Etsy store or e-mail me at svetlana.faulkner@gmail.com.

What about a leather flower?

What about a leather flower?

I purchased some differently coloured leather pieces back in November and could not find time to turn them into flowers. Finally time has been chosen and last week I tried my luck in creating my first real leather flower. It is a cross breed between a rose and a camellia. Well I think it is a rose but my husband said it looked more like a camellia. It is made of greyish beige genuine leather including a pair of leaves. For the leaves to stand out and not to blend with the petals I tinted them lightly with a golden spray. The leather camellia is finished with a brooch pin (see pictures). I must say it is a perfect accessory for the winter period when silk flowers are somewhat fragile and light. The leather corsage would look good not only decorating an outfit, but a belt or a handbag too.
Here are some pictures of the leather camellia flower brooch

You can always order a custom flower from my Etsy shop.
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And a Happy New Year to you! 🙂