Category Archives: leather


I have been trying in vain to put this information on my workshop page,but unfortunately after 4 hours of trying , it still will not go where I want it to .
So for the time being it will be staying as a post.

If anyone can explain how I can move this table from my blog post onto a permanent page and still look like it does here, I would be very happy.





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One to one workshops are available- 60 € per day

Get busy crafting, or get busy blogging ….

After my last post , I was pretty busy getting everything ready for my exhibition which started on July 1st, and did not have time to write.
Everything was ready in time , and I was satisfied with how it looked for my first show.

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I was also pleased that it started before my parents arrived on the 4th July, as once they arrived all making and creating ( and blogging) came to a stand still.

exhibition gois 2014 009

My workroom has been my bedroom for the last few weeks, but today it is back to being a work room again. I am looking forward to getting back in there tomorrow.

Since my last post I have started a Facebook page called Art & Craft Portugal where I will be posting regular updates on what I am up to. Please take a look by clicking on the Facebook link to the top right hand side of this post. Don’t forget to ” Like” my page whist you’re there.

Please have a look at my Facebook page , and give it a LIKE  . Just click on the link on the to right hand side of this page .

Please have a look at my facebook page , and give it a LIKE . Just click on the link on the right hand side of this page .

Should I re-think my TO DO list ?

I have been so busy experimenting and creating, I have just realized that it’s been more than a week since I posted anything .

I’ve had one of those weeks where I wanted to get certain things underway. I wrote my Things To Do list, and managed to get a lot done, BUT none of the things from my list !

Why is that ?
I don’t understand why, but I am not dwelling on it, as I did lots of other things instead.

I didn’t start designing my Easter cards, Mothers day cards or come up with a new leather bag design( all on the list)

Instead I finished off some polymer jewellery, practised copperplate writing, made some polymer clay pieces using words, experimented with paints on leather, made some polymer/leather cuffs and rings, and did a painting.

I am thinking I should write a to do list that does not include the things I need to get done. Maybe then I might tackle them ?

Just a few of the things…

Creating with Leather – a coin purse that fits easily in the pocket

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It’s been a long time since I used my leather tools. The reason being that when the weather is as cold as it has been , my hands are like blocks of ice, and it is a bit dangerous trying to cut and stitch with no feeling in them.

So now the weather is warming up, I am able to start doing some leather work again .

I thought I would practise on some small items before getting into designing and making anything too complicated

Making this coin purse uses quite a few techniques, so it is a good piece to start with.


1. Make a pattern
2. Mark out and cut leather
3. Cut grooves in back side of leather so that it can fold easily
4. Make holes for fastener
5. Punch and carve a pattern on flap
6. Mark out stitching holes
7. Glue and clamp the two edges
8. Saddle stitch
9. Burnish the edges smooth
10. Add fastener & polish

…. and that’s all there is to it .

making a moulded leather camera

I first got into working with leather after enrolling on a residential course with Val Michaels, who along with her husband Neil MacGregor, are two of the most amazingly talented and skilled leather artisan/ crafts persons in England today.
Whilst on the course one of the skills I learned was, how to make a moulded leather bag .

The wet leather is stretched over a hardwood former and tacked onto a baseboard before a second piece of wood, with the former shape cut out, is placed over the top. It is left over night to dry, and the end result is a smooth perfect shaped hard leather shell which can be stitched onto a flat back piece to create a bag.


When I decided to make a moulded camera case, my biggest problem was not having a wooden former the size of my camera to stretch the leather over, and not being able to make one myself.
I decided to give it a try using the camera as the mould. I wrapped it in lots of cling film, and after soaking the leather in water I stretched it over the camera, and pressed down as firmly as i could with my hands.
As the leather started to dry I repeated the stretching and moulding process a few more times, and then left it over night to dry .


Although the leather was not as firm and as smooth on the corners as when I used a proper mould, I did end up with a camera shaped moulded piece of leather that I was able to use


1. I trimmed around the moulded piece of leather leaving an edge of about 6mm.
2. I drew around the moulded piece onto a flat piece of leather, with a scratch awl, and cut it out for the back
3. I glued the edges ( apart from the top) and stuck it to the back, using bull-dog clips to hold it together until dry, and then I rounded off the corners
4. I set my dividers to 3 mm and drew a line around the edge where the stitching would be
5. Using a number 8 pricking iron I marked out the stitch holes along the line made with the dividers
6. I put it in the stitching clam and sewed it together using Saddle stitch
7. I burnished all the cut edges until they were smooth and shiny
8. I punched out holes and added a Sam Browne brass stud
9. I made a simple punched pattern on the flap, then waxed and polished it.

I now have a lovely unique leather case, that I think will probably out live the camera inside !

A busier week …..

This week has been a lot more productive. Here are just a few photos to show you what I have been up to.

In my next post I will explain in more detail how i made the moulded leather camera case.

Enjoy your week-end .

My leather tools Part 2

I am sorry for the delay in writing this post. I have just got back from a last minute trip to the UK after writing part 1, and this is my first day back in the workshop .
Whilst I was in England I treated myself to some art and craft supplies which I am dying to start playing with next week, but today I need to introduce you to some more of my leather tools, and the jobs they do.

This is a very important part of my tool kit. It holds the leather pieces together, leaving both hands free to be able to stich. I use saddlers stitch to join most of my leather pieces, which uses two needles at the same time. It creates a very strong stitch that unlike a machine stitch will not unravel. The clam is held between the legs, and is gripped near to the knees, with the jaws close enough to the eye to see the pricking line easily.


I use good quality linen thread which I wax to make it very strong. The needles are saddlers needles which have a blunt end and largish eye. The size of needle and thickness of thread depends on the number of stitches per inch I am using.

I use this if I have a thin edge that needs to be folded over another piece of leather. The edge is glued and then the bone folder is used to crease the leather and fold it over before stitching.

This is for adding a decorative line around the finished edges of leather. It strengthens the edge also, as it compresses the leather fibres. I tend to prefer a plain edge, so I don’t use this tool very often.

At the moment these are more toys than anything else. I am learning how to use them correctly, and need a lot more practice ! The swivel knife is used to carve into the surface of vegetable tanned leather to make patterns, and the stamping tools create textures and patterns onto the surface, creating tooled leather.

STRAP CUTTER This is a great little tool, which cuts leather into long thin strips, needed for straps, belts, dog collars etc. The blade width is set, and the tool is pulled along the egde of the leather from one end to the other. The first edge has to be cut straight using a ruler and knife , before the strap cutter can be used for the rest.

These are a set of metal cylinders with different sized ends and a metal base plate with indentations in it. The rivet or snap ( press stud) sits in the metal plate and the cylinder tool is hit with a hammer against the snap to fix the two parts together on either side of the leather.

This is to measure the thickness of the leather. I use it mostly when i am skiving ( paring) two pieces that are to be joined. I check I am paring the leather evenly, so that it is sits together neatly. It is also handy to have with you when buying leather, to check the thickness, and if there are big variations of thickness throughout the leather

So those are the main tools I use, and a quick summary of what they do.
Depending on what I am making I might use most of the tools, or just a couple of them.

If you are thinking of making some things in leather and are not sure what tools you need, then please email me, and I will hopefully be able to help you out.

Or if you would like to learn the basics of working with leather, and how to use the tools I have mentioned, I offer one to one courses at my workshop in the beautiful Portuguese countryside. For more information, or to discuss creating a course to fulfill you needs e-mail me or give me a call( see contact me page for details)



Now I have the space, I have been chomping at the bit to start using my leather tools again and so I decided to get them out of hiding, dust them down, give them a bit of a clean and sharpen and introduce them to my workshop.

I thought you might be interested in meeting them too, so here is a brief introduction to some of the main players, and the jobs I hope they will be resuming very soon.

The scratch awl has a round shaft and a pointed tip. It is used to scratch a line into the surface of the leather by running it around the edge of a card template.

The stitching awl has a diamond shaped blade that needs to be kept smooth and sharp. It is a very important tool, if you want to hand stitch leather, as it pierces holes through the leather, enabling the needle(s) to pass through.

I have two knives. A straight-edged knife, and a clicker knife with a curved blade . I use the straight knife for most of my cutting, although the curved edge is useful for awkward small cuts and corners.

SKIVING KNIFE There are a variety of different looking knives for this job. Which ever one you have it needs to be kept very sharp. It is used to pare down leather, to make it thinner in a specific area, and is very useful when layers are used, to stop the leather becoming too bulky.

DIVIDERS The job i use these for mostly is for measuring an even line a set distance from the edge of the leather, where the stitching will be. It is the line that the pricking iron will follow.

PRICKING IRON This tool marks where the stitch holes are to be made. The number of the iron tells you how many marks it will make per inch. The smaller the number of marks, the bigger the stitches will be. The iron is positioned with the prongs in the centre of the line drawn by the dividers, and then hit with a mallet, hard enough to leave a mark in the leather, but NOT hard enough to pierce the leather.

RACE The race is sharp at one end .It is pulled along the underside of the leather to scrape a groove into it,making it easier to fold and bend .

BEVELLER This tool is used to shave a small amount of leather from the edge, slightly rounding it off. It gives the leather a neat clean edge.

HOLE PUNCH Used to make holes in leather for a variety of reasons such as placing rivets, studs, and snap fasteners.

So those are just a few of my leather tools and a very brief explanation of what they do. I hope you found it interesting

In Part 2 I will introduce you to some more of the gang.


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I managed to find some silver coloured metal leaf in Coimbra the other week , and have been dying to start using it ever since.
This week I had a nice play with it, by using it with my fimo in making some black and silver crackle fimo, and in making some black turquoise and silver mokame gane bits and bobs.

Mokame gane is traditionally a japanese method of making beautiful patterns in metals that were used in sword making . It involves thin laminates of different coloured metals being layered into a block, which is then cut into and hammered to make different pattens.

It also works well to make beautiful patterns using Polymer clay, and is great fun to do.

I used 3 colours of FIMO soft clay, turquoise,royal blue and black, with silver leaf between the blue and turqouise clay.

I rolled, cut and stacked the clay until i had a small stripy block.
I then stuck different objects, such as biro tops, cocktail stick, screw heads, and a crinkle cutting blade into the clay to make random patterns.
I pushed some objects further into the clay than others, as this makes a difference to the pattern .

Then came the really fun bit !

I cut across the top of the stack with a very thin blade, and basically shaved pieces off the fimo, to reveal lots of lovely patterns .

I used some shavings on top of black clay to make two long beads which I want to make into a lariat ( necklace), and the whole piece I had left I incorporated into a leather cuff, by attaching it to the metal snap fastening.

I had loads of shavings left, so I have wrapped them in baking paper to use at a later date.

It is the first time I have tried putting the polymer clay onto a leather cuff by attaching it to the top snap. I am not sure I like the way it sticks up, So I am going to try playing around with other ideas.