Sunday, February 11, 2018

Leather Craft

 Many, many, many years ago when my children were in elementary school before I was teaching art full time, I worked at a Day Camp. This was a pretty fancy camp because instead of being just an arts and crafts counselor, we had a speciality.  I was the leather craft counselor. Now before taking the job I knew nothing about leather crafts AND this was way before Google! So I learned by going to my local Tandy Leather Shop.  After doing that for a few summers, I invested in my own tools and did workshops as a visiting artist in schools and libraries.

 This hands on workshop, where children made a round leather key chain included lots of information on what leather was, where it came from AND what is made out of leather. I would show them part of a hide with the branding mark. I had lots of little items that I made out of leather and other skins that I shared with them.
Which included this cobra skin.
 I would explain how to use a mallet and stamping tools to decorate their key chain with. The leather used is made specifically for this purpose. To stamp designs you wet it with water. We use sponges and tried not to completely soak the leather. This is done to make the leather soft enough for stamping with the tools.
I would model how to hold the tool and use the mallet. I told them each tool was different and could be used to create patterns. When they were done I would dye it one color for them and add a beaded key chain.

When I started working as an art teacher full time I applied for grants to purchase leather to make key chains with my students. I also would buy a bag of scrap leather pieces for students to practice on. They needed that experience  because they would only get one "good" piece of leather.

Now in my quest to clean out both my house and my art room I realized I had some leather available to use with students. They all wouldn't make the same thing and I couldn't do it across all grade levels, but I would match the amount of what I had left to the number of students in a particular grade level. The last time I did this my 5th graders were in kindergarten.

 First grade made different shape pendants (which I see them wearing around school, awww).

 My second graders made the round key chains.

Fourth grade made bookmarks, All used Sharpies to color them in.

Now one of the reasons I'm sharing this is that I see requests on Facebook all the time about art teachers getting some money and asking for suggestions on what to buy. This is an absolutely wonderful way to offer something so very different for our students. And it addresses many of our standards: history, cultures, recycling, patterns, using different media, etc.

Many of the tools can be purchased on ebay cheaper than my original cost over 25 years ago.
All you need to start is a class set of mallets (I have 30) and maybe 3 dozen different tools. A leather hole punch if you plan on making key chains. Get some leather and sponges and you'll be ready to start! Seriously I think it can be done for under $200 NOT including the leather. There is a way to order leather in bulk as well as buying the hide and cutting it down to suit your purpose.

Thanks for Reading!

Anyone here do leather crafts with their students??