Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Leather Cuff Bracelets- RES

A few weeks ago, a parent asked me if she could donate some fabric.  As an art teacher, I get tons of fabric donations, but rarely the type on offer- dense, strong upholstery fabric in consistent sizes. But the real stunner of the donation was a giant pile of beautiful leather samples from a furniture store.  Now, the RES art room does not actually have any leather working tools, but that's not going to stop me.
Project materials and samples
No awl? No leather punch? 
Okay, we have hammers and nails. And we have scissors.  
And we have both time and persistence. 

It's always a good time to use real tools.
Now, the holes are a mite small, even with large nails, and we do wish we had real tools for leather working, but unless a donation comes down from the art gods, it isn't going to happen this year. 

Finished beauties
But look at what students made!   Leather tools or not, these hip leather cuff bracelets are pretty rad.

Making them was a fairly simple process. I needed a one-period project that would allow a handful of students to finish up their tessellations from before vacation, and making leather cuffs fit perfectly into our time frame.

Students used paint pens (like DecoColor or Sharpie Paint) to draw designs on the smooth side of the leather.  

 A hole was punched at each end to insert leather cording. The cording I made just by cutting very thin strips from the leather samples, but you can buy it on a roll also.

On the ends of the cord we put a bead to keep it from pulling back through the hole, and then tied a knot to hold the bead.  This technique makes the cuffs highly adjustable in size.  To wear it, you just tie the two ends together.

Looks amazing with that henna!
Most students created a pattern, but there were no specifics given about what or how the artist should design the cuff. The long narrow form, however, lent itself well to repetition.

The metallic sheen is a silver paint pen.
Students really enjoyed making these, and have asked to have the opportunity to do them again if we have time at the end of the year. If you have any leather-working tools collecting dust in your basement, please consider donating them to these excited artists!

So cool, right?  I want an armful.
What could we do with real leather lunches and awls that we cannot do with nails?  Most leather working projects require the holes be pre-punched to be able to sew an edge, like for a leather pouch, as a standard sewing needle stands no chance of going through tough hide, so tools meant for this job would make it much easier for whole classes to accomplish.

Check out that long double-wrap cuff.
It's so satisfying to make artwork that is tangible, wearable, and cool.  
If you have any great ideas for leather projects RES artists might enjoy, please share them!

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