Leather leaf Tutorial, Part 1


Here is my tutorial on how to make a simple handtooled leather leaf for a brooch. In the next tutorial I will show you how I stain and paint the leather and attatch a brooch pin.

For more information on the necessary tools and equipment see my blog article:

My blog article on what you need.

My speeded up stop-motion video shows the process. See it here on You Tube




Find a leaf that you like!  I have pressed a few that I like so I can see them again for reference.

For your first leather project I recommend using a leaf which isn’t too complicated.

Make a sketch of the shape and basic vein pattern on paper.

Leather is expensive to make mistakes on, since it is often impossible to correct them, so it is always better to plan out what you’re going to do on paper before you start.

When you are happy with the shape and vein pattern trace it onto transparent plastic paper with an indelible pen or a biro. If you use normal paper it gets wet and you can’t use it again. You could use the plastic transparent paper that comes inside cereal boxes.


Wet the piece of leather you want to use with a brush and wait for the water to soak in a bit.  If your leather is treated or dyed it won’t take the hand tooling well because for carving and tooling we wet leather to make it more pliable.  Place your transparent plastic paper over where you want the leaf and draw over your leaf shape and veins with a stylus or pen without ink. When you have done this you should be able to see your design on the leather, like in this photo below.

2016-04-22 16.38.23


Take a sharp craft knife and a cutting mat or other similar surface and carefully cut out the leaf shape.  Thicker leather is better for tooling on since you can get more depth but it takes more effort to cut.



Wet the edges of the leather and rub them along a curved edging tool to compact the edges and compress the lose fibers hanging off. This is called burnishing and takes a long time but I only do it a little for the leaves.


Wet the leather.  Take your swivel knife and pressing down make shallow broad cuts along your vein pattern. If you find the leather is sliding around on the surface you can wet the back of it a little to get it to stick in place a little.



Use an angled bevel tool and tap the end of it with your leatherwork hammer to compress along one side of your vein pattern to make depth. It is easier to understand if you watch the stop motion video I’ve made .

Then you can use a pear shaped tool to add depth where you want. It helps to keep looking at your original leaf.


While it is still damp you can bend it and try make it curved if you want.  When it dries it should maintain the shape you put it in (unless it was too curled up or bent).


Now let it dry out.


Watch the next tutorial video (coming soon) on staining and painting the leaf.


If you don’t feel like making one yourself you could buy one from my etsy shop  =)


Have a great week!  And happy Crafting!




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