Getting started in leather crafting can be daunting, but with these project recommendations from Cory Carnley, beginners can work on mastering key skills and reducing frustration.
GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA, September 2, 2022 — When starting out with a new craft, it’s important to choose beginner’s projects capable of reinforcing key skills without bogging the learning process down in complexities. Cory Carnley advises that this helps leathercrafters grow in confidence, refine technique and gradually build a collection of tools and supplies.
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The Ideal Beginner Projects from Cory Carnley
There are several basic techniques in leather crafting, and these are gradually built upon as skill increases. An ideal starting project for a beginner needs to encompass the fundamentals but shouldn’t include a journey into more difficult trims or decorative elements, such as tooling.
Purists may prefer to tan their own leather to fully manage a project, but most beginners find working with finished leather a suitable start.
Sewists will recognize the necessity of patternmaking and cutting the leather for a project before starting, and mastering the art of casing, beveling, and burnishing are essential for routine craftsmanship, according to Cory Carnley.
At the very beginning, crafting an ordinary keychain offers a course in the casing, or soaking and drying leather for working, beveling for designs, and creating smooth edges and burnishing to treat the edges and provide a seal. Stitch work can be added for either aesthetic or practical purposes.
An appropriate next project following the keychain could be an animal collar, a belt, or an alternate form of a strap. This helps refine the casing, beveling, and burnishing skills learned previously while also introducing punching to create belt holes and additional edge work to add polish to the design. Many handmade belts also feature greater decorative work and stitching details. As confidence progresses, leather dyeing can be used for custom creations and a greater focus can be given to beveling unique designs purely for aesthetics.
From a simple credit card wallet to a basic folding wallet, a beginner may find the complexities of shaping leather, and the stitching required for a wallet and passport folder construction a fitting next challenge. If not previously attempted, this is an excellent stage for adding dyeing to create unique tones for an essential item and to make the most of measurements, pattern making, cutting, and stitching in a relatively compact area.
When the design incorporates any additional decorative elements, preplanning to work on individual pieces prior to assembling the whole is also a learning experience that makes tackling complex projects easier long-term. This also extends to preplanning the standard beveling, burnishing, and edgework required for multi-step creations.
Cory Carnley advises that after mastering a wallet, beginners can start exploring more complex work, such as tool belts with custom pockets and stitching or book covers. As the basic construction is mastered, refining design elements is his preferred way to explore new depths in the craft.