How We Do It: Leather Stuff

  We love to use leather to make creations: masks, over the eyebrow headpieces, eye patches, fortune cookies, bracers, What Would Neil Patrick Harris Do bracelets, emoticons (sweat drop/pulsing vein and question mark/exclamation point), Avatar: The Last Airbender top-knot, Avatar: The Last Airbender element hair ornaments, and more.

A lot of people ask us about how we make our leather masks. Well, it’s no secret.

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For our leather work, we use what is called Veg Tan leather. It’s a sturdy, approximately 1/8″ thick hide.

First, we trace our pattern.

Then, we wet it down using a spray bottle and water (so the moisture is even). This the key to working with leather. If you don’t need the extended working time, you can also using rubbing alcohol, which will evaporate, drying faster.

Once the leather is wet, we can begin the cutting process. The wetter the leather, the easier it is to cut and mold, so respraying is often necessary. A hole punch is used when we need to make a tight curve, such as the corner of an eye hole. Heavy duty cutters make the job a little easier, but it’s still very tough work for your hands.

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After the piece is cut out, we can bevel the edges and begin the shaping process–all while the leather is still wet! For our masks, we shape it directly on a face, rechecking its shape as it dries. And that’s the beauty of leather–its shape can easily be reformed. A leather mask will fit your face better than anything else. If we wanted, we would also carve and tool into the wet leather before shaping it.

Only after the leather has completely dried do we begin the painting or dying process. The wonderful thing about leather, is that it responds well to leather dye, as well as acrylic paint. And to finish it off, we spray it with a clear acrylic sealer to protect the finish.

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You’ll notice that we don’t punch a hole in the mask for elastic or string. We prefer to use toupee tape (aka Top Stick or Fashion Tape) to wear a mask. The double sided tape is made for your skin, so it won’t irritate you if you’re sensitive and it will also last all day!

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