allegra bracers

Allegra in custom dragon wear, photo by Keith Bailey

People often expect our pieces to be made of leather, from the appearance. They are surprised when they pick something up and see how light and flexible our rubber/textile amalgam is. But, while it’s not our forte,  sometimes leather IS the best material for a costuming job. Here are some places to buy leather, learn to work with it, and find the tools you’ll need.

Starting with the raw materials:
Leather Supply Company sells whole hides of varying sizes and weights. They cater to the saddle making community.
Tandy has been around since 1919. They are beginner-friendly,  carrying a lot of kits, tools and patterns as well as raw materials.
Ohio Travel Bag sells a variety of hardware and fittings for leather work.

Do you want to paint on leather?  If you search “ExpertVillage: How to Paint Leather Jackets” on YouTube, you will find 12 of these in a series showing  the steps, what kind of paint, brushes, etc.  Here’s the paint she uses – Angelus. Another excellent paint for leather (and bodypainting too, see more about that tomorrow) is Createx.

Want to add spikes to your leather jacket or collar? Watch this.

How do you tool leather? Tooling or Stamping (or embossing) leather refers to the art of embossing three dimensional images on leather.  There are good tips here for tooling as well as estimating, making patterns, distressing, sewing, carving and more.

Here’s one of the tips:
Make a quick set of vembraces by finding a pair of men’s lace up leather boots at a thrift store. Cut off the upper portion, voila – vembraces with the eyelets already in place. A bonus – they’re probably already distressed for you.

xena-warrior-princessMore on tooling from EHow.

Tutorial for making Leather Brigandine Armor
Want to make the Xena leather dress? This site carries the patterns, or they will make you one custom for about 900.00.