Friday, April 22, 2011

Modifying a seeder to make scales

When Jan and I worked on the Brown Trout picture in the Sculptured Leather Art lesson series, he showed me a simple modification to make a seeder tool into a "scale" tool. The seeder tool can be used as it comes by tilting the tool at an angle, but by grinding off about 1/3 of the face of the tool, it is a lot easier to. I picked up a few spare seeder tools at one of my trips to Tandy Leather Factory while I was in Billings and decided to modify them today. It was very quick and easy to do with a dremel tool and a grinding disc. I modifed three tools so I'd have a variety of scale tools to work with,   S631, S632 and S633.

This first picture shows the S633 tools as it comes from Tandy.
I used a Dremel tool with a grinding disc to file off about 1/3 of the face of the tool.

Here is how the tool looks with the modification made. Simple and quick to do, and now the tool doesn't have to be leaned on it's edge to make scales.

(below) Jan's brown trout  "scaled" with a tool similar to this one. Click on the picture to get a close up.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Some history on the hairing knife from Paul Burnett

I received an email from Paul Burnett after I made the post about the hairing knife and I got his permission to share it here. I thought some of you might be interested in the history of this tool. Thanks Paul for sharing this. If any of you don't know who Paul is, check out his Painting Cow website. Paul is an amazing leather artist and teacher. 

"I developed this tool in order to make my life sized birds. Needed something that would actually split the edges of some feathers.  I taught a class in Cleveland on making a 3D life sized cardinal and that is where Robb and Robert learned of the tool.  At the same time I introduced them to the modified F910 to the shape of the F902 which is another tool I modified to make better feathers, mainly splits and edges.  How I did that is illustrated in my “American Kestrel Wildlife Study”.  The “Robb and Robert Show” (as they were affectionately  known) even gave the two tools names:  “Ike” and “Mike”.   I tried to get Leather Factory to make one where the blades could be easily replaced but they didn’t see the need.  Randy Knutson invented the concept of putting the blades in a swivel knife and sold them.  They could use 2 to 8 blades (I think).  I think Robb might have sold them for him?  I know Randy sold them to Hidecrafters for a while and also to the Japanese tool company.  Randy may still have some for sale?  Just a little leather craft trivia I thought you might want to know.   Paul Burnett"

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Making a simple hairing knife

A lot of people ask "where do I get a multi-blade hairing knife.  Hidecrafters used to carry one that Robb Barr used but I don't think they do anymore. Jan Schoonover sells one made out of a modified Craftool swivel knife for around $65. Bob Beard told me how to make a very simple version of these knives and said that he and Robb used them a lot to make feathers. I've made a bunch of these and used them in classes and they work just fine.

Start by cutting a 3 inch long piece off a 1/2 inch wooden dowel.
 Then mark the center on one end of the dowel and drill a 1/4 inch hole in that end, about 3/4 inch deep. It doesn't matter if you are off center a little.
You will need some 2-part epoxy, available at most hardware or craft stores. You will also need 5 number 16 X-acto knife blades.
This stuff is made by Super Glue and it's nice because the syringe has 2 plungers and  you don't have to measure the resin and the hardener.
 Stir the resin and the hardener together.
 Fill the hole in the dowel with the mixed up epoxy.
The hole doesn't need to be filled all the way to the top because some will push out when you stick the blades in. You will want to poke something in the epoxy to make sure there isn't an air bubble preventing the epoxy from going in the hole.
Stack 5 X-acto knife blades together and insert them into the epoxy filled hole. Be careful as some of the epoxy may spill over the top and run down the sides. Wipe off any excess on the sides, but if it stays on top, that's okay.
Press the tips of the blades against something smooth and hard to line them up evenly. Don't use your finger tip to try to line them up. It doesn't work well and requires band aides!

Stand the knife up on it's end and let the epoxy dry the required length of time. Your knife will then be ready to use.
The knife is held like a pencil and hair can be drawn onto the leather. Cut rows right next to or slightly over lapping each other to avoid gaps in the hair. These blades are a lot sharper than a regular hair blade and cut a lot deeper into the leather.
A scalpel is then used  to cut  under the rows of  hair that were made with the multi-blade knife.This allows the  individual hairs to  separate and lift, giving the appearance of realistic hair.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

In Your Face- Cape Buffalo

In Your Face- Cape Buffalo is a painting by wildlife artist Daniel Smith from Bozeman, MT.  My friend Crystal shared a link to this picture with me a while back. I really liked the depth that the artist achieved in the painting.  I  wondered if I could get the same depth in a leather carving. I saved the link and kept going back and looking at it, not being able to get the picture out of my mind. Finally I decided to sent the artist an email asking for permission to try carving this picture into leather. I was happy to get a response from him saying it was okay and that he'd like a photo of it when I was finished.

This picture was challenging because  of all the different layers of depth and the different textures. The shape of the horns and the depth in the eyes are what intrigued me the most. You  have to wonder how the ear got mangled. The bird sitting on the nose was a fun addition and the shaggy hair was a neat texture to replicate. Finally, the little piece of grass hanging out of his mouth added the final bit of "attitude" to the finished picture. It was a lot of fun to do something different and use all of the techniques I've learned from Jan in the last couple years create this piece.