How to Set Crystals Into Leather

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Leatherworking projects provide a flexible material for decorative work. One popular way of accenting leather is with stones or crystals. In most commercial products, any such stones are set in metal that is then attached to the leather, but due to leather's plastic nature it is possible to create a setting for your crystals out of the material itself.

Things You'll Need

  • Leather
  • Craft knife
  • Crystal
  • Pot of water
  • Leather cement

Soak the leather in cool water until it is wet all the way through. Soaking the leather, fully immersed, for a few minutes should be sufficient for most projects, but the time needed will depend on the thickness of the leather.

Take the leather out and allow it to dry enough that it is no longer dripping or forming "puddles" on the surface when gently squeezed, but is still wet and flexible.

Cut a small indentation into the leather with the craft knife on the spot where you plan to set the crystal. Make the indentation the same general shape as the crystal, being careful not to cut so deep into the leather that you puncture through to the other side. If you are using very thin leather, it may be advisable to skip this step.

Wrap the wet leather closely around the bottom of the crystal where you intend to set it, making sure to draw the leather up and around the outside edges of the crystal to hold it in place. Depending on the size and shape of the crystal, it may help to tie a string around the underside of the leather to hold it.

Dip the leather wrapped around the crystal into near-boiling (steaming but not bubbling) water for about 15 seconds; then pull it out and keep it wrapped around the crystal until it cools back down and dries enough to stop dripping. Be careful not to dip the leather past the part holding the crystal, as it will harden and darken somewhat if you do.

Remove the crystal once the leather is only damp and place a few drops of leather cement on the inside of the setting and on the underside of the crystal. Replace the crystal into the setting and tie a string around the leather to hold it in place.

Allow the leather and cement to dry completely by letting them sit in a warm, dry location overnight.

Unwrap the string and open out the leather once the leather is completely dry and has stiffened somewhat. The setting will have hardened in place, holding the crystal within it, with the cement providing additional strength to the setting and helping to keep the crystal from rattling around within it.

References

  • "The Leatherworking Handbook: A Practical Illustrated Sourcebook of Techniques and Projects;" Valerie Michael; 2006
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