A couple of weeks ago I posted about one of my first leather projects, an archery arm guard. Since then, I've moved on to a much more complicated project, the Hip Quiver. Below is the step by step process, though it's not quite a tutorial, you'll get a good idea of what goes into making something like this. Keep in mind, this is my third project. There's bound to be a few mistakes that a more experienced leather-crafter may find, and if so, please feel free to point them out. The biggest strides are made through your mistakes!
So, before we begin, let's take a quick look at my work station. What you see here are some various tools and blades, tooling stamps, dyes, granite slab and hammer for tooling. Most of this you'll see in use.
I cut the pattern from veg tanned leather. The veg tanned leather is used for tooling and stamping. The pattern itself was taken from a Tandy Leather design.
The first thing I did was 'case' the leather. That's where you dampen the leather to make it pliable and soft for shaping and tooling.
The leather soaks up the water and takes on a darker tone (left). As the water soaks into the leather the tone comes back to it's natural state.
With the leather cool to the touch it's ready to add the design. With a pattern I created and a stylus I trace over the lines leaving an impression in the damp leather.
With the pattern 'impressed' into the leather, you polish your swivel knife...
...and begin cutting into the leather. Working with the swivel knife take a bit of practice. My initial attempts were pretty dismal but keeping at it, it didn't take too long to get the hang of working with the tool. By long I mean cutting though a lot of leather scraps to get the control of the knife.
With the soft leather, the swivel knife just slides through it like butter. I continued cutting though the initial impressions until I was satisfied.
I next added some textured stamping around the borders. Stamping is another element that takes a little while to get the hang of. I thought I took pictures of the process but apparently I didn't. You take a stamping tool, place it on the leather and give it a whack with the hammer. With textures and bevels the trick is to get smooth transitions by 'walking' the tool as you hit it. THAT took a while to get some control over.
With the cutting and stamping completed, I let the leather dry around a tube to give it the shape I needed.
The next step was to begin dying the leather. I gave the quiver a natural brown coat the dyed the borders in black. You'll notice I also punched some holes for the stitching as well as some decorative studs to be added later.
Some of the elements, such as the cut out owl and the vines had to be dyed using a brush.
At this point I also created the belt loop with the same methods I mentioned above. All holes punched as well.
With all the dying finished, I applied a finishing coat. I had a little problem with the two layers of dye (black on brown) rubbing off so I'm not sure about how best to apply the dye in the manner I was going for. This will need a little more research on my part.
I began adding the various pieces of hardware.
With all that completed, I began the process of stitching it all together. The plan was to stitch the belt loop portion onto the quiver itself but I ran into some problems with that. I don't have a picture of the mess that created, sorry about that.
So I ended up using studs to connect the two pieces together. So some of the stitching is more decorative and less functional than I had planned. I'm still satisfied with going this route.
So finally I added the base with a small block of wood and a piece of leather, both of which I dyed the interior color (mahogany).
I then tacked the leather and wood base to the bottom of the quiver and that pretty much wrapped it up.
Below are the finished pictures.
Overall I'm pretty happy with the way this turned out. There are a few 'errors', if you want to call them that, with some of the stitching and I'll alter my technique on future projects. That mostly involved tying off the threads. The pattern itself turns out to be a bit bulky for my taste and I would end up 'slimming' this down if I were ever to make another hip quiver like this. It was a pretty big project and took a bit longer that I had anticipated but a great learning process as well. Though I'm happy with the way the dye job came out it's not 100% what I was going for. I'll have to do a little more research and experiments on adding multiple coats of different color dye - maybe that's not the best way to do that, but we'll see. I have some ideas on how to improve what I did here.
I'll be testing the quiver and arm guard out this weekend, putting it through actual use.