Thursday, January 9, 2014

Book Review : Beautiful Leather Jewelry

By on Thursday, January 09, 2014 10 Comments

Prehistoric people learned to make use of animal hides for many useful and decorative purposes. Leather jewelry has never gone out of style ever since. Artisans keep coming up with new ways of working with this warm, organic material.

Melissa Cable's new book, Beautiful Leather Jewelry, which I received for review, features 25 outstanding leather jewelry project tutorials. Her creativity is inspiring!  The book is also a thorough guide on the different types of leather, tools and techniques needed to create contemporary designs.

The author understands it takes time to build up a collection of tools needed for innovative leather jewelry making so she included alternatives. Many of the tools needed to create and embellish leather jewelry are common to basic jewelry making, metal work and sewing.  She also goes over other tools which are specific for leather work. A tube wringer works just as well on leather as metal.   I didn't know there were such things as a licorice leather cutter (makes straight cuts) or a multi-blade scissors for making tassels or fringes!

Where the book really shines is the coverage of what to use and how to dye and color leather.  What you use depends on the type of leather.  Some of the projects use tooling leather which is vegetable tanned leather.  One excellent example is the Dapped Leather band design below which has been shaped.  Tooling leather is very versatile as it can take embossing, stamping and forming when wet.

The projects are easy to follow with many tips and tricks.  Many also include other materials like metal, faux bone, felt, wood and crystals in wonderfully creative ways.

Chrome tanned leather is the most commonly encountered kind of leather. It is used in the fashion and upholstery industries.  This leather is more supple than tooled leather but is not easily shaped nor can you stamp or carve on it.  However, the book does include many innovative projects using this type of leather.  The Matrix leather bracelet uses  flat leather straps while the Crystal Cavern bracelet is a clever way to adorn a hollow licorice leather strip.

One of my favorite projects from the book is the Her Bubbly Personality necklace below which also uses fashion or upholstery leather.

The last section in the book covers how to make  different kinds of leather beads - round balls, leather wrapped wood beads, spools as well as cylindrical beads in this striking vertical bead necklace design :

This book is best suited to those who love working with leather and have a liking for artistic embellishments.  It also serves as an eye-opener to the wonders of leather jewelry making for those not yet charmed by this discipline.


Before You Go:
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 



  1. This book looks great. Thanks for the review. I'm hoping to get this book soon.

    1. I am positive you will learn lots and be inspired by it!

  2. It is great - I never knew leather could be worked on in so many different ways!

  3. all the projects..I have tried a lot of different techniques with leather but there is so much more

    1. Yes, I was just astounded by how much more there could be. The examples here are just a tantalizing selection!

  4. WOW! The Matrix bracelet is really cool! I want to make something like that.

  5. Your review took me back to the days when my parents worked on furs and leather Pearl! I can even smell the tanned products if I think about it. There were certainly a large array of them! I remember my father fixing the tumbling mats we used at school - remember those big old pale gray things with the buttons? Great review covers more than one area of expertise! Leather is a beautiful medium!

  6. I've been looking a little at that book ever since I saw an ad for it. Either for my own bookshelf or my sis' as she's even more fond of leather than I am.

    The only thing I would've liked to see, but didn't, when reading the Amazon preview was some mention of how "ungreen" chrome tanned leather is compared to veg tanned (which use e.g. oak bark instead of the heavy metal). It's a concern for many, either from a personal health perspective or a wider concern for the environment.

  7. Maneki - reviews can't cover everything. The author did include a section about the debate surrounding chrome tanned leather which is practically most of the leather in the world. The majority of tanning houses now use chromium III which is less toxic than the previously used chromium VI. There are still health and environmental concerns with the use. Even vegetable tanned leather can be polluting.

    Perhaps the tanning industry needs to modify their processes so they do not pollute. Did you know the old way of tanning used urine?

    I strongly recommend recycling old leather - from handbags, belts and even shoes.