Leather Tips and Tricks

Are you new to the world of leather jewelry making? Please read below for some insider information before you start working. Working with a natural product like leather can be a bit tricky if you are not used to its properties.


Cutting

Inspect the leather before cutting. It may have a join or imperfection that you need to cut around, so please allow for this when you plan out your bracelets.

You do not want to squish the leather when it is cut. If it is squished out of shape, then it will not fill out the clasp, and it will not stay glued. For a clean and straight cut, you need to use a very sharp and strong tool. We recommend our cutters as opposed to a wire cutter or box cutter. They cut through the leather like butter and do not squish it out of shape. It is also much safer than trying to saw through the leather with a craft knife.

Remember—measure twice, cut once!


Sizing

We work on the average bracelet size of 7 inches. However you may find that you wish to stock a variety of sizes, or to size each bracelet to the customer. This can be especially helpful with certain clasps, which hold their closure best if the bracelet is snug on the wrist. If you sell at craft fairs, you can always cut the bracelet to be on the larger size, and only glue one end of the closure. Then you can trim it to fit the customer and glue it when they buy it. They will appreciate that personalized touch!

Certain clasps require a length that can be a little tricky to figure out at first, such as the L-CL-24 (horseshoe clasp) or the half-cuff clasps. We recommend you insert one leather end and wrap the leather around the closure to estimate the length you need, then trim as needed until it is perfect.

Whatever you do, do not glue anything until you have checked the size!

The chart below is a basic guideline for average bracelet sizes and are approximate measurements.  When determining the size of your bracelet, you should take into account the length of the clasp you are using, as some clasps are longer than others.  


Gluing

We recommend a strong, fast-drying superglue that bonds both porous and non-porous materials. The Super New Glue that we stock is the best we have found, but if you are in a pinch and need to pick something up at the store, another super glue, such as Loctite, may work. We do NOT recommend an epoxy or E6000, they are very difficult to work with in this type of application, and do not hold as well because they take longer to dry. The leather may pop out of the clasp or become slightly dislodged while it dries, and you end up with a crooked bracelet.

You only need enough glue to wet the area that is to be adhered. Put a drop or two of super glue into the clasp (metal part) and then insert the leather. If you put it on the leather first, it will start to absorb and there will not be enough to latch on to the metal. To check, you can quickly pull the leather back out and ensure that it is wet around the area in contact with the metal. The glue sets up very fast so you will need to check and reinsert it very quickly.

We do not sell or know of any solvent that will remove the glue. Be careful! Check everything on your bracelet before you glue it, and immediately wipe any excess glue off of the bracelet or your fingers before it can dry.


Variations

The leather may vary in size, even on the same spool. This is due to natural differences in the hides that cause it to react in different ways during the tanning and dyeing process. Please understand that this is something we cannot fully control, and you will need to take these sizing differences into account during your creation process. We recommend having a variety of leather colors, sliders, and beads so that you can determine which pieces fit best together. Some sliders and clasps will fit better on a thicker cut of leather, while others work best with smaller cuts.

To help a thick piece of leather fit into a clasp, you can squeeze around the end of it with a pair of flat-nosed pliers to lightly compress the leather. This should give it just enough room to fit into the clasp.

If that does not work, or if you prefer, you can shave a bit of leather off with an x-acto knife. Please be careful! You must leave a square end if you do this. Your goal is to just remove a bit of thickness around the entire width of the bottom, and not to whittle it to a point. If the bottom is not left flat and square, it will not fit in to the clasp properly and the glue will not hold it.


Metal Components

All of the leather components are made in molds, then tumbled and coated in their finishes. Occasionally a piece may not come out of the mold cleanly, and there may be metal missing. If we do not catch this before you receive it, please let us know! Please keep in mind that these components are hand-made in artisan factories, and therefore the finish may not be as flawless as mass-produced pieces. Some seams or evidence of the mold process are to be expected, and are part of the charm of handmade items.

The components are tumbled with small white or grey ceramic pieces. These may occasionally become lodged in the opening of the clasp or spacer. They can be easily removed with pliers. If you see these pieces in your metal component, please know that it is NOT a piece of “leftover leather from a return” and it is not a defect. If you cannot remove the pieces, please let us know.


Designing

We field a lot of questions about what pieces people should buy. This is entirely up to you! You know your customer base and your own personal design aesthetic much better than we do. The "best" pieces and colors to buy are simply the ones that you like best. The only advice we can offer is that neutrals always sell well, and buyers generally prefer symmetrical designs. It's not the best idea to throw 5 completely different sliders onto a bracelet and call it a day. Typically, the Regaliz® style bracelets are designed with a larger focal bead and a few smaller sliders and o-rings around it. However, the sky is the limit with our leather bracelets—there is an infinite number of styles combinations possible with our vast line, so use your imagination and come up with something you love.


Magnetic Closures

Clasps that close with magnets are our most popular, as they are easy to take on and off. However, like all magnetic jewelry, it is possible for the magnets to come unglued over time. The magnets are very strong and constantly pull at the glue bond when the clasp is opened and closed. Should a magnet fall out, it is usually stuck to the other side and is easy to glue back in. Make sure you are gluing the correct polarity down! Otherwise the magnets will repel and the clasp will not work again.

The first time a person tries to undo a magnetic clasp, they may have trouble. There is a slight knack to it. With the thumb, hold the bottom part of the clasp down. Use the other fingers to pull the top of the clasp off at an angle. It is a twisting motion and not a direct pull upward.

You may find that a freshly made bracelet does not want to stay closed. This is because the leather is trying to straighten out, and it is putting too much torque on the clasp. Gently fold and squeeze the bracelet into the rounded bracelet shape. Once the leather has softened up into the leather shape, it will not pull on the clasp as much.

Additionally, a very small bracelet will put a lot of torque on a large clasp. It is not a good idea to use a long clasp on a short bracelet.

Keeping sliders in place

Sometimes a slider may be a little loose on the leather. There are a few approaches to dealing with this:

  1. Glue the slider to the leather. We do not recommend this, as it may become unglued over time and the glue spot will pull up the dye from the leather. However we have many customers who always glue their sliders, so it is up to you.
  2. Use o-rings. This is our preferred method, as it adds an extra pop of color and is a practical way to hold your sliders in place. It also helps space our your sliders, if you have one that is trying to push under another one.
  3. Use smaller sliders to hold loose ones in place. You may find some tight-fitting sliders that you can use as the end pieces in your design, and these will keep any wayward sliders in place.
  4. Push small sliders under taller ones. If you have a slider that is popping up, try putting a smaller one on either side of it and pushing them under the slider. You can see examples of this here and here.