Leather Poinsettia by Annie Libertini
A perfect, easy and festive project, the poinsettia ornament was created by Annie Libertini of Libertini Arts.
Her unique approach to leather carving and modeling is evident in her many works of beautiful art.
This poinsettia pattern can be used to make a beautiful molded ornament, a centerpiece for holiday decor, and even sized down for a necklace or pair of earrings.
Our steps below can be modified to fit your project needs. This is a project for all skill levels.
- Lightweight veg-tanned cowhide or goatskin leather (preferably 1-3 oz)
- Scissors or cutting blade
- Misting spray bottle
- 6" length of narrow leather lace or cording
- Beads or other embellishments for the flower center
- Glue (Fiebings Leather Cement, hot glue, etc)
- Needle and sturdy thread or (thin wire)
1) Cut out the three pattern pieces in leather. (Fig 1) On piece A you may find it easier to use a hole punch to cut the teardrop shapes near the center. The holes in piece C are there to hold the hanging loop. The dots in the centers of pieces A and B are there if you prefer to stitch the embellishments in the center instead of just gluing them.
2) Set the leather pieces grain side (smooth side) up and spray them lightly with water. Try to dampen the pieces evenly without over-wetting the leather. Let the leather pieces dry until the leather just begins to lighten up in color (it will probably take just a few minutes).
3) Use the stylus to trace the veins and leaf lines on to your leather pieces (either freehand or by laying your pattern on the leather and tracing through it.) Once you have the lines down go back over them with the stylus, pressing hard enough to leave clear marks. (Fig 2)
4) Lightly spray the grain side of the leather pieces with water again, then turn them over and spray the flesh side (rough side) also. Try to spray the pieces evenly without getting them too wet. Lay the damp leather pieces grain side up and let them dry until the leather starts lightening in color. Depending on how wet the leather is this may take anywhere from 20 min to over an hour.
5) When the leather has started to lighten up in color again it should be ready to mold. Test this by gently pinching the edge of one of your pieces - if the leather molds easily and keeps its shape it is ready. If the leather will not mold it may be too dry, and if it will mold but not keep the shape it may be too wet.
Follow these molding instructions the same for all three pieces of the poinsettia:
6) Lay the leather pieces with the grain side up and fold each 'petal' along the center vein line, like closing a book with the grain side of the leather inside. (Fig 3)
7) Using your thumbs, gently roll the edges of each 'petal' under (toward the back side). Don't worry about the edges being perfectly smooth, the ripples caused by your fingers will add realistic texture to your poinsettia. (Fig 4)
8) Gently grasp the tip of each 'petal' and pull it back into a slight curve. This will cause the edges of the petals to flatten out slightly. (Fig 5)
Allow the leather pieces to dry completely before coloring. A good way to help them keep their shape when drying is to stack the three pieces and set your poinsettia on top of a jar or cup with a diameter of about 3 inches. (Fig 6). This will help the flower not to flatten out too much and make sure all pieces fit together easily.
9) Once your leather pieces are dry, paint pieces A and B with red acrylic and piece C with dark green acrylic. The best way to get a smooth paint job is to dilute the paint a little bit with water and apply multiple thin coats. Let the paint dry completely before assembling your poinsettia.
10) Cut a small piece of cord or ribbon and thread it through the holes in piece C. Pull the ends of the cord out the back of the piece and tie them, leaving a loop large enough to hang the ornament.
11) There are so many options for finishing this poinsettia ornament - use beads, small bells, rhinestones, or another embellishment for the center. If you are using hot glue or epoxy you can glue the three leather pieces together with the 'petals' offset, then glue beads or other embellishments into the center. Roughing up the surface of the leather where the glue is going will help it stick.
If you prefer to sew the embellishment to the center of your poinsettia, use an awl or needle to poke holes where marked in the center of pieces A and B. Thread your beads or other embellishments onto sturdy thread or fine wire and tie or twist it to create a bunch, then thread the ends through the holes in pieces A and B (making sure the leather pieces line up properly).
Secure the ends on the back of piece B so that the two leather pieces and the embellishment are tightly attached, then use contact cement or hot glue to attach this to piece C. (Fig 7).