Leatherworking with Phil at Finley Farms

SLC and Mr. Phil Hedlund are teaming up! We met Phil awhile back and decided to help supply some of the materials needed for his upcoming leatherwork class at the Ozark Mill Finley Farms.

In this class, on December 20th at 6:30pm, Leatherworker Phil Hedlund will take you through the steps of crafting a leather key chain from a natural leather. He will introduce you to the basic tools you need to begin your leatherworking craft and explain the characteristics of working with different types of leather. Conquer your tools with ease with the guidance of Phil Hedlund and go home with a customized accessory or a thoughtful gift for someone special this holiday season!

SLC and Phil are also working together to create a new YouTube video series. This series will highlight the creation of high-end leather products and how they are built by Phil himself! We’re very excited to work with Phil and have some fun while sharing the experience with all of you! Be sure to signup soon for his class- spots are limited and selling fast! You can sign up by clicking HERE!

Getting Started with Denny

We’ve told you before that Denny teaches short classes on Friday mornings for the members of our staff that don’t get to make cool leather products daily. A few weeks ago, he taught some members of our marketing and e-commerce team how to make their first stamped projects. Today, we present to you this simple craft that Denny was able to teach several rambunctious ladies in about 45 minutes. 

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The craft in question are coasters made with just a few simple stamps and pre-cut circles. The student pictured went off-book and used a tap-off pattern, which you can read all about in this blog post


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What You’ll Need: 


The Process

This project is simple! You can have your first stamped coaster complete in a matter of minutes. 

Step 1 – Wet the Leather 

How much water to use is just one of those things you have to try out for yourself, but less is more in the beginning. We recommend using a spray bottle to get even and light coverage. Try a little water, wait a few minutes and see if the leather is soft enough to make an easy impression – if you have scrap leather of a similar weight, it should work well for testing. 

Step 2 – Set the stage 

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Use winged dividers or a compass to create a line around the perimeter of the circle. Make this circle go in as far as you’d like – we stuck to about 1/4″. 

Then, place your ruler in the center of the circle. Use your ball point stylus to make a light impression down the center of the circle from one end of your newly marked circle to about ¾ of the way down. If you end up taking the line all the way to the end, it shouldn’t make a big difference as it’ll be covered up in subsequent steps. 

Step 3 – Stamp away 

Grab a patterned stamping tool of your choice and start somewhere near the center of your circle taking care to align your tool with the center line. Use this tool repeatedly to obtain the desired pattern. Test this out on a scrap piece of leather if you have one! It’ll help you get the alignment right and help you with things like a basket weave tool which requires rotation. 

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Denny is breaking the rules here and starting near the edge, but he’s an expert and knows how far to keep it away from the edge. You are free to try this method too, we just don’t recommend it for your first time. 

Repeat your stamping steps and lean your tool to the side when you get near edges to get a faded effect. You want to leave some space between the ends of your stamping and the line you made with your winged divider in step two. This will allow your border tool to make clean impressions that won’t cover all of your awesome stamping work. 

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Here is one of Denny’s coasters. Notice how the faded-out the edges of his design allowed the border stamp to come in seamlessly. 

It doesn’t totally ruin it if you go to close to the edge but it looks a lot cleaner to fade the edges out.

Step 4 – Decorate that borderline 

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Here’s one a class member made. Inconsistent spacing and running over the original stamped design because it was brought all the way to the edge.

Take your camouflage or border stamping tool and line it up with the guide you created in step two with the winged divider. Repeat the pattern along the edge until it’s complete. You may want to practice how you will line these stamps up as that can get a little messy too – check out the image above to see what we mean. 

Step 5 – Have fun with it! 

You can leave the coasters as they are and allow the environment to have its way with your work or you can color/seal it. We didn’t do the coloring and sealing in the class, but that doesn’t mean we can’t tell you how. 😉 

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We recommend using dye or antique paste if you’re going for a uniform and classic look. For those of you who want a bit more color and design, we recommend using some paint like Angelus acrylic paint

You can use any finisher you prefer, but we recommend Master’s Quick Shine – it has a glossy, long-lasting finish that dries quickly and won’t bulk up your project. 

Step 6 – Bask your own glory

For you are done! It may not look perfect, but it was made by you and we’re sure there are plenty of cups that would be honored to rest upon your coaster, even if it looks like this…

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We hope you enjoyed that simple little lesson. We sure did! We love learning at SLC and there is always something new to pick up. If you have any tips, tricks or suggestions to add, feel free to let us know! Did you try this project? Please do show us here on Tumblr or share it with us on Facebook and/or Instagram. Until next time! 

Tours at SLC

Tours are just one of the ways we like to connect with our customers. Leather is a niche industry and every business does things differently. Our tours allow us to show customers our dedicated staff and all of the changes we are making to our work space. As the traveling season is winding down, we wanted to give those who are far away a chance to see the store. We missed a few spots, but we hope you’ll get to see those parts for yourself when you come visit! 

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Check out the live tour on Facebook!  

Kevin & His Craft Deerskins


Stories have been a part of SLC since the beginning. Heck, we even named our blog after one of Kevin’s favorite pass times. Today, we bring you a story that’s full of passion, determination, and ingenuity with results so miraculous, there’s no way it could have ever happened. Join us for a narrative about a man named Kevin, his arrows, and an absurd amount of deer. 

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Hey, Kevin! What’s up with all these holes in the deerskins? The skins are pretty nice, but how’d the scratches, holes, and tears get in there?

Kevin was hoping to keep this a secret, but since you asked- he’s decided to share the story, an absurdly fictitious and completely untrue story. A very embarrassing tale of a man who really wanted to try his hand at bow hunting one deer season. You see, Kevin is normally a rifle hunter. But this time he wanted to really get down to basic hunting roots. For we all know the hunter with a bow is the real hunter.

For years, Kevin has relied on his tried and true 30-06 to help him get the best buck around. But, as we said, this year he wanted to try the bow approach.

Let’s all get in the scene- it’s early morning right at day break. The air is crisp and there’s just enough chill to remind you winter is coming. Which is also why we hear so much bleating from does and grunts from those prize-sized bucks. Kevin has selected his favorite blind, at the tip top of the highest peak overlooking a large hay field below.

Kevin’s been patiently waiting for his buck to show himself. It’s getting to be lunch time and he’s hoping the deer can’t hear his stomach growling over the slight rustle of leaves slowly falling to the ground.

He decides it’s time to go in for a quick warm up with his wife’s tasty chili, but then he sees it. He sees the culmination of all deer, the granddaddy of them all, the prize he’s been waiting for all morning: the 37 point buck he’s eyed all fall is right at the end of the hill. About 35 yards away.

Rats! He thinks to himself. He knows if he is going to drop this deer with an arrow he has to be closer.

As we know, Kevin is a somewhat crafty man and never lacking in ingenuity. He has a brilliant(?)…flash! He’s brought way too many arrows with him. There’s a large sinkhole not far from the base of the hill.

Perfect for a punji pit! What’s that you ask? Stay tuned and you’ll see.

Kevin scrabbles down the hill without a sound, and surveys the sinkhole.

Then he begins his task of creating a large punji pit with all his arrows… well all but one. He starts crafting the pit by sticking the arrows, pointy part up towards the sky, in the bottom of the pit. He finishes and looks over to check on his prize buck, who’s still lazily grazing in the afternoon sun.

Kevin takes his one arrow left over and lines up his shot. He’s not aiming for the buck though, he’s aiming behind it. He’s hoping to startle this big guy into the pit.

He takes one long steady breath and holds it as he sends his arrow flying through the fall air. It lands perfectly just behind Mr. Big Buck. As it lands Kevin notices something he didn’t before. He’d been too focused on the buck to see the huge herd of deer in the cedar trees.

All the deer begin running towards Kevin, and his gigantic punji sinkhole. Before he can count the deer they all begin falling into the pit.

When it’s all said and done, Kevin has to drag over 200 deer out of the woods, skin them, and process the skins. What a mess! Needless to say the skins have holes, drag marks, scars, and rough areas on the grain side of the skins…but the flesh sides turned out pretty darned good!

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The details: These special purchase deerskins come in a variety of pleasing natural colors (gold, smoke, and saddle tan). The skins are pretty nice, but many have scratches, holes, and tears. But with a deeply discounted price we know you can forgive us for their less than perfect condition.

We call this craft grade, and it means it’s perfect for all you visionaries out there. You can make many items which you want to have a soft feel. Think pull-string satchels, moccasins (these won’t hold up for longtime wear, but will be very comfy), festival clothing, gloves, and wallets just to name a few.


Be sure to keep up with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest for more stories and peeks into the worldful world of leather! You can also buy from us any time at our website, SpringfieldLeather.com.

Paint, Dye or Paste?

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There are lots of ways to customize your leather with color! Some of the most popular ways to do it are painting, dyeing, and antique pasting. Of course, we’ve talked about paint, dye, and other coloring methods on the blog before but they’re not quite like this. Here, we’re bringing together just about every stitch of information on dyes, paints, stains and pastes that we have on the web! 


Dye 

Dye is a popular and permanent way to transform your leather. It is fairly easy to apply and gives a rich and even color to leather of your choosing. We have a wide array of leather dye available on our website. There is standard, low VOC dye, then there’s oil dye (Denny’s favorite) that can be mixed or thinned with oil to condition your leather while you color, there’s also suede/rough out dye that is ideal for the textured and porous surface of suedes and leather splits, and, finally, water-based dye that is safe for kids to use and not flammable. 

Note: Denny has tried using oil dye on suede and it went over terribly. 

The important thing to note about dye is that it will always make the material you started with darker. You cannot use dye in a vibrant color like green and expect it to lift the overall brightness of your piece. It will add some darkness while changing the hue. Dye is a permanent, so you want to be very careful and confident when you use it. Dye is also buildable if you thin it. Once dye is on, you can’t lighten or lift the dye as it does penetrate the fibers of your leather. However, if you’re worried that your project turned out too dark, let it dry before you chuck it in the bin! It will lighten some as it dries. 

Learn more about using dye with Rusty and Kevin below! 


Stains and Antique Paste 

Stains and antique pastes are a favorite among toolers like Denny. Antique paste and stains allow you to add depth and color to your project without drastically changing the look of your leather…unless you want to. Antique pastes and stains tend to be earth tones and reds. The color change for stains and antiques is considered permanent as the stain will penetrate the fiber of the leather. It is oftentimes used in conjunction with resist to lessen the intensity of the color and allow for easy wipe off. It is ideal for embossed and tooled leathers, but can be used on smooth surfaces just the same. The main difference between the two is the consistency, though you will also get different color results. Stains are liquids while antique pastes are, well…paste! The color of these are somewhat buildable. The longer you allow antique paste to sit and dry on your surface before you wipe it, the richer the color you get. 

Learn more about antique paste in these videos


Paint

The best paint for leather is acrylic paint. Acrylic paint comes in the widest array of colors we have available and features different finishes as well. Paint can be long-lasting but is not considered permanent like dye or stains. Paint generally will sit on the surface of your leather, but if applied correctly and given time to dry properly it can last for years to come without cracking or peeling. Paint is a popular way to transform the color of sneakers, but it is also a way to add vibrant designs to projects of any kind. In short, the best way to ensure you get the most out of your paint is to use thin coats that are allowed to completely dry between applications. Paint can be removed after it is applied, especially when wet, but that removal may prove difficult if you let it dry as it is acrylic paint. 

Watch the video below for even more useful information about using paint with Rusty! 


As you can see, there are a lot of ways to change your leather after you get it home and experimentation is key. Be sure to keep your scrap leather in times like these! If you’d like to see the videos above and maybe a few we didn’t include here, be sure to check out our Dye, Stain, Paint playlist and subscribe to our YouTube page to see new videos. If you have a specific question about paint, dye, stains or antique paste, be sure to search the blog for any of those terms, check out our Ask Kevin questions or ask your own here. Until next time! 

A Quick Word About Change

At SLC, we embrace change as much as possible – it’s what keeps us afloat in an ever-changing economy and industry. 

We have been putting more resources into our production work and, as you may already know, we’ve also acquired more space. With growing demand for production work and newfound space, we’ve decided to make some changes that we think will increase productivity and serve our customers.

We are converting a seldom-used work area into a storage facility. This will come in handy when Kevin and Rusty jump at the next great deal. 

We have moved some of our production efforts over to Research and Development. Now we have more space for clickers! And boy, we love our leather shapes. 

Denny and Clayton, from Research Development, are enjoying their expanded work areas in one of our former storage spaces. 


There are more changes on the horizon, but we thought we’d let you know more about some of the things we’ve accomplished along the way! 

A Stitch Above the Rest | An SLC Profile with Jennifer

Springfield Leather Company has a shinier, rockier side of the business that you may not know about. Years ago, Kevin and his daughter, Molly, began to sell beads and stones. The small table grew to about half the store and they dubbed it Touchstone Beads

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Jennifer, an avid beader, discovered the store and quickly went from customer, to student, to teacher. Today, Jennifer is Touchstone’s bead buying captain, master of Inventory Management and the undefeated Receiving Coordinator. 


Jennifer got her start with SLC around the mid-2000s when she came in for a seed bead weaving class with Molly. Not long after, she began teaching classes and eventually joined the SLC team full time. Eight years later, she is the receiving coordinator and inventory manager for SLC and Touchstone and she gets to buy all of the beads! 

Buying beads may be the fun part, but she says it is also her biggest challenge.   “I’m not on the floor anymore so I am not able to see when something is out. I find out when things are gone, but not when they’re getting low.” Still, she manages to stay on top of things.

 It’s bead trends, she says, that really throw her for a loop. “The challenge is keeping up with the new beads. They’re coming out with a new bead a week. It used to be like once a year. A lot of the time we don’t have new beads in stock because, I would have to order 20 colors of each new bead or more and I don’t have the room for that.”

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When she’s not buying beads, she crafts with them. Jennifer still teaches classes once a month and they are almost always involve her favorite bead of all – seed beads. Her favorite, she says, is the Netted Lace class because of its twisted configuration.

On the other hand, her least favorite is popular online. The puffy heart, which she teaches every January is open only to advanced weavers. “It’s so hard,” she says. “Every step is different and it’s a two needle, three dimensional weave. Most things you do in layers, so you do one layer and then you add on top of it. With this one, you’re making all of the layers at once while shaping it.”

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In her free time, Jennifer beads, but for her own enjoyment. 

She’s in a beading group comprised of many of her current and former students. They formed the group, she said, so that she would have a chance to bead for herself. “My friends started as my students, but I wasn’t getting a chance to bead.

We still help each other and figure things out together.

Several of my students are in my beading group and they’ve surpassed me.” 

The beading circle isn’t just about helping each other. It’s also a chance to learn a new pattern or two. Jennifer enjoys traveling for beading retreats where designers teach attendees their patterns. Her love of these trips has inspired her, along with her circle, to host one themselves. “Usually [bead societies] will have a designer come in and teach us. We were going to start a beading society but that’s complicated. We learned that if you have a good enough rapport with the designers, they will come [even if you’re not a society]. So, we’re hosting a retreat for one of the national designers.” 

Above all else, the beading circle is about having a good time. “Some people bring their knitting or crochet. One of the ladies called it her estrogen therapy. It’s just a place to hang out and bead.”


Jennifer says that the beading circle is pretty loose, but they usually come together on Saturdays. If you’re interested in joining, she says to just ask. 
You can catch Jennifer at least one Saturday a month at Touchstone. Otherwise, she’s likely to pop up somewhere around the store during the week. To find out when Jennifer or any of our wonderful staff are teaching classes, be sure to sign up for our email newsletter or like us on Facebook, where we share weekly events

#TBT – A Little Leather Company Grows (Vol. 4)

Hey folks! 

This is the final entry in our throwback catalog series. In this final edition,

Kevin and Becky are sporting new looks (again) and Kevin reflects on the year for SLC. Plus, Ed’s wild art is back with a group of men facing off against a wild raccoon. For anyone interested in some leather industry history, Kevin has provided some good information about major changes in late 2001! 

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“There’s anywhere from 12 to 13 of us that work (or at least show up) here, and it seems like we could use about another 2 or 3.” 


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View a higher resolution version of this image here.

Business grew and it keeps on growing! That 12 to 13 is now roughly 70 people and it still feels like maybe we could use another 2 or 3 to help out sometimes. Still, we wouldn’t have it any other way! 

We’ll still be here each week with something new. We’re getting back into employee profiles! We’ll see ya then! 

This Leather Collection Will Make You Money!

If you’ve ever wanted to make money with leather, but you weren’t sure how to get started, here’s your chance! SLC is proud to present Kevin’s Craft Pack! Though it seems he may have forgotten it was his idea 😀 

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Kevin took weeks to scour through the SLC inventory and find items that we have an abundance of that would be great for leather crafters of all skill levels – kids too! The best part about it all is that there are couple of items that are worth the cost of the whole darn thing! Whether you make things for fun or leather is your business, this is an excellent way to get some items that you can sell. 

Check out the video below to see some of the awesome things inside and keep scrolling for the full rundown. 

Each pack is $50 and includes a letter from Kevin and some complimentary instructions for mystery braiding, hand stitching, coin purses and more! 

Plus all of these amazing items:

• Assorted scrap (1 pound)
• Solid color lizard skin (1
• Exotic print lizard skin (1)
• Fish skin (1)
• Embossed leather (1)
• Lamb skin (2)
• Caiman tail (1)
• Exotic scrap (½ pound)
• Lace remnants (3 pounds)
• Suede scrap (2 pounds)
• Oil tan remnants (2 pounds)
• Gold chain (2 yards)
• Miscellaneous hardware (1 pound)
• Bobbins (approximately 5)
• Pony beads (3 large packs, 1 small pack)
• Round lace (1 spool)
• Suede lace (1 spool)
• Leather bracelets (3)
• #2 Belt strips, 1” (2)
• Belt buckles, 1” (5)
• Horse shapes (20)
• Horse key fobs (5)
• Key rings (5)

Grab your craft pack and show us what you got! You can send them here on Tumblr or Tweet them to us!