Fresh Baked Designs

Adventures in jewelry making

More Leather Lessons… October 11, 2017

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 11:39 am

Hello!  I’m having more fun learning how to work with leather and really appreciate the comments and suggestions from those of you have more experience than I do…please keep them coming!


First, I’m becoming more sensitive to the workings of how much pressure to use in the rolling mill to get a nice deep impression on these leather straps.  Not too light and not so hard that I destroy the plastic embossing plates.  Also, I experimented with a piece of file folder with the plates to see if I could continue a pattern along a strip of leather without getting empty spaces or a demarcation line from the plate’s edge.  Hmmm…still working on consistency in this.  Suggestions?  I was wondering if the small pasta machine that I use with the poly clay work would also do the trick.  Then, I wouldn’t need to wait to use the rolling mill in my metal’s class on Tuesday nights.  I’ll let you know how that goes…


leather 4


Next…a nice finish to the leather is achieved by application (sometimes, multiple applications) of my old friend, Renaissance Wax.  The wax was applied to the edges as well. After drying and buffing with an old terry cloth rag, it not only provides protection, but a nice soft sheen. The edges also had a more finished look that I liked.  Also noticed that an extra application in spots can even out some color variations.  The application will darken the leather a bit.  These pre-made straps come as unfinished tooling leather…pretty light in color.  My new best friend, Mr. Ray, told me to just leaving them out in the sun to naturally darken them.  It did this for a few days, then the Ren Wax did the rest of the work to give the leather color I wanted.

Last lesson for today…I tried rounding the ends of some bracelet straps.  A work in progress…after trimming the corners with scissors, I tried using a rasp file and smoothing out the edges.  This seemed to work okay.  I then, rubbed some of the wax on the edges to finish them off and color-blend with the rest of the bracelet .

Trying out some button closures, too.  Always adding a few drops of hypo-cement to any knots for extra security.  This brass button was fancied up with some metal paint patina.  Cute!


leather 2


leather 3


Leather 1



Leather Lessons October 4, 2017

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 1:30 pm

Lesson one…working with leather is not going to be quick and easy.  I really didn’t think it would be, but I can always hope.  I’ve mangled a few embossing folders and scrap pieces of leather experimenting with how much pressure to use in the rolling mill.

Exhibit A



I do love the texture and it has stayed put.  Some have told me that this embossing technique would only work with untreated leather…that it would ‘bounce back’ after a few days.  I think I can still use parts of this piece for earrings.  I saved you from seeing the truly mangled embossing plate.  It went right in the trash.


Lesson two…Leather is totally fun to play with!  Being so cheap using these scraps, I’m not a nervous wreck to try out stuff or afraid of ruining it, because I no doubt will have more failures. And failures mean more lessons to learn.  Right?

This bracelet isn’t what I’d expected, but I love it.  The impression is too light…again learning to use the rolling mill. It was a thicker piece of leather and a ready-made bracelet for a $1.50.  Mr. Ray had a basket of them by the checkout counter.  May need to go get some more of these babies.  The metal hole punch worked pretty well. I just stretched the holes a bit with an awl to accommodate the leather cord.  Tied on this purchased bracelet bar and added some drops of hypo-cement for security.  Ready to wear.

            In fact, it’s a keeper!  On my wrist right now.


Exhibit B

it is well 2

it is well bracelet


P.S.  Love this phrase…It is well with my soul…  From an old, beloved hymn written by Horatio Spafford, who was intimately acquainted with tears and tragedy.




A big leap…into leather! September 24, 2017

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 3:03 pm

In the last post, I was super excited to find out (a bit belatedly) that you can indeed use paper embossing folders on copper sheet metal.  And get great impressions.  People are doing all kinds of non-scrapbooking things with those things.  Polymer clay, metal, and leather.

Which brings me to today.  I really, really wanted to try out leather to use in bracelets and components.  And while Lima Beads and others have great leather selections, I was more interested in getting my hands on leather scraps to play around with first.

Google is my friend.  “Scrap leather nearby”

Who knew that a terrific leather supply store was just about three miles from my house!  Located in a small industrial building area, it’s been there about 15 years, after moving from downtown.  Mr. Ray not only repairs leather goods and sells everything a leather related, he has an awesomely large collection of Breyer horses for sale.  And big bins of scrap leather in all sizes, thickness, and colors.  Way cool!  Mr. Ray is turning 80 and is full of stories about the leather industry and so helpful with my questions. While I was there, a young man came in holding two pieces of black leather and wanted to know if he could sew them together.  Mr. Ray told him, “Of course”.  Then, took him back to his workshop table and spent time giving him sewing lessons, so that he would be comfortable doing this when he got home.  Lovely man.

This is what I picked out to start my leather adventures…It was $10 per pound, so this cost me about $3.50.  I also bought 15 yards of leather and suede lace for about 50 cents a yard.

Isn’t that fuchsia color gorgeous?

leather scraps


I’m planning on taking this pile of goodies to class Tuesday night and experimenting with the embossing plates and the rolling mill.  But in the meantime, I just couldn’t stand not trying out some feather earrings and stamping.  I have a bit to learn about the force needed for a good impression, but I’m pleased with this first try.


leather feathers-2


Hoping I’ll have more to share in a week or two.  I learned you can use alcohol inks, paints, dyes, stains and other cool ways to embellish leather.  I also found a pattern for making luggage tags.  These would be fun to personalize for Christmas gifts, wouldn’t they?





Pleasantly surprised! September 20, 2017

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 2:14 pm

So a brand new Tuesday Morning store opened up in my neighborhood recently. If you aren’t familiar with this franchise, it’s a bit like a Ross or Marshall’s but more focused on home, bedding, and kitchen goods…but with some occasional great deals on jewelry makings, like beads, findings, chain, tools, etc…

On my second visit, I was checking out the craft section for any little fun finds when I spied a rack of embossing folders used for paper crafts.  99 cents each! Now, I have neither an embossing machine nor do paper crafting, but I wondered if these could work with copper sheet metal and a rolling mill??  I bought two at that price to take to class last night and try them out.  Bees and Flower designs.

They worked beautifully!  Nice deep two sided impressions.  In fact, for the one I probably used too much pressure and the plastic embossing folder curled a bit.  I’m pretty sure it can be used again…the raised designs were also not smashed or flattened any in the rolling mill.  A very good sign that these can be used multiple times.

You can see that the one on the left is curled. I’m wondering if I can ‘uncurl’ it by running it through the rolling mill again upside down (reverse side first)?  We’ll see.

Any of you have success or something to share about your experiences with these embossing folders in non-traditional ways??  Love to hear from you!



embossing copper



embossing folders


After embossing the metal, I die cut large rounds from the flowered sheet. Filed/smoothed the edges, drilled holes, oxidized in LOS, scrubbed with wet/dry sandpaper, domed, polished, and sealed.  Ready to use in earrings!

You can see the three pairs from the embossed copper.  Also one with small rectangles that I heat patinated with a torch.  Such lovely deep impressions!  They would probably be awesome with some alcohol inks or patina paints.  Hmmm…


embossed copper

These will be offered for sale in October at a church mission fair.  All sales donated to the mission fund.  Also for sale…eight of my favorite bracelets with leather, metal buttons, and Krobo recycled glass beads I bring home from Ghana.  Bracelet love.


Ghana bead bracelets





Comforting work… September 12, 2017

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 4:02 pm

My heart aches with the events of recent days…displaced persons, loss of life, destruction from flood and hurricanes and earthquakes and fires. And then, the anniversary of 9/11. It feels like too much to bear, doesn’t it? But I dare not turn away. It would not honor those who are suffering and those who are helping. So I pray and send what I can. And look for ways to help those around that I can touch, taking encouragement from all the wise people who are writing and reminding us to be kind to each other.

 Every act of kindness and humanity helps.

It also helps to take a little time to do what I love…mess around, try new things, and make some jewelry. Taking a break from the world. Replenishing, refreshing, relaxing.

Here are a few pair of earrings after trying out some new Vintaj patina paints and alcohol inks on brass, copper, and base metal.  Added bits and bobs of beads and ear wires.  Only four, but it feels nice to accomplish and make something with my hands.


painted turq. leaves


painted palm leaves



painted discs



painted leaves


What are you doing to help yourself through these tough times?  And if any of you kind readers are in the midst of these disasters, I am truly sorry and pray that you and your loved ones are safe and sheltered.



Late night addition of this altered brass dragonfly component…using metal patina paints, epoxied jewels, and a bit of a tweak of the wings for added dimension.


altered dragonfly 1


altered dragonfly 2






Itchy fingers… August 27, 2017

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 11:24 am

So, I just could keep my hands off of the butterfly necklace.  While I loved the utter simplicity of the necklace, my eyes just kept going back to the pairs of brass earrings with the milky glow of opalite beads.

I had just enough of the rice shaped beads to add so the neck chain.  More accurately, I replaced some of the chain with the linked beads to keep the length at 18 inches.



brass butterfly and opale


There, now I can sleep.


Back at it… August 25, 2017

Filed under: Archives — Fresh Baked Designs @ 11:37 am

I really, really, needed to get back to making some jewelry.  Especially for the Upper Hand shop.  My display was looking sad.  First up was turning the jewelry board into a wall display by covering some ceiling tile with a pretty clean off white linen.  Fresh and eye-level is good.

Then, the harder part…picking up the tools and getting to work.  My bench space was so messy that I by-passed it completely and just plopped down cross-legged on the floor with chains, wire, component and bead boxes spread out around me.  (I paid the price later with aching hips!) Lots of brass this time.  With turquoise howlite, opalite, Czech glass, and caribou horn (I think).  Oh, and a clearance rack surprise at Michael’s of five, sweet, brass leaf connectors. Simple, casual, and classy necklaces and earrings.  Perfect for Fall or anytime of the year in my opinion.


brass and leaves 2-2


brass and leaves


rose and pearls 2


rose and pearls


brass and opalite


This last necklace is my favorite of yesterday’s makings.  The focal is from Lima Beads…they have amazing brass components.  Also purchased the tiny dragonflies and leaves in the earrings shown above.

I did tweak the butterfly a bit.  Polished with some fine grade wet/dry sand paper to bring out the highlights.  I actually do this on most brass that has any relief designs.  It arrived with only one hole on the left wing, so I gave it another one on the right to give it a ‘straight at you’ look.


brass butterfly


I’m feeling better about having something new to share with clients soon!