Several years ago I made a leather bottle and used a cork as a stopper. A very good friend of mine informed me, you do Not use a cork in a leather bottle. Since that time I have always carved a leather stopper for any bottle I made. Recently, I made a bottle and carved a celtic design on it. At first, I made the leather up for a generic stopper ,then I thought why not make a celtic cross stopper?
Step 1: Leather Bottle Stopper for a Leather Bottle
Tools and Materials
6/8 inch hole punch
#889 sharp angled beveler
Sharp angled beveler( I have a Barry King)
#104 background tool
Breakaway knife or sharp carving knife
Dremel or sand paper
Water and sponge
White craft glue
Unstoppered leather bottle
5/6 or 7/8 ounce veg tanned leather 4 strips 3 inches by 4 inches
Antiqe of choice
Tan coat or finisher of choice
Step 2: Leather Bottle Stopper for a Leather Bottle
Decide on your design and transfer it to the tracing film. Do NOT use ball point pen on the transfer film, I did that so the design would show up in the picture. If you get ink on the leather, it will not come off.
Dampen your leather, do not soak it. When the leather returns close to its normal color, trace your design on the leather using the stylus. You will need 2 pieces of carved leather. After tracing the design, turn the pattern over to get a reverse tracing for the second piece.
Step 3: Leather Bottle Stopper for a Leather Bottle
Use the swivel knife to cut the lines on your pattern. Apparently, I failed to get a picture of the swivel knife step) Bevel the cut lines of the design. Use the larger beveler for the longer lines, and the small beveler for many of the inside lines on the head of the cross.
The beveling on the outside lines is primarily to make the cutting out of the design easier.
Use the backgrounder to depress the inside areas of the cross and the small squares.
Step 4: Leather Bottle Stopper for a Leather Bottle
Using the breakaway knife, cut both crosses out. Punch the holes in one of the crosses. Place the 2 carved crosses, carved sides together. This puts them in a mirror position. Mark the holes with a pen to be sure they line up, then punch the holes in the second cross.
Step 5: Leather Bottle Stopper for a Leather Bottle
Trace each cross, face up, on another piece of leather. Mark them 1 and 2 so you will be able to match them up. Cut them out, slightly over sized. They can be trimmed up later. Sand the shiny side on the uncarved pieces of the leather. This gives the glue something to grab better.
Step 6: Leather Bottle Stopper for a Leather Bottle
Spread glue on the back side of the carved pieces and on one side of the untooled pieces. Match the respective pieces to each other. Let the glue dry well (1-2 hours) I weight them down with something heavy to keep them flat.
After they are dry, repunch the holes. I found that it was a good idea to also punch the holes from the back side. I took the modeling tool or something with a small enough diameter to fit in the holes and compress and smooth the holes. It is easier to do now than after the 4 pieces are together.
Spread the glue on the back sides of the 2 pieces. Line the 2 pieces up as close as possible and glue them together. Let dry about an hour, adding the weight again to keeping it flat.
Step 7: Leather Bottle Stopper for a Leather Bottle
Check to see if you have enough mass to to leave enough leather for the plug to fill the opening of the bottle.
If more is needed add more layers of leather. Mine was border line,so I added an additional piece on either side of the lower portion of the piece. It is always better to have too much than not enough. We will be carving a lot of the leather off.
Step 8: Leather Bottle Stopper for a Leather Bottle
Knives are sharp, use with care. Carving goes much easier if the knife is very sharp and I do sharpen the knife throughout the carving time. If using breakaway knives, just snap off the old blade. I do use the breakaway knife and I do sharpen them(sometimes my husband helps).
The opening in this bottle is more ovoid than round. Start by off the hard edges at an angle. Work all around the stopper. Most of the top layer of leather on each side will be removed.
As the stopper gets closer to the right size, check it with the bottle to see where you need to take more material off.
When it fits snugly, take the dremal or sandpaper and level and smooth out the stopper. Also, touch up any areas of the cross. Take a damp sponge and smooth out the rough areas, This will compress the leather.
Step 9: Leather Bottle Stopper for a Leather Bottle
I used a mixture of british tan and mahogany antiques with wesson oil. Apply with a sponge and rub in well.
With a small, paint the background ares with black dye. After dry, apply a finish coat, I use tan coat.
This particular stopper came out darker than I wanted for this bottle. It just did not blend in well. I have made another stopper that fortunately was a more appropriate color. This technique can be used for any size or shape of a leather stopper.
This project is moderately difficult and takes some time. It is inexpensive because scrap leather can be used.