Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tack Tips--Inlaid hearts

Happy Valentines Day!

Today's Tack Tip is for everyone who's ever wanted a pink heart saddle even if it might land them on the Tacky Tack blog!This is a surprisingly easy effect to produce in miniature. You will need the usual tackmaking tools and supplies plus a rotary leather punch and two types of leather--lightweight tooling calf and some variety of colored leather.

As always, I start out by preparing my leather. This project works best when the tooling calf is very, very thin so that means a lot of skiving.Once I've achieved roughly the desired thickness, I ditch the knife and go in with sandpaper. I tend to alternate between sanding and treating with gum tragacanth until I have a smooth, even surface. Next, I flip the leather back onto its grain side. Using a clean paintbrush, I wet the leather... and lightly tool a heart into its still damp surface. I used the tip of my awl to do this. Here's my "secret weapon" for creating the round tops of the heart.
I choose the punch size that most closely corresponds to my tooled heart and then I carefully punch out the tops. I want to make sure I'm punching through the leather rather than twisting and tearing. Still, despite my best efforts, some fuzzies are inevitable.
Using a sharp X-acto knife I cut out the bottom section of the heart. The heart on the left has been punched and cut but not cleaned up. To make it look more like the hearts on the right, I will carefully trim the fuzzies with my X-acto knife and treat all the interior edges with gum tragacanth. I don't rush through this stage. The cleaner and smoother the inside edges, the better the finished product will look. The last step is to glue the tooling leather over the colored leather. I am mindful not to let any glue ooze out and ruin the clean and polished look I've been working towards.And that's it--hope your Valentines Day is a good one!


  1. A fun trick I've used is to paint skiver with brightly colored acrylic craft paint, and stuff it in that cut out. I just put a little clearcoat on the surface after it's glued into the cutout. Super easy and fun for that 4-Her in the stable!

  2. Too cute of an idea! Perfect for Valentine's.