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ClayB

Carving Oak Leaves

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Freak mentioned a tutorial on carving oak leaves in one of his recent posts and now someone asked me where they could find it. Unfortunately, it's lost in cyber space somewhere with all the rest of the missing posts from the crash awhile ago. I still have the pictures, so I'll try and re-post it here. Remember, there are probably hundreds of different ways to carve an oak leaf. George Hurst did a book on them called The Mighty Oak, and a video. After I posted my tutorial, Kate posted one showing a different method. Then we had our first contest here on Leatherworker.net and a bunch of people showed different styles of oak leaves that they had carved. You can see all the entries here

Here's how I like to carve an oak leaf. The pattern is based on one out of George's book. Case a piece of leather, transfer the pattern onto the damp leather and then cut the outline with the swivel knife. When you get to the tips, don't connect the cuts. If you do, the tips can come loose and curl up off the leather. In most cases, you dont want that to happen.

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When I trace the pattern, I only trace one side of the center vein. Cut that side with the swivel knife, then using the cut line as a guide, try to make the other one parallel to the fist. The cuts should start out deep and fade out and get closer together towards the tip of the leaf.

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NOTE: I am going to add some tool numbers because people always ask. Don't feel like you have to run out and buy a bunch of different tools to carve a leaf. Lots of different tools can be used to do the same job. Try using what you have, you can probably make it work just fine.

Nest step is to bevel around the outline of the leaf. You can use smooth or checkered bevelers, whichever you prefer. A smaller beveler (B935 or B936) will be useful on the inside curves. For really small areas, the small figure carving bevelers (F890 and F891) might be helpful. For the longer lines, use a bigger beveler to speed things up and make for smoother beveling. oak_leaf_004__Large_.jpg

One the bottom side of the leaf I used a steep angled checkered bevelers (Hidecrafter PB011 and PB013). The steep angle of the beveler helps in areas where lines are close together so you aren't mashing down another line when you bevel. When using a regular beveler, you may need to tilt the beveler back in tight areas.

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To bevel the center vein, I like to use an angled beveler. There were 2 sizes made, B193 and B194 were the smaller version, and the B202L and B202R were the larger version. Not sure if they are both still available or not. Hidecrafter and some of the custom tool makers also make a tool that had both angles on the same tool (Hidecrafter PB016). I always have trouble telling which way the angle of the tool is going to be so I keep a scrap of leather handy to stamp it on first.

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To give shape to the inside of the leaf, I like to use a long, narrow, pointed pear shader (P368). You could also use a smooth or checkered one to get a different effect. I start with the pointed end towards the tips of the leaves. Then start to fill in between the tips with the pear shader.

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I work the pear shader around the corners leaving a ridge of leather all around to border.

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Continue shading the inside of the leaf.

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Decorative cuts finish off the inside of the leaf. You can try and make them look like the veins on a leaf, or just make a decorative cut. I have showed two different styles, neither very well done. Hey, I am still learning too!

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Background around the leaf. I have shown several different background tools and the different effects they give. A pebble backgrounder, and then a fine textured checker and a coarser texture checker.

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If there isn't a border around the carving, I like to use a matting tool to fade the background out. One of my favorites is the E294.

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Then if you want a more realistic look to your leaf, a pro petal tool can be used on the inside cuts. This tool is slid under the leather, raising these areas.

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Edited by ClayB

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Thanks for taking the time to resurrect your tutorial, Clay. It's a classic. :yes:

Best, -Alex

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Thanks for posting this, Clay. :thumbsup:

I am going to start a "Don't do this" board on my work table. And at the top of the list will be "Don't connect cuts on points" I always forget this until I do it :blush:

(#2 on list is "Don't forget to mark patterns - top and bottom) LOL

What leather weight do you usually use for your figure carving? Everything I have done has been with 3-4oz and I don't know if this makes a difference or not when it comes to carving and stamping.

Thanks again for the tutorial!

Crystal

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Glad some of you find the tutorials useful. I would have re-posted this earlier but I didnt realize it was gone. Like I said before, there are LOTS of different ways to carve an oak leaf so if anyone else has a way they like to do them, please let us see!

Crystal, my "dont do this list" could be really long. It's funny how quickly we remember that we weren't supposed to do that right after we just did it. As for weight of leather, 3-4 will work for carving, but I prefer something a little heavier. Depends on what you are making out of it. I'd maybe use 3-4 ounce on something like a checkbook cover or maybe a phone case. I'd prefer to carve on something around 6-7 ounce if it didn't interfere with the use of the project. I think I can get better depth on it without worrying about cutting or stamping through the leather. It will also still emboss pretty good and hold its shape. I have also carved pictures on heavier leather all the way up to saddle skirting. You can really get some depth in that. So really it depends mostly on what you are making out of it. Some people can carve really nice stuff on really thin leather.

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ClayB thank you for posting this. Your work is beautiful.

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Hi Clay,

Somewhat of a newbie here,

I have a question on "walking the pear shader" I noticed you have a nice thin line around the outer part of the leaf. Is this done with the heel of the tool, keeping it fairly narrow? My shade is always choppy, then I have to re-go over. Also how moist should the leather be when shading?This is a part of tooling that I am having trouble with. Any advise would be appreciated.

Thanks again for a great "how to"

Tom/Renman

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Hi Tom,

The thin line was created by keeping the shader away from the edge of the leaf, is that what you were asking? Pear shading should be done when the leather is getting drier. Paul Burnett does a series of free online lessons and the latest one is on "walking" tools. One of the previous lessons was on proper moisture content for different tools. You should check both of these out. He gives a lot of really good info in all his lessons and will probably explain it better and in a lot more detail than I can. I dont have a problem with going over an area more than one time if it is choppy, but with proper moisture, you will probably get better results the first time. It just takes a lot of practice.

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ClayB thank you for posting this. Your work is beautiful.

Thank you!!

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Clay,

I just re-read your tutorial and actually you had already answered the question, by using a thinner shader, you were able to keep the outline consitant. I guess, I should have read it more thoroughly!Thanks for the other information, I will check out P. Burnett's site.

Enjoy the weekend

Tom/Renman

Hi Tom,

The thin line was created by keeping the shader away from the edge of the leaf, is that what you were asking? Pear shading should be done when the leather is getting drier. Paul Burnett does a series of free online lessons and the latest one is on "walking" tools. One of the previous lessons was on proper moisture content for different tools. You should check both of these out. He gives a lot of really good info in all his lessons and will probably explain it better and in a lot more detail than I can. I dont have a problem with going over an area more than one time if it is choppy, but with proper moisture, you will probably get better results the first time. It just takes a lot of practice.

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thanks clay, great tutorial, the photos are first class, what camera do you use?

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Thank you sir. This was just what I was looking for.

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Thanks Caroline,

The current camera is a Konica Minolta Dimage Z6. Once in awhile I can take pretty good pictures with it. Then when I think I have it figured out, I get a bunch of bad ones. Right now it has a cloudy spot on the lense that I need to figure out how to get rid of.

Happy to be able to help you out Grumpy.

Clay

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Clay, I want to try some leaves after seeing your tutorial - just great - Does anyone know of and patterns I could find online for leaves without having to buy a book?

Thanks

Ian

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thank you very much. a good tutorial :jawdropper::jawdropper::jawdropper:

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Hi Clay. I've admired these since you first posted them way back when. What tool did you use for the background texture around the leaves?

Hilly

Hi Hilly,

I used several background tools. On one side I used the pebble background tools from Hidecrafter PA003 and PA004.

On the other side of the leaf I used an A104 (fine texture) and an A188 and A888 for the coarser texture. Glad you like the leaves.

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I APPRECIATE THE TUTORIAL.

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Hi all,

This might be a little late, but I'll give it a shot, Not sure if there's still interest in this topic or "The Mighty Oak" book by George Hurst.  I just purchased one of the last 10 books, held by Jim Linnel from https://elktracksstudio.com. signed my George himself.  Good Luck

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