by Willow Enright
In my experience I have found that there are two types of repurposing of old items, modification and transformation. This can be for leather items, denim, wood, and anything else you can craft with, because I am a leather worker my focus will be there. Modification is taking an existing item and adding to it, without changing the basic structure. Transformation is taking your basic structure breaking it into separate elements and creating something completely new, for example taking your T-shirt and making it into a bag.
Modifying a perfectly serviceable leather item so that it can fit a specific genre or character is not only fun, but a rather easy way to get started creating your own unique pieces. This type of project requires a leather item such as boots, jacket, bag, journal, belt or other. My favorite modification, and this is one that I have done numerous times, is changing the color of my leather boots.
I have a pair of nubuck leather boots that I bought in a brown color, and then dyed them to match a blood-red armor suit, this is the Mord-Sith if you are curious. I used Angelus Scarlet red paint for the first layer and Fiebings Antique black stain to darken the red and followed it up with a Resolene to seal them. I wear them everyday and they have gone camping, hiking, and to the beach and could use a shine to clean off the dirt, but otherwise look just as great as the day I bought them.
Another time I took a second hand leather purse that my sister called “an old lady bag,” with a broken handle, and I modernized it with a bit of leather embellishments for my mother. I tooled a design to add on each side and mixed some different leathers together to give it a mottled bit of color and riveted it all onto the purse. I also made a new anchor for the handle. Her one complaint was that it didn’t have enough pockets for her liking. Apparently, it wasn’t “old lady enough” with its lack of extra pockets. *chuckle*
One Christmas I transformed my first Mord-Sith waist cincher armor so that I could make bracelets for everyone for the holiday. I tooled individual designs into new pieces to add to the 4-5 oz mahogany leather that the armor was made from, and added buckles or snaps. When I told my friends and family that I had used my first Mord-Sith armor for most of the bracelets they were very touched.
Currently, I’m tearing apart a second hand leather jacket so that I can use it for other hip bags and utility belts. I’m considering using the collar of the jacket to line the neckline on an elaborate Steampunk full arm armor. One sleeve will be turned into a handbag, the other into an archery quiver. I’m going to make an apothecary bracelet with the bottom back hem section. The two lower front pockets will end up as hip bags with a zippered pocket behind them and possibly a flap pocket behind that. The two smaller pockets and one edge of the zipper will be part of a utility belt. I can’t decide if I will use the back section for a journal cover or as the back of another vest. *shrug*
That’s the beauty of repurposing leather. Your limit is your imagination! Please send me any projects that you have transformed or modified to make it your own. I would love to see what your minds create.
I started crafting out of leather in 2011, and now I am making it my life's work. I am writing this blog to help myself remember some of the small steps in past projects, sharing my triumphs and failures, as well as my love of leather.