There's no way around it: tooled leather detailing seems quintessentially Western. And for my final post on True Grit and Western inspiration, I decided it was high time I used the leather key fobs I've had in my craft box since last Christmas (when I tried to dye them using regular fabric dye which, by the way, does not work). Since I utterly lack the skillset and patience required for hand-tooling with awls and hammers and whatnot, I short-cutted using my wood burning tool...
I realize I'm probably violating a part of leatherwork that is considered sacrosanct, but I'm also betting that true leather-working artisans are either not reading this post or have already left the page after that thing I wrote about trying to dye leather. So, onward and upward!
For this project you'll need: a leathercraft kit (I found mine at Hobby Lobby for a couple bucks. It includes the leather fob and the hardware.), a wood burning tool ($12-14.00 at a craft store), a hammer, and pencil and paper.
Decide on a design and then, using pencil, sketch that design onto your key fob. The pencil marks are visible, but faint, and you can erase if you mess up. Choose designs that are fairly simple: lines and shapes are easiest to handle.
Heat up your wood burner and lightly trace your pattern onto the leather. The trick is to keep the burning tool moving. If it rests too long in one place, it'll burn a big old hole. For more detailed instructions about using a wood burning tool, see my Deathly Hallows plaque post.
I'm terrible with straight lines in general--adding a hot metal instrument to the mix doesn't make me any better--but as I've said before: wood burning is the easiest thing in the world if you don't mind mistakes. Inevitably, my lines turn out a bit wobbly, but I think that adds to the charm of the project. It's like something I made at Girl Scout camp!
If any pencil marks remain, just gently erase and they should disappear. To attach the hardware, fold the narrow end of the fob around the key ring and insert the rivet through the front hole and then cap it. I believe there is a tool for fastening rivets, but I just used a hammer. Give the cap a few swift hammer blows and you're golden.
Et voila! A hand-detailed key fob. It's no saddle skirt or fancy belt, but it was fast, cheap, and relatively easy. Check, check, and check!
P.S. See how wonky the leather colors are? That's from me trying to dye them using Rit dye. Next time I'll just seek out some leather dye and avoid all that silliness. Lesson learned!