Thursday, June 1, 2017

Frogskin Background

I updated this blog post from long ago to include a new video and some photos.
Tommy McLintic of South Africa first showed me this very effective background. He is also author of the "Let's Make a Gadget" postings on this blog.
This method might look very laborious and tedious, but a surprisingly large area can be covered without too much effort if you enjoy the craft and want something special. I use it mainly for small projects.

  1. I first draw a feint guide line about 5mm from the edge of the surface I want to decorate - this line will later be the guide for a border stamp I will use around the background effect.
  2. Next I start with the cased leather and the largest smooth seed stamp I have - a Craftool #S864. It must have a round a dome as possible. In the example below you will see little dimples in the 'mounds' - my leather is fairly thin and I do not want to punch them in too hard or deep.

  3. I follow no rule when I place these first dots - as soon as you think a pattern might evolve, break away. I like to group some of the largest dots together as you see above, and then when those are all done, I look for any large open spaces and either place a few smaller groups or single dots.
  4. With the following size of seeder down (Craftool #S631), I surround all the large 'mounds' with smaller ones. You could also just work randomly and that would give a different effect.

  5. Be careful as you use smaller seeders - they need considerably less striking force on your mallet to make an impression and you will be used to a harder tap with the larger punch. Remember also that it takes many small dots to fill even a small area, so you do not want to leave too much space open for the smallest seeder.

  6. The smallest seeder, a Craftool #S931, is then used to fill in the gaps.
  7. If you want to, you can take the largest seeder again and just 'redo' one or two of the larger dots that have lost its shape.
  8. An example of the coloring done with an airbrush - difficult to stay within the border tool used around the background.

  I recently did a Facebook Live video to show this technique.   That means that it is quite long winded (I did edit some spots out), so if you want to you can skip ahead. I tried to keep most of my talking in the video to preserve most of the tips I was passing along - forgive the many "Hhhmmmm ...... Eeeehhh" in the video when my mind is on the action of my hands and not of what I am talking about:
 Here are some examples where I have used this on projects.  First my wife's handbag:
 The rest of the bag was airbrushed - you can see it was spirit based dye - it did not penetrate all that well.   Now, after more than twenty years,  it looks antique, but I would have liked it to be more solid in color.  Waterbased dye penetrate better when used in an airbrush.
  A very simple example of the frog skin pattern being used for a covered buckle:
 This is a bag I made about ten years ago and I use it to carry tools and what-not to leather shows and guild meetings.  It also shows some other arrangements of the seeder tools:
  Here is a video that shows some ideas about backgrounds:
First published June 2017

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