In class this week, we were challenged to fabricate something that made use of two different materials, and neither could be acrylic or plywood. I have been trying to replace my wallet for the past couple of months, so I was eager to try making something with leather that could give me some experience working with it.
Metal provides a great foil (yes, pun intended) to leather. Just ask any punk or biker. So I set out to do some shopping at two shops that specialized in just those items: Global Leathers and Metalliferous.
I was concerned that Global Leathers might not be interested in helping someone looking to essentially buy scraps, but they were actually very helpful and didn’t really mind that I wasn’t putting in a wholesale order. Metalliferous had many small pieces of sheet metal that I could choose from, but I ultimately ended up buying the aluminum. I figured it would be easiest to work with.
So now that I had some material to work with, I had to figure out what to make. I generally want to make something useful, and since I’m not that familiar with the material, I decided to make a tray. I know really exciting.
I wasn’t quite sure how to incorporate the metal yet, but I figured I could at least us it as a bottom for the tray. The leather I purchased was a sheep skin, so it wasn’t very thick and was very soft. Having something stiff on the bottom would help to keep the tray from being too floppy. I cut two sides of the tray in case I wanted to hide the aluminum in the middle of the two pieces.
I then cut down the aluminum to size. I used the metal shearer first but then cleaned up the edges using the nibbler and a file.
I tried sandwiching the aluminum and leather, but one of the problems I ran into was that the inside sheet of leather began to buckle once I started folding it together.
I also checked wether I would be okay with the aluminum being exposed.
I decided to go for the second piece of leather because the aluminum had some scuff marks I couldn’t quite ignore. But I had to recut the second piece of leather in order to accommodate for the folded geometry.
The second layer this time accounted for the thickness of material when folded so the holes and edges line up when folded. Unfortunately, the walls were still a little too floppy.
I then cut strips of aluminum to act as edges for the sides. Using the bender, I shaped them into channels and secured them to the leather with a pair of pliers. The rigidity of the aluminum gives the tray walls enough stability to stay upright.
The final tray works at least. The aluminum feels somewhat cheap in comparison to the sheepskin. The edges, while functional are maybe too rigid and cause the tray to lose some of what makes leather such an alluring material.