This is a post by long-time contributor and super-mama, Leigh.
One of my favorite camp crafts each year were those awesome leather bracelets. Remember those? Then I would wear it the rest of the summer and try to make it last to the school year… I thought my boys would like to hammer the letters and shapes into the leather bracelets as much as I did, so I set out to make some special memories.
Instead, I made a fun craft really hard. If you want to do this activity, plan ahead and order these. It will honestly save you some time and money… I had a bunch of random things laying around that helped defray the cost, but I spent more on some wider leather strips than the imitation leather craft bracelets cost, and they don’t need assembly! I didn’t have time to wait on an order to come in… Next year we’ll order some early and have them ready.
Now, if you want to do it the hard way, gather your supplies:
- some leather scraps (sold at most large craft stores – or reuse old leather purses or belts!)
- scissors and wire cutters
- heavy duty needles
- a hammer
- some metal stamps sets (like this or this – the larger one would be better, I think)
- other random metal bits you have laying around the house (just for fun… I had a set of tiny “cookie” cutters for polymer clay that made some great shapes)
- some permanent markers
Once you get your leather scraps, cut them to size. For the kids’ size, cut them to about 7 inches long, and for adults, cut them about 9 inches long. In the pictures below, the kids sizes are the dark gray leather, and the adult sizes are tan. You can make them any width you’d like!
Decide if you’d like to put snaps on your bracelets (hard!) or buttons (much easier!). If you’d like to do snaps, get really frustrated with the first couple attempts to pass the prongs through your leather strip, then do this… poke the prongs into the leather just to make an imprint.
Then take a heavy-duty needle and poke through each imprint for each prong, and then work each prong through the poked holes individually until they are all the way through. Install the rest of the snap according to the package’s directions.
Using a heavy duty needle and heavy duty thread/cord/embroidery floss, sew a button on to one end of your bracelet on the front part of the leather.
Take wire cutters or snips or something sharp to start a hole in your leather. My scissors wouldn’t do it alone at first, so I started the hole with the wire cutters and finished it with the scissors.
See? Finished button hole.
If you have a wider bracelet, you could make it adjustable by putting 2 buttonholes on it like this:
OK! Now that all of your prep is done, you can give your child a hammer and some metal stamps, punches, etc.
Make sure your work surface is protected, because this could get messy.
Let them bang away for a bit… I think this would be a lot more fun for the boys if they could spell out what they wanted, but Elias didn’t have the patience for that. He pounded out his name, and added some fun shapes, and he had a great time with it!
He did decide it was a bit plain, so he asked me to draw on it. He didn’t want to draw on it himself, though. This is where the permanent markers come in. Draw around some of the hammered shapes to accent them, or do a new design! Donovan’s bracelet was stamped with the 1/8 inch steel stamps, and it says “Jesus loves Donovan.” I used the same stamps for mine, and I just stamped “Be Still.” I need a constant reminder.
Elias wasn’t too excited to get his picture taken, but I think this was a fun one for us all!
At least, it was fun for me again once all the prep work was done. Let’s see if I can make mine last until fall!
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All photos property of Leigh Miller. Do not use without permission.