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Paisley Pattern Guitar Strap

Posted by Fallon Foster on

I have to say, this was a challenging commission.  The client wanted a larger than normal guitar strap tooled from end to end with no borders using a complex paisley pattern and they wanted it within a few weeks.  First I had to figure out what a paisley pattern is and it turns out it's a floral pattern with a heavy use of fractals and Fibonacci sequences, essentially a worst case scenario for leather carving.  Lots of precisely placed identical elements that only vary in size and only minutely at that.  That would probably explain why all the leather paisely guitar straps I found had printed, stitched, or embossed the pattern onto the leather, but none of them had tooled it.  I managed to find a couple of patterns that I thought might be toolable and after the client selected one I did a proof of concept just to be sure.

When the test showed that the pattern could be tooled I got everything ready to make the real thing.  I cut and cased a big leather strap and even made a tap-off figuring the work would go faster with one.  So naturally it turned out that the pattern was too complicated for a tap-off to work.  I wound up using 5-6 printouts (all of which have gone into my to-be-pulped bin) to transfer the patterns by hand.  I was hoping to get all the tooling done in one long day but we happened to be having a heat wave that day and the leather was decasing too quickly so I had to stow it by about 17:00.  It took another whole day to get the tooling finished.  I'd estimate it took a total of about 16-18 hours to finish all the tooling so it's probably a good thing I figured out a few ways keep the leather from decasing in half that time.

The final assembly with all the lining and trimming and staining and stitching and such took a day or two but didn't hold any surprises.  I'm pretty pleased with how the antiquing gel stains the leather.  Incidentally, so is the client who's immediately turned around and ordered a second one to be finished in four days.  So here I go again. =)