Leather Filigree - How I do it and What to Use

Leather filigree is One of the carving technique I use.

You cut out all the background and make the piece see through.

After all tooling, with a sharp scalpel / craft knife to cut the area that would be the background.

Then I put another solid piece with different colour which is going to become a new background of the art.

In this article, I will be sharing how I do my filigree and what I use for this piece.

In this article, I will be sharing how I do my filigree and what I use for this piece.

I will leave a template of the piece that you can use to trace as well.

I use my Ipad pro in Guided Access mode and use a piece of tracing paper and a pencil to trace the design.

The leather used for this piece is, 5-6Oz Veg tanned leather.

1. Items Required

  • Spray bottle

  • Craft knife

  • Sponge

  • Tooling stamps

  • Paint Brush - Narrow and long

  • Swivel Knife

  • Trace sheet

  • Stylus

Tooling Stamps:

  • Bevellers B200, B935

  • Lifters B60, B892

  • Pear Shaders P367

  • Camouflages C432

  • Seeders S705, S631

  • Stop H903

  • Veiners V463

  • Mule foots U853, U858

  • Flower Centre J520


  • Fiebing‘s Pro Dye, Dark Red, Mahogany

  • Fiebing’s Antique Paste, Sheridan Brown

  • Tan - Kote

  • Extra virgin Olive oil

2. Trace the design

Use trace paper and stylus to copy the design on to the leather piece. I use spray bottle to wet my leather.

3. Cut the pattern

Use a swivel knife to cut the pattern.

4. Tooling

I go in the following order

  • Flower centre

  • Lifters

  • Beveller

  • Shaders

  • Stops

  • Veiner

  • Seeders

  • Mule foots

  • No Background required as it’s getting cut out


This is the main part of this piece.

Using a sharp craft knife with a new blade, I carefully cut out all the background parts.

Be as precise as possible.

Then I burn the leather with a lighter from the back to get rid of all fuzzy fibres.

Only burn it by holding the fire just close enough to burn the fine fibres. (About 1cm form the piece)

Then brush the burned scraps off.

This will make the out line of the filigree sharper and tidy.

5. Dye / coating

First I dye the border with Mahogany Pro Dye, taking care not to dye any tooled part.

I use long narrow brush for this.

Do not let it leak into the tooling part.

If you wet the brush with too much dye, it Will expend too much and into the tooling part.

So don’t over dip the brush with the dye.

Then I apply oil With a piece of sponge.

Then The Tan - Kote (Dry overnight), followed by Antique and Tan-Kote (Dry overnight) again one more time.

I use a piece of sponge to apply Tan-Kote too, a wide brush for Antique.

6. Glue background

Prepare a piece that will create the background colour For the filigree piece.

I used Dark Red Pro dye, then Coated with Tan - Kote.

To glue the background on, apply leather glue on the FILIGREE PIECE, making sure it is even and all the way to the edge.Try not to get any in cut outs. I use a wide and narrow brush for this too.

Then let it dry 50% until its really tacky.

Then place it on to the background piece, carefully so you are not smearing the glue into the cut outs.

You have to get it the first go, it will be very difficult to re-position once the pieces get in contacts.

If excess glue leaks out into the cut outs, use a needle to remove them so it does not leave glue marks.

Press with something not too heavy evenly for about an hour or two.

This will ensure that every edge is in contact with the background piece.

I use Heavy books.


I used this piece to make a middle wallet with filigree strap as well.

Thanks for reading, Enjoy Carving!

View the full listing of the wallet HERE

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