It is an absolute joy to work with Leather Cord when making bracelets, necklaces, and sorts of leather jewelry. But it is frequently asked on how to make it soften so to finish any leather project when the leather cords are stiff and uncooperative. In this blog let me share several easy methods that can be done at home.
Soften Leather Cord at home
The thicker the leather cord, the stiffer is the leather. Genuine leather cord of higher quality tend to be tougher overall. The main reason why leather is harder to manipulate (especially the ones stored in spools for a long period of time) is they dry out fairly quickly.
Dry leather is tough, which is why we wear our leather shoes and jewelry once in a while to keep them from drying out and even cracking. The natural oil on our skin help maintain leather goods, believe it or not.
There are some commercial products out there that might help you with softening leather cords. However, some of these products might be too harsh and they may end up weakening your leather.
Try to avoid using softening agents that contain harsh solvents as these tend to damage delicate leather fibre. The use of leather softening agents will also cause a darkening of the material that will not fade over time. So your leather cord is going to be a shade darker than before.
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1. The bending method
This is the most straightforward method of softening a cord so you can work with it better during a project. To begin, cut the measure of cord that you need for your bracelet or necklace project.
Next, start bending the cord to and fro, making sure that the entire length is able to move with only a small bit leftover as you hold it firmly with your other hand with your thumb and index finger. The more you flex it, the more it loosens. The movement, as you will see will begin unlocking the stiff leather fibers that previously locked the leather cord into a certain shape while it was still rolled tightly on the spool.
Just continue moving the fiber back and forth until you feel it becoming softer and more pliable. The way to do it is gently, but consistently. Excess force, or bending the cord too hard, can result in cracks on the surface of the leather. Such damage might be minute, but it will have a big impact on the appearance of the final product when you use the leather cord for your project. Since you are only working with a small amount of leather, the effort might not require a long time.
Now, keep in mind that there will be instances when a leather cord would soften on the first day, but not to the level that you might want or need for your project. This is okay. You have to condition the leather to stay in a certain shape, so you may want to repeat the bending process the next day. If this still doesn’t work, extend the softening process to a few days and you will eventually get the softness that you want.
Let’s say that on the first try, you start noticing small cracks immediately on the surface of the leather. If this is the problem it’s likely that the leather is very dry and someone aged and requires a bit more help in order to become soft again.
What you should do is to get some oil and get a few drops on your fingertips. Rub it around a little before spreading on the smooth side or grain side of the leather cord. Since you have already cut the measure of cord that you need for your project, this should be no problem. Just keep rubbing until the oil spreads from one end to the other.
You can also add a bit of oil underneath (the flesh side) as this is the layer that used to be attached to the animal itself. This side of the leather is more porous and will easily absorb liquids. Don’t worry – eventually, all that oil is going to dissipate, and you will have a better-looking cord than before.
Now if you feel that you put too much oil, all you need to do is grab a piece of clean cloth or rag, and wipe the cord down to remove the excess oil. The leather will retain just the right amount of oil for its quantity.
After the application of the oil, continue being the cord, making sure to be extra careful in not damaging the smooth side of the leather. Slow is good in this case – if you need to let the leather rest for another day that is fine.
2. The bone bead method
The bone bead method is preferred by many beginners because it speeds up the softening processing and also helps straighten out the cord much faster.
So for this method what you are going to need is a bone bead or natural bead that has a hole that is snug for the size of the Leather Cord that you are using. So it should be easy to thread the leather cord, but there has to be some friction because that’s important for the softening process.
To begin, we recommend that you apply just a little bit of oil on the leather cord so it won’t be ‘shocked’ by the friction. Next, thread one end of the leather cord through the eye of the natural bead, at an angle, and begin pulling. Making sure that the natural bead or bone bead is rubbing against the material as the added friction is what straightens it. Think of ironing and the application of heat and you’ll see why this process works.
The bone bead method also gives the leather a nice distressed appearance which is awesome for all kinds of jewelry. A distressed look goes well with so many types of fashion statements, including bohemian and casual. Repeat the threading and pulling process until you get the desired straightness.
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