Create a wet formed leather pen tray.
Difficulty level - Average.
You will need a 2 or 3 part mould. Sharp knife. Water filled sink. I made this pen tray mould from left over solid wood kitchen worktop, but you can use a multitude of house hold objects and containers as long as they fit together. A good combo if using found objects is plastic and glass - using the glass as the mould and the plastic as the part to stretch over it when your leather is sandwiched in between. I have created a pot in the past using a round glass paper weight and plastic cup. If you are using wood you need to cover it with plastic film to prevent the wet leather warping the mould.
Next you will need some vegetable tanned leather. This is available in full skins from leather suppliers but also you can find offcuts or cut to size pieces from many online retailers and auction sites. You will need a thickness between 1.2mm-2mm - the thicker the leather the harder it will be to form. Depending on what you are moulding a square foot can cost as little as £15-£20. You will need a piece roughly a third larger than the size of what you are moulding.
Once you have the mould and leather you can start the fun part. Run a shallow sink with cold tap water and submerge the leather completely for a couple of minutes allowing the whole thing to soak as much water as it can.
Next you need to form the leather over your mould this can be quite tricky but try and shape it enough so it is tight to the shape. Using the 2nd part of the mould force this over or into the 1st part causing the leather to be trapped between the two shapes. There will be some excess leather around the sides which will crease up but leave this as it is. You need to make sure the mould can now be left without movement until the leather has dried.
After around 24 hours the leather should have dried and you will be left with something like this.
Next step is to carefully cut the excess leather off. Caution! Be very carful doing this as you will need a very sharp craft blade. The best way I have found is to place the leather back into the first mould which is why its a good idea to use metal, glass, or wood. Using the mould as a cutting mat you can then cut off any parts of the leather that have creased over or not formed properly. Then you will be left with your formed leather tray or shape!
Check out the de Lacy wet formed pen tray here.