DIY Final Project

The only requirements for this project were to make something that makes us happy, and to not make something too large that a 5-year old couldn’t carry it around. It took me quite a while to think of a project, but I finally settled on a pen roll. This was something that I had wanted to make for a while, but never got around to it, so I figured I may as well spend the time to get an assignment out of the way, too. It was also sort of a nice way to physically gather all the things that were given to us over the course of the class.


First thing, as always… sketches. There are some irrelevant things on the page, but the two on the right are pertinent to the project. I like having round holes to slot in the writing implements. The wavy cutouts were also pretty appealing, but I was worried that the fold over the top of the pens would get in the way of nice rolling.


There are some not-so-visible sketches at the top, but those were just more of the folding top design. This is where I start really thinking about how things are going to fit in the pen roll.


This is the sort of final project sketch before I started fabricating. I did end up switching the position of the eraser and knife, because I was worried that the eraser would get in the way of removing the knife.


There is a sort of assembly sketch for me to figure out the layering of all the parts. I had originally intended to skive and fold each of the round cutouts, but when I started actually fabricating, I decided against this, because it would have been too difficult, and I did not really have a proper skiving tool for this.


Laid out everything on a slightly extended piece of paper. The leather I had to work with was just a little bit over 12 inches, so I extended the 8.5″x11″ accordingly. Layout is everything from here, because I only had enough leather for one attempt. The assignment was due the next day, and I had no room for a screw-up.


I trade out all the parts that I wanted to go into the pen roll, along with centerlines, and stitching lines. I had to use a ballpoint on the right side of the layout, because it was taped over, and pencil wouldn’t draw on it. (I should have done the layout on the other side of the page, but oh well…)


After taking down the paper layout to the first sheet of leather, I used a spacing tool to mark out all the stitching holes. This also had the added benefit of keeping the paper from sliding around the surface of the leather when I started cutting out the holes.


All holes cut out! I actually had to re-hone my X-Acto knife between cutting each hole. I kept a stropping leather loaded with jeweler’s rouge on my desk for that purpose.


Before stitching, I had to burnish all the inner edges of the circles that I had cut out. I used a burnishing tool (figures) and some stuff called Gum Tragacanth. Basically, the stuff dissolved the leather, and after it dried, the leather would be nice and fused together.


I cut out a sheet of denim from a pair of torn jeans that I probably should have stopped wearing long ago. I made sure to trim the denim just shy of the perimeter stitching lines, because I did not want the denim to interfere with the burnishing later. I also used some flexible glue to tack the denim down to the back sheet of leather.


There’s the strip that ends up going around the entire pen roll to keep it closed. The front of it is leather, and the back is another strip of denim. I used more glue to keep it together and limit the fraying of the denim. I stitched the lengths of the strip first, before mounting it to the rest of the pen roll.


There it is anchored to the back piece of leather. The tie-off for the stitching ends of being hidden under the inner sheet of leather.


After many, many more hours of stitching, I ended up with this. I decided to not have the partitioning stitches run all the way to the end of the perimeter, because there would have been stitching hole alignment issues. The gap allowed me to not have to take the alignment into consideration.


Perimeter stitching finally done, along with trimming the edges. Last step was to burnish all the outer edges.


The things that were given out in class were the 3 COPIC marks, one regular Sharpie, a fine tipped Sharpie, BIC Cristal, and two colored pencils. That’s not even including the sketchbook!


Some minor issues with the edge not bring fully burnished, but that can always be fixed later.


That’s it! I think that was a pretty good way to wrap up that class. Hopefully, I’ll get to be a TA next year and see what other awesome ideas students come up with.


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