When the two sheets of faux leather were dry, I was able to start painting them.
You only need a fairly limited colour palette – a darker and a lighter brown are all that are required, but when I did this the first time, I felt that the addition of a little yellow ochre lightened it a bit and gave it a little more interest.
I worked on my non-stick craft mat as this is so easy to clean up, even when the acrylic paint has dried on it. Starting to paint the first layer of burnt umber, I used quite a large brush and added a touch of water. It is best to use a combination of stippling and short, multi-directional brush strokes in order to push the paint into all the creases in the faux leather. I went fairly carefully with the first coat, as I did not want to break up the surface of the paper, which although much stronger now it was dry, was still vulnerable if wet.
The first coat of burnt umber complete. You can see that the cover is inadequate, and some of the whiteness of the card is showing through the paint layer.
At least two coats are required, depending on the coverage and the quality of the paint; I think three coats is best. Here is the faux leather after the application of the second coat. You can see that the coverage is a lot more even now.
The third and final coat complete. It now has a good, overall coverage in a rich, dark brown.
It could have been left like this – it now had the look of leather, but the finish was a little flat, and with some highlights it would appear much more like the real thing. You can see that the paint leaves a slight sheen – in the above photo the paint is still a bit wet, and it dries slightly less shiny.
To finish the piece, some lighter brown (in this case, burnt sienna) and then some yellow ochre, were dry-brushed on. The minimum of paint was applied; it is much easier to add more than to remove too much! It requires a very light touch, just enough for the paint to touch the tops of the creases.
The burnt sienna being applied.
The piece with the burnt sienna dry brushing laid over the original piece to compare. Unfortunately the photos don’t really pick up the difference very well.
The burnt sienna dry brushing complete. I think you can see that it now has a reddish tinge.
Dry brushing with yellow ochre. Again, the piece being worked on is laid on top of the piece with just the burnt sienna dry brushing, to compare.
Once both sheets were dry, I applied the finishes. I decided that with the piece I was going to retain as a photographic background, it would be better if it had a matte finish so that I wouldn’t be troubled by reflections. This is where I made my mistake. I thought that if I painted on some soft matte gel medium with a foam brush, this would dry crystal clear (as the glass bead gel medium does) and that I would just get a nice matte finish, but the wretched stuff dried quite milky, and it’s not a success! You live and learn… I would have done better to use a matte spray varnish.
For the other piece, which is going to be used as a masterboard and cut up for different projects, I used one single liberal coat of acrylic wax, again applied with a foam brush. I have had success with this before on faux leather.
It has a lovely sheen, and brings out the colours and texture well.
Here are the two finishes compared. I may still be able to use the matte one but it hasn’t come out as intended! I am very pleased with the other one, though.
The pieces are quite floppy and flexible and have the feel of real leather.
The finished masterboard.
I have deliberately left this masterboard unembellished. When cut up, I can emboss the pieces if I want, or add some gold highlights with gilding wax, or whatever else is required for the individual project. Leaving it in its original state makes it more versatile.
Faux leather can be used for cards, covering boxes, making book covers… its uses are endless, and limited only by your own imagination. The colour can be anything you like, and if the surface is further plasticised with the addition of wax or varnish to seal it, it is actually quite durable. It is very useful for making man cards as it has a nice masculine look! Watch this space to see what I do with my faux leather masterboard.