[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from the great DIYer Wafflebored, who’s going to tell us about his latest project. Enjoy! — PL]
When I stopped making jerseys, I knew I would need another project to fill the void. I was interested in leatherwork, as I knew there would be applications for vintage sports equipment.
A couple of years ago I made some little goalie blocker ornaments to send as Christmas gifts. They were a quick, fun project, but it sparked my interest in maybe making something with a little more detail and quality. I didn’t do anything last year, as I had a creative block and couldn’t come up with anything. But this year, as I practiced more with leather, I was able to come up with a new concept: a vintage goalie catching glove.
The first step, obviously, is to procure the leather. I use vegetable tanned leather, which is the standard leather used by hobbyists. Next, I cut the glove out from the leather, using a template I drew:
From there, I use an awl to mark out the details of the glove, like the separation between the sections and also the concentric stitching lines in the palm:
Next, I dampen the leather and use letter stamping sets to add detail. I was inspired by the little logos and phrases seen on old hockey and baseball gloves, usually extolling the alleged virtues of that particular model:
Once all of the stamping is done, I dye the leather. I mostly use Eco-Flo leather dyes from Tandy Leathers — they’re water-based, so there are no fumes, which is good because I work indoors in a small room.
I dyed most of the ornaments in a classic tan shade, as shown above, although I also experimented with some team-colored versions.
Once the dye is dry, I use a rotary leather punch to create holes for the lacing:
The next step is to apply a clear finish to the front and back to seal the color:
At this point, I have the option of another step: antiquing the finish. There’s a gel-like product that you wipe onto the piece, and it fills the embossed areas with a darker color and enhances the detail. It can also darken the overall color if you apply it heavily. I made a number of these gloves with various levels of aging, ranging from a brand-new out-of-the-box look, all the way to gloves that look like they were used for years. I usually aged the gloves to the point where the dye and finish enhanced some of the flaws in the leather. But this one already had a beautiful honey/amber look, so I decided not to antique it.
All those holes are going to need grommets. A key moment came when I found out you can buy tiny 1mm eyelets intended for making doll accessories. When I saw them, I knew they would be perfect for vintage sports equipment. I install them with a tool and mallet:
On the real gloves, eyelets were generally only installed around the perimeter of the glove, so I replicated this look. But the first and last holes on the perimeter did not receive an eyelet, as they are only big enough for one pass of the waxed thread that I use for the lacing:
Speaking of the lacing: For this glove, I used a tan color to represent a new, unused glove. (For the aged gloves, I opted for dark-brown lacing that looks like it’s seen a lot of use.) I used a needle for the first and last holes, with a couple of passes to make sure the thread doesn’t unravel.
The finished product, with a loop of thread at the top-right corner for hanging as an ornament, has a satisfying blend of textures from the leather, metal eyelets, and waxed thread:
I made about 30 of them, also experimenting with different team colors for the dye and thread. The color options are endless, but I mainly concentrated on my favorite 1970s NHL team colors:
I’m looking forward to improving my leatherworking skills and seeing what other vintage sports projects I can come up with!
Paul here. Is that sensational or what? Please join me in thanking Wafflebored for continuing to share his creativity with us — we’re lucky to have such a massive and generous-spirited talent in our midst.