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A Cut-Out, Doodle-able Leather Coaster DIY for the Craft-Averse

September 21, 2016

There are many different kinds of coasters on the market right now. Everywhere you turn, there are paper or wooden coasters emblazoned with maps or cutesy sayings like “rosé all day.” But what about buttery, graphic leather coasters? Buttery leather coasters that you made yourself? Now we’re talking.

Soft, "buttery" leather is available in single 8.5" x 11" sheets for around $13. A standard pair of scissors should slice right through it, enabling you to master the art of cutting near-identical circles in just a few minutes.

You're going to make these and it's going to take you ten minutes. Photo by Alpha Smoot

This DIY embraces the beautiful inconsistencies that can result from playing around with a permanent marker. Once you’ve cut your leather circles and the paint has set on the tip of that paint pen, there’s no turning back! You can add dots all over the surface of the leather; use a ruler to add geometric stripes or a star pattern across the middle. Or you can do as I did and abandon your ruler altogether: just begin squiggling!

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Make a few stacks of four and finish with a bow for insta-house warming gifts). The leather will beautifully soften and age over time—i.e., with every pretty, watery ring that gets imprinted on it from your warming glass.

What you'll need:

  • Paint Pens in medium white and fine black points (I used Sharpie brand)
  • Leather Tooling Piece (Note that 4 coasters can be made with one 8.5 x 11 sheet of leather; I used Art Minds brand)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil (one with an extra sharp tip!)
  • 3.5-inch water glass or biscuit cutter

How to make them:

Photo by Alpha Smoot
  • Lay the sheets of leather on a clean, flat surface, rough/unfinished side up. This is the side you’ll want to trace (you don’t want pencil marks on the pretty side).
  • Take a water glass or biscuit cutter measuring 3.5 inches in diameter, and with a pencil trace four circles on the leather piece. These will fit fairly snuggly, so hug the edges of the leather when tracing. Then carefully cut out leather circles.
Permission to squiggle. Photo by Alpha Smoot
  • Flip circles over and begin drawing using paint pens.
  • Most paint pens require a good shake first, in addition to first pressing the tip of the pen on a hard surface (like a piece of scrap paper) to get the paint into the tip. Once you have an even stream of paint flowing, you can begin drawing on the leather.Use a ruler for even lines and grid patterns, or go freehand—I practiced squiggling on a blank sheet of paper before using the paint pen on the leather.
Photo by Alpha Smoot

Watermarks will show up on the raw leather, but don't fret about them: It's all in the name of a well-loved look, later on down the line.

We've made leather coasters, wood coasters, clothespin coasters, and rope coasters—any other ideas for DIY-ing them another way? Share in the comments.

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