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Faux Leather Finish

To make a faux leather finish appearance on anything from a small table to a complete wall or all the walls in a room a procedure which has come to be known as Paper 'plique is used.

We've condensed portions of our old newsletter to make more readable web pages of subjects such as this one on faux leather finishes.

The use of paper in a faux finish will sometimes raise eyebrows and bring some interesting exclamations, but remember that some pretty fancy looking walls are done with wallpaper.

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You could easily do a table top with commercial wall paper for a very unique look, for instance, if you papered a wall with a commercial wall paper you could do matching end tables with the same wall paper. We'll go into the procedure at another time.

We'll go through some of the variables before we start the actual procedure of faux leather. There are so many variables that we won't be able to cover them all, because there are many minds ticking already with personal thoughts of variables. Any variation of the procedure that works for you and gives you the results that you want are fair game. These types of procedures generally have a standard base and then your imagination can take over from there.

Crinkles which make the faux leather grain

The crinkles which make the faux leather grain are easily made, just wad the paper up in a ball and squeeze it tightly. Each piece of paper will have it's own unique crinkle pattern, just the way real leather has.

You can make a finer smoother looking leather finish by using tissue paper, but in the gluing procedure you need to use a very tender touch to keep the crinkles in the tissue paper from smoothing out completely.

Kraft paper

Kraft paper is a more hardy paper to work with and is the paper most generally chosen and easiest to work with. If you like to recycle, have the grocery store sacker put your groceries in paper bags, then use the paper bags to make faux leather.

You can buy kraft paper in rolls, generally found in gift wrapping sections in stores or in the stationery section with mailing supplies.

Tear, don't cut, the paper

Before you crinkle the paper you'll need to prepare it. Tear, don't cut, the paper into pieces, about as large as you can get from a grocery sack without any straight creases, any size sacks will do, it just takes more of the smaller size, but they still work ok. If you use rolled kraft paper tear off pieces from the roll at about two feet. The rolls are generally two and a half feet wide, so you'd have a piece of paper two feet by two and a half feet. You can make the pieces smaller if it's easier for you to work with.

Tear off all sharp straight edges of the paper so you've got all nice soft, fuzzy non-symmetrical edges, except leave four corner pieces with straight edges for use in the corners and a few pieces with one edge straight to use on the edges of your project.

It's best to not use any grocery sack parts that have writing on them (hang on to them a minute, I've got an idea). Even if you turned the writing face inward the ink would probably bleed through when the paper got wet from the installing procedure.

conversation piece wall in your kitchen

The brainstorm!! If you'd like to have a conversation piece wall in your kitchen, collect paper sacks from all the grocery stores in your area and randomly add the writing portion of the sacks to a kitchen wall.

First faux leather project

I would suggest that you make your first faux leather project a piece of scrap wood or something else that isn't important, because it may take several tries before you get your technique down to your satisfaction and color combinations that are pleasing to you. If you don't have a piece of scrap wood large enough the side of a cardboard box would work nicely too. You should have a surface a couple of feet square to work with to get a good idea of overall appearance. If you use a cardboard box be sure that the box doesn't have any printing on it. If all the boxes you have are printed, cut a side out of one and use the inside, or if you need the box for storage, glue a layer of kraft paper over the printed surface.

If you're using a surface a couple of feet square you should tear your paper pieces a little smaller than I had recommended last time, so you can practice working with the soft edges and blending.

Leather comes in all sorts of colors

Now is a good time to choose your colors. Leather comes in all sorts of colors depending on the animal it comes from and the dyes the manufacturer uses. Take a look at some leather pieces. It's best if you have a magnifying glass to really study it closely and see how the colors are layered to make the overall appearance. The leather I'm studying right now is a top grain leather billfold. The leather is brown and graduates from a light brown to a medium brown. It appears that a good faux leather simulation could be made with a base coat and two glaze coats. You'll have to experiment to see if you would prefer to start with a light base coat, medium glaze coat and darker glaze coat, or the other way around.

One nice thing about Faux is that it is a totally inexact exactitude. Whatever suits your fancy is fair game. When you take a look at nature you'll see that two things that appear the same have little differences, the same as the faces of people, or snowflakes. If two bees sting you at the same time you may not be able to tell, or you don't really care at the time, but their stingers may be different lengths or diameters, or one may be a little crooked. The gist of this is that I can give you the basics of how to do faux leather, but you need to experiment and work out the details for your own taste and desire.


If you're wondering about glaze, it's a transparent or translucent color applied over something to give it a different appearance. You can use just about anything to make a glaze coat. Don't throw out the day old coffee, it can be used as a good glaze coat for a brown faux leather project.

Use water base substances, rather than oil

I'd better stop a minute here to suggest that you use water base substances, rather than oil, because the water base products will dry much quicker than oil base will and you can do a lot more experimenting a lot more quickly. You can hurry water base drying, for experimenting, with a hair dryer or heat_gun. It's best when you work on your final important project that you let everything dry without help. There's only a slight difference between the appearance of induced drying and drying on it's own, but it could produce a difference that you don't care for. Water base is a whole lot easier to clean up too.

Artists acrylic colors are ideal for making water base glazes

Back to glazes. Artists acrylic colors are ideal for making water base glazes because there is such a large selection of colors and shades and mixing them together will give an infinite amount of glaze colors and shades to choose from.

The final product you need for your project is a clear acrylic finish for protection of the surface.

Our faux leather project continues

Our faux leather project continues and concludes on our next page with other materials you'll need, wadding your kraft paper, alternate methods and a whole big page more of information. (Page 2 is down for revision and will be back up within 24 hours.) - Online Art Supplies
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