Here’s is a project that lets children be creative, indulge in the joy of tearing something and make a gift – all at the same time! Recycle an empty box into a valet box for Dad’s dresser. Imitation leather boxes take a little time, but offer a satisfying end product.
Rolls of masking tape
An empty box, such as a cigar box
Liquid shoe polish
Clear spray paint, either acrylic or lacquer
Felt or other fabric for lining
Hardware for the outside if desired
The goal is to reproduce the grain of leather with torn pieces of masking tape. Because leather is irregular and can have scratches and scars, children can get a quite satisfactory result with almost any skill level.
Tear small pieces of masking tape from the end of the roll. Overlap the pieces on the outside of the box until it is covered. Smooth each piece before adding the next.
The more irregular the edges of the pieces of tape, the better it will look. The texture of the tape combined with the pattern of the edges of the pieces will produce a very satisfying leather effect. Minor ridges in the tape won’t hurt a thing.
Once the box is covered in tape pieces, use the sponge applicator on the liquid shoe polish to tint the masking tape pieces to the desired shade. (Adults may want to perform this stage for younger children.) Again, slight irregularities in the shading will add to the leather look. For a darker tone, add a second or even third coat as the previous coats dry.
Wipe with a soft dry cloth to remove excess polish and speed drying. Once well-dried, finish with a sealing spray of clear acrylic or lacquer in a well ventilated area and allow to air dry thoroughly. Glue felt or other fabric inside as a liner to add pizzazz and a more finished look. Add a bead or purchase hardware from a craft store to form a handle, lock or hinge. If the cover of the box overlaps the body, consider adding a hook-and-loop type closure to keep the box closed.
If a container is the desired size but not as sturdy as you would like, reinforce it with cardboard cut to fit and glued in place. Or wrap the container in a couple of layers of masking tape before beginning the leather layer. Remember, flaws can be camouflaged with the torn pieces of tape.
Want a traditional Western “brand” on your leather? Draw it with a black permanent marker after the shoe polish dries but before sealing.
This technique also works on other shapes. A plastic cup can become a pen caddy with the addition of a weight in the bottom to keep it steady. Cover an 8-1/2″x11″ paper box to create an “In Box.” Older crafters who can safely handle glass can turn a bottle or jar into a faux leather-wrapped vase or candle holder.