Recently I started collecting crystal decanter bottles from thrift stores. Despite my under-$10 rule, I was able to find a few in no time at all. But a problem quickly arose: How do you tell the alcohol apart once it’s in the bottles? At a bar with dozens of unlabeled taps, out of curiosity I asked the bartender how they knew what each one was. At first he claimed they had them memorized, but then he admitted that they have a key. So not wanting to have to rely on a good memory or a cheatsheet, I decided I’d better make labels for these decanters.
These are so fun and easy to make that I’m already thinking of other things I could label. I’ve made stamped leather keychains before (and a constellation version), but it may be time to update my keys with informative labels so I can keep track of what doors they open. I bet these would also make good simple luggage tags.
DIY Leather Liquor Bottle Labels
Printed label template
Thick leather – Mine came from leather remnant bags sold at Michaels, or SCRAP.
Ink stamp pad
Masking tape or painter’s tape
Ball chain with clasps- 3 inches per label. These are 4 inches but look perfect for this project, and if you want them shorter, just trim them with wire cutters.
Leather hole punch – This one or this one look similar to the one I have.
Metal alphabet stamp set -This set is the one I use. It’s relatively inexpensive, and has been very useful for stamping metal, leather and clay.
Stamping surface – I used a metal stamping block, but you could also use a piece of wood or a cutting board.
Pen or pencil
1. If you’ve never stamped leather before, first practice stamping on some leather scraps to get a sense of how hard you need to hit the hammer, how much to ink the stamps, and whether you’ll need to dampen your leather to get a good impression. If you aren’t getting good letter formation because your leather is too hard, try dampening it with a wet sponge before you stamp.
2. Cut out the label template, then trace around it on the back of the leather with a pen or pencil.
3. Cut out your labels with scissors.
4. Lay your label out on the surface you’ll be stamping it on, and tape it down just below where you want to stamp. You can measure with the ruler, but I just eyeballed it. Then find the stamps for your letters, line them up, and figure out the placement on the leather. You can mark the tape to help you line things up.
5. Line the stamps up and tape them together. To make sure that your stamps aren’t backwards or upside-down, ink your stamps and do some test stamping on a piece of paper.
6. Ink your stamps, line them up on the leather, and give them a whack with the hammer. I hit this set of five letters three times, once on each end and once in the middle.
7. Remove your label from the stamping surface, and then punch a hole in the narrow end. (If you don’t have a leather punch, you could also carefully cut a small slit.)
8. String the ball chain through the hole, then hang on your bottle.
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