I never had any use for a napkin ring and most of the ones that I see in stores and in traditional place settings have not inspired me to change my thinking. As I was playing with leather cuts and remnants from another project in the book, I started forming rings with notched wings. Instantly I fell in love with the idea of how this type of ring would age with time and use. The added layer of unpolished sophistication these leather napkin rings possess is a thoughtful addition to a modern or rustic table.
Tools & Materials:
- 4 heavyweight leather strips, cut into 5-1/2" x 3/4" leather strips (see Tip)
- Cutting mat
- 3/4" English point strap end punch
- Rubber Mallet
- 3/32" round drive leather punch
- Craft knife
- Put one 5-1/2 inch strip of leather, right (smooth) side up, on the cutting mat. Line it up horizontally and straight to any line guide on the cutting mat.
- Shape the ends of the leather, using the point strap end punch. Place the punch concave side facing the length of the leather, with the center of the convex side lined up at the center edge of the leather. Try to keep the punch as parallel to the leather as possible. The 2 ends of the punch should be flush with the edges of the leather. Punch the edge of the leather with the help of a mallet. You may have to hit the punch several times to get it to go all the way through.
- Repeat with the opposite end of the leather. Once both sides are punched, the leather will look like a very long and straight-sided oval.
- Measure a 1/2 inch in from each end of the leather and add a small pencil mark. Center the round hole punch over one of the pencil marks. Punch out the mark with the help of a mallet. Repeat on the other end of the strip, punching out the second pencil mark.
- Time to cut the interlocking openings. The thinner your leather, the thinner this cutout will need to be. You want a tight groove so that the leather stays interlocked during use. Start on the right side, lining up the craft knife perpendicular to the length of the strip. At the inner left edge of the round hole you just made, cut a straight line all the way down the bottom of the strip. Next, move the knife over to the inner right of the hole and cut another line straight down. Remove the line of leather you just cut out.
- Turn the leather strip 180 degrees so that the cut you just made faces up and away from you. Line up the craft knife perpendicular to the length of the strip, at the center left edge of the round hole on the right side. Cut a straight line all the way down to the bottom of the strip. Next, move the knife over to the right edge of the hole and cut another line straight down. Remove the line of leather you just cut.
- Pick up the leather strip and flip it over to the back. Turn the 2 ends in toward one another, twisting and interlocking the leather ends. If the cuts are too tight, you can keep slicing off a very small amount on 1 side, but don't do too much at once or you'll end up with a loose connection. You can coax the leather into a round shape; with use it will happen naturally over time. Repeat all the steps to make 3 additional napkin rings.
I loved styling this dining room scene for the book - the dyed linen tablecloth, cotton napkins, and leather napkin rings are so beautiful together. You can find the tutorials for the Heirloom Linen Tablecloth and Indigo Striped Napkins, shone above, in A Well-Crafted Home.
All photos by Julia Wade Photography