I thought I'd try something a bit different and do as close to a step by step set of pictures as I can manage on one of my larger pieces. I can't find the pictures of the early steps, prepping the design to get it ready for transferring to the leather, if I find them I will put them up as a separate entry.
This piece is one that I've wanted to make for some time now, since I saw the spiral of leaves that looked somewhat like a fern to me. It comes from the Dover book Victorian Floral Designs which is a reprint of Suggestions in Floral Designs by F. Edward Hulme originally published in 1880. Like most Dover books you can use a certain number of designs without permission and if you have an interest in Victorian design I really recommend it.
Here is the moment before I began to transfer the design to the tooling leather. The leather has been rubber cemented to poster board to keep it from stretching and deforming when it is tooled, and has been sprayed with water. I always cut the poster board at least an inch or two larger that the tooling leather on each side because it gives me enough space to staple the tracing film to it to keep the pattern in place as you see in the picture above. The next step is to trace over the design on the tracing film with a stylus which will engrave the design into the damp leather. (And yes it can end up being a lot of tracing with some projects, on this one I will end up tracing this design 7 times. )
And this is the transferred design, as you can see the ferns and lines are engraved into the leather, this will give me the guidelines I need when I start my carving and tooling. But not quite yet because I want the design to repeat across the cover so I will be transferring it 4 more times.