Kirin’s Collar WIP

Kirin’s Collar WIP

Kirin is a flashy dog brimming with attitude, and I wanted to make him a special collar that represents everything that he is. Kirin’s name is derived from “Qilin”, a Chinese mythical beast. Kirin’s collar features his namesake creature on an Art Nouveau style background, with a real moonstone as the centrepiece. I was inspired by the plethora of interesting stones to be found online, that I had to find a way to incorporate these in my collars. This is a new technique and will take some practice to perfect, but combined with an interesting tooled design, this should create quite a unique collar!

Kirin collar WIP
The collar itself has been cut from 8-9oz leather. The thickness will allow me to carve a nice bezel on the flesh side so the stone doesn’t protrude.

Kirin collar WIP
On Wikipedia, the Qilin is described as:

…a mythical hooved Chinese chimerical creature known throughout various East Asian cultures, and is said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a wise sage or an illustrious ruler.[1] It is a good omen that brings rui (Chinese: 瑞; pinyin: Ruì; Wade–Giles: Jui4; roughly translated as “serenity” or “prosperity”). It is often depicted with what looks like fire all over its body. It is sometimes called the “Chinese unicorn” when compared with the Western unicorn…

There are many different ways Qilin have been described. Some think of them as a rare form of unicorn; others have described it as a creature that has the head of a dragon and a body of tiger with scales. Others see it as a creature with a single horn on its forehead, a multicolored back, the hooves of a horse, the body of a deer, and with the tail of an ox.

It can even breathe fire, which leads me to think of the creature as an Eastern dragon/unicorn hybrid. This describes my Saluki boy quite well… he’s beautiful but fiesty.

Kirin collar WIP

The carving is starting to develop. Before the fire I had ordered a modeling tool from Peter Main, which was highly recommended by some of the figure carvers on the Leatherworker forum. Fortunately, it arrived after the fire, and I used it for the first time on this collar to model the muscles of the Qilin creature. I would consider Peter Main to be THE master leather figure carver, and I’ve idolized his work for a long time. It felt almost like receiving a personal autograph from a celebrity when the tool arrived. The tool can most succinctly be described as a double-ended modelling spoon, although the shape of the spoons allows you to achieve many different effects depending on the angle of use. It’s a wonderful tool, and would make for a great blog post on its own once I’ve had more time to experiment with it.

I’ll keep you posted! The collar is actually finished now, and turned out beautifully, though I’m still trying to photograph it in such a way that the moonstone flash shows up in the photo. Kirin wore it to the Saluki specialty and drew many positive comments!

2013-10-06T21:30:45+00:00WIPs|3 Comments


  1. Lisa June 16, 2014 at 3:43 am - Reply

    I love the background pebbling. May I ask what tool you used for this? I’m hoping to try my hand at this and start with a key fob or book cover LOL Right now I’m trying to sort out maybe 6-8 tools to start with and I’m lost most on the background tool

    • Julia June 18, 2014 at 6:31 pm - Reply

      Hi Lisa,

      The tool you’re looking for is a bargrounder (also called a grounder). They come in a variety of sizes. The most economical one you can find would be in the Tandy Craftool Pro series. I have the A2012, and you can sometimes find them on sale for $15 or so. If you’d like some different sizes and better quality, Barry King has a nice selection on his website. Of Barry King’s grounders (see, I have the 27-03, which has three of the mid-sized dots in a row. This is the grounder I use the most, and I hope to get some even smaller ones from him at some point.

      I hope this helps!

  2. Lisa June 19, 2014 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    Yes it does help and I appreciate it. I was considering ordering BK’s $400 tool kit he lists under ‘Recommended Size List’ and hoping this will be all-inclusive except for wanting another here or there as I go. Just don’t want to play the upgrade game and I can see this happening to where I end up spending more in the end.

Leave A Comment