How to use Cricut's debossing tool to make a leather hair barrette shaped like a paint palette.

How to Make a Debossed Leather Barrette Using the Cricut Debossing Tool

It’s a game-changer for the small maker. Cricut has come out with a debossing tool that will depress materials like leather, foil, and soft wood. As someone who LOVES working with leather, I did a little dance. After all, this should allow me to make digital designs, then use them to deboss and cut out (using the knife blade) leather! In theory. So I started to test the possibilities. And in the process of experimenting, I figured out a few little tips and tricks to make the process easier. The end results were pretty awesome! So awesome, in fact, that I decided I had to create this tutorial to show you how to make a debossed leather barrette with a stick using the Cricut Debossing Tool, too!

In the video below, you’ll see how to download the design and cut files from my Creative Resource Library, and then upload them into Cricut’s Design Space. I’ll show you how to prepare the files in Design Space, and then how to deboss and cut the leather using the Cricut Maker. Next, you’ll see how to add the details that really make a pro-looking product. Finally, we’ll paint the leather and seal it. This really is an easy, but artsy looking product that would make a great gift! Enjoy!

What is Debossing?

Debossing is pressing down on a material to cause a depression in it. This is similar to embossing, which is a more familiar term to crafters. Except embossing is creating a raised surface on a material. In paper crafting embossing is achieved manually by flipping the paper over and debossing the back of it. It’s a way to add decoration or design to your project.

Cricut’s new Debossing Tool uses the power of the Cricut Maker to press the tool into the surface of your material. The tool has a little rolling ball that glides over the material as it debosses it. It also has the Quick Swap Housing, which means that the tip is interchangeable with other tips in the series. If you have the Scoring Wheel then you already have the Quick Swap Housing and would only need to purchase the tip. Win!

Project: How to Make a Debossed Leather Barrette with Paint Brush Stick.

Supplies and Tools

To Paint, Seal, and Finish the Barrette


Step One: Download the Digital Files.

Open up the Creative Resource Library. For access to the library you’ll need the password. You’ll get that instantly when you sign up through one of the opt-in’s on this page. Scroll down until you reach Templates. We want “Paint Palette Design” and “Paint Palette Shape.”  Right-click and save to your downloads.

how to upload a file into cricut design space
Choose Upload and then Browse

Step Two: Upload Files into Design Space.

First, go to Cricut’s website, and if you haven’t used it before you’ll need to create a login. If you’ve already done that, open up Cricut Design Space and choose “new canvas.” Click the “upload” option from the toolbar on the left side of the web page. Choose “browse.” This should open up your files. I check recents, and both files are there as .png files titled “Paint Palette Design.png” and “Paint Palette Shape.png.” Choose the design file to work with first.

How to process an image in design space
Choose Simple and Continue

Step Three: Process the .png images.

Design Space will open the file, and a screen will appear that will ask you if you want to clean up the file. It should be fine to use, so you can click continue. If there are ever any stray marks on your files, you can click on the magic wand and then touch the squares on the background. That will automagically clear your background. It’s pretty neat.

How to save as a cut image in Cricut program
Save as a Cut image and Save

On the next screen, you’ll be asked to choose between a “cut file” and a “print then cut file.” You want to choose cut. Do that by making sure the edge of the square that says “save as cut image” is green. Name the file and save to your uploaded images.

Repeat this process for the second file, “Paint Palette Shape.png.”

How to insert images in Design Space
Select and hit Insert Images

Step Four: Add files to canvas and choose their action.

In your uploaded images, click on the “Paint Palette Shape” file we just processed and then choose “insert images” in the lower right of the screen. This will open it up into your canvas.

How to change a shape's color in Cricut Design Space.
Choose a color for the box next to the linetype.

Change the color of the cut shape by going to “linetype” and click on the square of color to the right of it. Choose a lighter color to make the layering in the next step easier.

How to change an image to deboss. How to deboss an image in Cricut.
Change Linetype to Deboss.

Next, repeat with the “Paint Palette Design” file. With the image selected, go to the “linetype” that says “cut” and choose “deboss” from the drop-down menu.

How to resize an image appropriately in Design Space
Resize the shapes.

Step Five: Resize the images.

Move the palette design, so it is over the palette shape. If needed, resize the design, so that you have a little border space around the design. Select both images, and in the size box change the width to 3.5″. This will automagically change the height.

How to insert a circle into Design Space to create a hole in jewerly.
Select shape and insert a circle.

Step Five: Add the punch holes.

Go to the shapes icon on the left-hand side of the screen. Click on that and choose the circle.

How to size and duplicate a shape in Cricut.
Size and duplicate.

With the circle selected, go into the size box on the top toolbar again and type in “.25” into the width box. That will size the circle smaller.

Right-click on the circle shape and you’ll have the chance to duplicate the shape. Do that. Select one circle shape, and move it to the left side of your barrette. Then move the other one to the right side.

Position them so they are in the holes in the palette as shown in the pic and the video.

FYI – This is an optional step, because you can choose to forego the hair sticks and instead glue a silver barrette clip to the back of your leather shape, after it’s been debossed and cut.

How to select and attach shapes in Cricut's Design Space. How to make a leather barrette.
Select all shapes and attach.

Step Seven: Attach and save your project.

Select all your images and choose “attach” at the bottom of the screen. Then in the size boxes in the toolbar at the top of your screen, type into the width box “3.5”. This will automagically adjust the height to keep the proportions correct.

How to name and save a project in Design Space.
Choose Save project and then Make it!

Before you click “Make it,” go ahead and save your project by choosing the word “save” at the top right side of your screen. This will prompt you to name your project and add any tags you’d like, and then click “save.” This will now be stored under “my projects,” and if you were to look for this a second time, you’ll find it on the home page under categories and “my projects on the web.” 

Now, in the upper right corner of the screen select the green “Make it” button. We’re almost there!

Step Eight: Ready the leather for debossing.

Use your rotary cutter, cutting mat, and cutting ruler. Cut a piece of leather approximately 4.5″ x 5″.

Lightly wipe a slightly damp paper towel onto your leather. Wipe it off right away, so that it doesn’t soak in too deeply. It will slightly change the color. Let it sit a few minutes until the leather returns to its normal color. It should still be slightly cool to the touch. This step allows the debosser to press a little more deeply into the leather.

If however, the leather is too damp, the debosser will get stuck in the design. You may need to cancel it at this point and start over. If this happens to you, play around with it to see if you can restart it.

Tape your piece down in the center of your strong grip mat with painter’s or masking tape. Try not to overlap the leather too much. The tape does damage the surface of the leather when you peel it off. Press down securely. If your mat is well used, then go ahead and use a brayer to make it just a little more secure.

Step Nine: Position your design on the mat.

Back in Cricut’s Design Space! On the screen, you’ll see a representation of your mat with your design on it. You can click on this design and this will allow you to reposition it on the mat. According to the rulers on the mat image, align your design with where your leather piece is taped to your actual mat. (OR if you’d rather, you can take advantage of the snap mat feature on an iOS device.)

Debossed and cut leather hair barrette
Debossed and Cut!

Step Ten: Get ready to deboss like a boss.

Make sure your Cricut Maker is connected. Then select “tooling leather 6-7oz.” from the materials option. Load your mat. Place your debossing tool in the quick swap housing in clamp “b” as prompted. When ready, press the “Go” button on your Cricut Maker.

Step Eleven: Cut the barrette in the leather.

Once it’s done debossing, the machine will pause and you’ll be prompted on-screen to switch out your debossing tool for your knife tool. Don’t unload the mat. Switch the tools and then press the “Go” button again.

The Cricut will take approximately 16 passes with the knife blade. In my experience, it has quit a couple of times before it completed all of the passes. I just follow the instructions on the screen and it works out. So don’t worry if this happens.

Remove your cut and debossed leather paint palette from the mat. I feel like we should pause and do some jazz hands or fist bump. I mean, how COOL is this???

Create your own look!

Step Twelve: Paint your palette.

Okay, now is the fun, artistic part of the project. It’s really pretty simple to paint these. Just follow the debossed lines. If you choose to paint the whole palette white, I suggest you do it kind of lightly. Part of the beauty of these is the debossing. If you paint too thickly you’ll lose the imprint.

In the video, I demonstrate a few different ways to paint the leather and give you some insider tricks on painting small.

I’m using Multi-Surface Paints craft paints. The best thing about these is that I’ve been able to use them with wood, metal, canvas, ceramics, glass, and leather. Which means, I’ve avoided buying special paints created for each specific material. Win! I also demo paint pens from American Crafts and the Jane Davenport paint over pens in the video.

Step Thirteen: Lightly sand the top of the leather.

One of the ways to bring that debossing back after painting is to lightly sand over the top of your piece. When you do this, it takes the top layer of paint off the raised parts first which gives it a naturally distressed look. It also makes the pattern more visible. Personally, I like this a lot. Worn leather is one of my favorite things in life, it’s just so comfortable seeming.

Step Fourteen: Burnish the edges.

With a slightly damp paper towel, gently wipe the edges of the leather shape. Using the edge slicker, rub the edges until they are rounded and slightly compacted. This is a simple thing to do that makes a HUGE difference in the finished product. If you plan to create to sell, this is something you really want to do.

Step Fifteen: Apply a sealer over the top of the leather.

Shake up the leather sealer. Using the woolen dauber, brush lightly across the surface of your leather. Allow it to dry. I used Satin Shene in this photo. If you like a little more gloss, try the Super Shene!

Paint markers that work on leather. | How to paint leather.
Sealed with Eco-Flo Satin Shene Sealer for a subtle finish.


Whoo-hoo!!! You cut and debossed like a boss! A super awesome, artsy boss that will have the coolest handmade hair accessory ever.

To wear the hair barrette grab an old paintbrush and put it through the cut holes, weaving it through a loose bun in your hair. It’s simple and artful.

But not only is this little debossed and painted leather palette artistic and creative, it’s also a subtle statement to the world that you are comfortable with being a little unconventional – a little more creativea little more you.

How to wear hair sticks | Artistic hair styles | How to make a leather hair bun sticks
This may call for an art date soon!

For more inspiration.

Interested in more leather projects? I have some killer tutorials in the works. In the meantime, be sure to check out my DIY Leather Crafts board on Pinterest! To learn more about leather crafting, check out my favorite book on the subject, LeatherCrafted: A Simple Guide to Creating Unconventional Leather Goods by Caitlin McNamara Sullivan.

Also, if you would like to know more about the Debossing Tool, Hey Let’s Make Stuff has a great post on How to Use the Cricut Maker Debossing Tool. You can also check Cricut’s official page for the Debossing Tool to get all the technical information and F.A.Q’s.

If you found this post helpful, I would LOVE to have you share it! I would also love to have you make this little paint palette hair barrette with a stick. If you think you might, or you have any other ideas of what you can’t wait to try with this tool, please leave a comment below! Thanks for reading!!!

wellcraftedtstudio | Jen Swift

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2 thoughts on “How to Make a Debossed Leather Barrette Using the Cricut Debossing Tool”

    1. Hi Shirley,
      Yes! In fact that’s what most people use it for. The tutorials out there usually demo it Debossing but I played around and figured out that if you put a layer of craft foam under your paper on your mat then you can create an emboss (raised area) on the reverse. It’s how a lot of big shotz emboss.

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