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I am working on a Saihai-prop for a LARP and I want to wrap it in a way that imitates a Stingray skin on the handle. However some stingray skins can't be traded legally under the Washington treaty, so I need to substitute for the real stuff. I technically could buy pearl-ray skin, which is legal, but that would mean I need to get a lot more of the leather than I actually need: the handle only is about 150 mm long and about 50 mm in circumference.

How can I make an imitation of the bubbly texture of rounded domes that is characteristic for a stingray skin, which can then be wrapped around a wooden handle?

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  • A rather natural and realistic looking imitation you can opt for, is real leather that has been made to look like stingray leather. This is bonded leather, and made by pressing leather scraps mixed with a binder, often rubber. This specific imitation is quite hard to find, though.

  • There are also faux leather alternatives (polyurethane and PVC) to this.

Bonded leather (source)                              Faux leather (i.c. PU) (source)                  Silicone mold (source)                                 
  • Alternatively, you might be able to create a material with the texture of stingray leather using a silicone mold.
    For a pliable material, you can cast with silicone (be sure to use a release agent; see also this question), or polymer clay, as Elmy suggests in the comments.
    You can dye the material, and probably - I haven't tried this, and it might not work well with a surface that will be handled a lot - roughen it up using sandpaper, so it loses a little more of its sheen in order for it to be more leather-like in appearance.

    If you want to use latex instead of silicone, you have to make your own negative mold (creating a positive silicone mold and using plaster to create a negative one, for example).

  • For a cheaper method, you might be able to stamp an anti-slip material, which regularly come with tiny domes on their surface (see image below), onto clay to create a mold.

    enter image description here
    source

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    Please be aware that the "silicone texture" is a silicone mat with the negative texture, designed to imprint polymer clay and other soft materials. You do not get the leather-like pieces that are held in the hand, but the light blue mat in the background. – Elmy Jun 14 at 4:24
  • Thank you for pointing that out, @Elmy! I will mend it later. – Joachim Jun 14 at 6:21
  • It still is a viable option for OP if they're ok with wrapping the handle in polymer clay instead of a textile. And properly cured polymer clay might stay intact longer than faux leather, which often plits into its individual layers after prolonged skin contact. – Elmy Jun 14 at 6:41
  • Neat ideas, but oddly enough, that actually costs more than the pearl-ray leather as rests @.@ – Trish Jun 14 at 16:37
  • @Trish I was writing a comment, and suddenly thought of something else and added it: might the last option in my answer help suppress the price? – Joachim Jun 15 at 8:03

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