Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dying and Finishing Leather

I've been having a lot of fun dying stuff this past week. Dying is a fun and easy process in leather and can be done in a few minutes. This allows you to create custom looks or one of a kind colors particular to your project or needs. Most professional leather makers use them and then put a finish on top. There are several major kinds of dyes. The two most common are oil and alcohol.

Oil dye is generally considered better as it does not fade over time and holds hue better. The downside is it comes in more limited colors. It generally comes in natural hues. Fiebings makes great oil dyes. You can buy it in small 4 oz. quantities for testing and larger amounts for commercial applications. You don't need a lot for a particular job so a few ounces is often more than enough.

If you're planning to do fun colors, you will want to use alcohol dyes. They come in a variety of colors including green, red, purple, yellow, and others. The green is my favorite. You can purchase dyes at most shoe repair shops, sears, walmart, and my favorite: Tandy's Leather. A small bottle will run you $2-6 on average.
Now, you have the bottle, what do you do? Taking a paintbrush, slowly apply the dye in clean even strokes. You can pick up a bunch cheaply at dollar tree. The post before this is a great 4 min tutorial on how to do so. When you finish applying the dye, allow to dry. If the color is too light, you can reapply for a darker shade. Then
Next, consider if you want to apply a finish or not. Finishes come in a variety of styles. Wax is popular as well as acrylic sprays. Acrylic sprays can leave a plastic feeling finish sometimes so some artists avoid it. You will need to decide it for yourself. At the end you have a custom leather piece all your own.
Have a great day. Til our next post.

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