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August 23, 2012
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Undyed leather, and how to by Sharpener Undyed leather, and how to by Sharpener
Ok, since the recent few uploads of bracers (and other stuff) people started asking how to dye leather , what to use and if there are any specific hints I could share for the uninitiated, and how the pieces look before dyed and painted!

Well, taadaah, I present to you the baby-tush colored bracer of MoonShyne!

Aah, its just an uncolored bracer ok,..

Anyways, leatherdyeing is an artform believe me! Getting results like the antiqing shown in Wodenswolf's leatherwork or the overlapsing dyes of Azmals stuff is not easy!
Alas, beginning one's journey toward an OK result is not hard=) Almost every hardwaredealer focused on leather can supply you with all but any color you want.
Personally I usually order from Tandy's european office unless I need it pronto, then I go to a local artist's store and buy it.

There are many different manifacturers of dye. Some of the more famous and well used ones are Eco-Flo, Roc, Fieblings etc, but they all work basically the same.

Dyes are really thin ink-like colors to dye unfinished leather. You can either sponge an entire bottle onto a piece of leather or you can inlay with a petit brush to get mean depth! Rule of thumb though is to allways dye AFTER the patterns are set! Tool the leather until you dont want anymore details THEN begin dying!

I know, sometimes you want to see some results right away but DON'T O_ If you color the leather in stages like that chanses are the hues will differ from each other. Or if you lay a coat of color before tooling the bevelingareas might (WILL) get a lighter color, and nobody wants that effect. You want the deeper areas to go darker, but we'll come to that=)

To start off, make sure the leather is dry. You don't want any damp spots left on your leather, that can result in miscolorings as damp leather both water-out and lead dyeing-colors into places you might not want it, like the detailed patterns you just spent hours punching in. Wait until dry. Wait.


Anyways, when dying, its hard at first to get an even coat of dye the first dab. So apply rule no.2! Double dab.
The leather will go even darker when coloring the second time, but believe me, if you are using an OK dye, it will level out into an even color. Use a sponge if coloring an entire piece of leather, a small dabbing-sponge and a fine artists brush if you are coloring mediumsized areas and use an artists brush for minor details. The right color will present itself within an hour or so after dyed(if not dryed with a hairdryer)

When painting in details or inlaydying stuff try to use brushes that don't hold all that much paint. The more they hold the more they transfer onto the leather and if too much, the leather will sponge it up and might AGAIN guide the color into places you dont want it in=P
It's better to be patient and refill the gaps than to be impatiant and ruin the project..... I DO speak from experience..

When dual dying; If you want a piece with two colores, first use the color that is lighter. Lighter colores are allways more susceptible to darker paint and will show less of your mistakes, clumsyness when overlated=) If your second (or third or whatever) color is BLACK tho you need not worry as much as black can be painted over anything ofc=)

If you want a SHADING effect, ergo: a color fading into another color you will need a bottle of pharmaceutical alcohol to water out the paint with. Make several small batches and add more and more alcohol to make a shadingeffect=) Be careful with the alcohol aswell though, it tends to dry out the skin when handled and so, dries out the leather if not supervised! This is one teq that demands routine and practice, but if you MUST have dual-shaded pieces I recommend painting the pieces in whatever lighter color you want and then kind of drybrush(WH-reference) black dye onto it to create a shaded effect!

You can also shade leather even more effectively and more even by airbrushing the darker shades over the primary colors! Gives a very modern look to it and is not great if you want the classic leather-look, but if you are as some leatherworkers looking for the more industrial look of leather, or not the look of leather at all then airbrushing is great as it lays the paint on top of the surface instead of coloring the surface itself! Be sure to use good adhesive colors though and DO NOT USE THIS METHOD AFTER COATING THE LEATHER WITH A PROTECTIVE AGENT, as this will make it REAL hard for the airbrushed colors to bind with the leather=(


Now, OTHER means of coloring leather!
There are a number or products from most manifacturers called "Antique stains"(availible in most shades of brown, red and green and re alot thicker than regular dye)! These snug little bastards will help you not only to color your leather but als create depth to your engravings as this color gangs up in the cuts and punched lines and stay dark and mysterious! Tru story! Great for shadowing pieces=)

Now these are most often applied by sponge and paper in the product-descriptions, but personally I use a piece of cut out cellplastics (sleepingpad) to apply and distribute the stain over the leathersurface as one almost allways to overuse and wast paint if distributed with the sponge.
Now, DON'T pour directly onto the leather. That might leave darke stains=( Apply the stain to the piece of sleeping pad and with a circular motion apply it ti the surface of the leather. Be generous here, give the leather a fair amount so that you don't run out mid rub (B)). When applied to the entire piece of leather, use a sponge to lightly (and still in a circular motion) distribute the stain untill it is an even color.

Now, this has to be set by a leather setting agent (such as super shene, satin shene etc). This to prevent the dye and stains to blur out and stain skin, clothes and what not when using it.
IF you are satisfyed with the result you got from the antiquestain you should wait for atleast a couple of hours before using such an agent so that it is allowed to dry propperly and not smudge.
HOWEVER: IF you got a darker result than you wanted you can use this agent right after the stain is set (does not look damp anymore) and this will smudge the antiquestain into a more even, often LIGHTER look!=D Great teq if you want the leather too have a deep but brand new look to it=)

Antiquestains can be used OVER leather dye, but if you do so be aware that this will darken the colors more or less depending on what color you are using. If you want that cool red color and deep cut shadowing I suggest you buy and use an antiquestain in that color. However, IF you don't have that, or you want to apply such depth to alot of colors or colors that are not made in the antique-stain fasion I suggest you use a product called Hi-Lite.
It's kindof the same idea as the stain but it carries less color and is better for using over allready dyed areas=)


Setting agents: We touched the subject earlier but heres the full 411: You need these. Oh yea. I skipped these in the beginning too and it still looked great! In the beginning:S Then after some wear and tare they started to loose color, miscolor clothes I wore underneat and so on and so nineth. You need these because these make sure your stuff keep their looks! Is a kind of one-time botox for colored leather.
After you are done coloring and staining your leather you apply these. As allways WAIT UNTIL DRY (unless you overused the stains, blablaah) then apply and gently rub in with a sponge or piece of fake short-haired fur (actually works, who knew=S).

Here you can choose if you want a matt dull coating or a shiny glossy one. There are different types of settingagents for these uses. If you want some areas to be dull and some glossy you need to pri-coat the peather with a dull agent. Then by bruch or smaaaall sponge apply a leathershine. In either way, when dealing with glossingsubstances you need to gently keep rubbing the gloss into the surface untill it is completely set before adding more layers (IF you want even more gloss than you allready have ofc).
For the really brilliant ones out there who don't forget to add these to cart every time they shop there is a glossing spray aswell. Never tried it but it seems pretty legit=/

Last words: ALLOW TO DRY. Seriously, never forgive never forget that one.

Hope this answered SOME of the questions that I've recieved over the last few days!=)
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:iconthomasmphilip:
ThomasMPhilip Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2014
So glad I spotted this. I want to do some leather work for a personal project soon, so this is INCREDIBLY helpful. Now to find a how to for tooling.

Always good to see great artists share their experience.

:D
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:icontijonwolfsmajestys:
TijonWolfsMajestys Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Thank you So Much for this info! I just started getting into leather and i had NO idea where to start with dyeing! :tighthug: Major Thanks!
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:icondevianartcom2012:
devianartcom2012 Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2013
Inteeresting info, many important points.

Do you have experience with protective non-acrilyc coatings (super sheen is acrylic)? I'm asking because when you work with soft milled leather, and want to keep it soft, dye and acrylic coat harden the surface.

I'd like to keep it soft, so I'm thinking about oil-based dye and different (non-acrilyc), probably oil-based protective coat... Any suggestions?
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:iconsharpener:
Sharpener Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
Id say spray-on coats sounds like your thing! Or better yet, a protective wax if you come by one=)
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:icondevianartcom2012:
devianartcom2012 Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2013
Thanks for the idea, I'll try oil dye + Aussie Leather Conditioner.
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:iconrobinaa:
Robinaa Featured By Owner May 11, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
thank you so much for sharing all this info, its very helpful to me, working on some armor for myself and my husband and been very confused on what to do about they dyes and colors.
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:iconxzanaith:
Xzanaith Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2013
I wish I lived near you,if you would let me I would love to watch and learn! I have been making leather things for at least 30 years and some of the things you do I never even thought of.Keep it up,you have great talent!
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:iconcloverpatch:
cloverpatch Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Much appreciated information. Thank you.
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:iconopiezeffa:
opiezeffa Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2012
Just wanted to say thanks for the info and taking the time to pass it on. It's one thing to do something beautiful, but even more in being able to teach how. You rock.
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:iconmerrillsleather:
MerrillsLeather Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
your tooling is fantastic, i hope oneday to be able to achieve the detail and skill you show in your pieces. thank you for sharing
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