Did a search but didn’t find this particular thing addressed. I put some lightweight paper masking on a piece of veg. tanned leather and cut a piece out. Afterward, I removed the masking (which comes off very easily compared to the masking on PG leather) and dyed the piece. There are blotches in the color. Does anyone know if it was the masking that created them?
Any pictures of the problem?
Apply some to half of a piece of scrap for a while, then remove and dye the whole thing?
I guess that will only help if the blotching is uniform…
I mean, there’s certainly a chance, but I’m betting tanning leftover schmutz is more likely. If I care about the evenness of finish I’ll clean my leather before dying to try and limit that, but leather is variable by nature so sometimes it’s inevitable.
I’ve never gotten an even color on the stuff that I’ve dyed…you need to be asking @jae. She gets it right somehow. (I think you’re supposed to wet it evenly but not saturated to make the dye flow.)
It’s interesting that you say that as the very first piece I dyed (while still testing and experimenting), I dampened first with water and then it did come out even. More testing is in the works, I can see. Thanks.
This seems like a sound theory. I know you’ve done a lot with leather, so I appreciate the input.
Awe… I’m blushing
For me, if I want a solid, even color, I do two things:
Give the piece of leather a nice oil bath. Dry leather is thirsty leather and getting some Neatsfoot oil onto a piece is a good first step in dealing with the ‘thirsty.’ I’m not kidding about “bath” either. Typically, I’ll dip (quickly), wipe off the excess, then set it aside to dry / even out overnight. This was one of my recent projects right after oiling. You can see that some of those pieces are lighter in some spots than others, but once they’d set overnight, it had largely evened out as the oil soaked it’s way through the leather.
Give it a nice bath in dye. For a really even consistent color, I want the leather to soak up dye until it says “I’m not thirsty anymore” and dip dying is a good way to get there quickly without wasting a ton of dye. Here’s the same project after dip dying.
And these are the pieces right part way through assembly:
There’s no singular “right way.” Chuck Dorsett over at Weaver Leather Supply did a tutorial video that’s pretty similar to what I do that you can check out here.
But he also did a video series on five other dying techniques that you can find here…
and I’ve done most of them and they work about as well as you’d expect (which is to say that some are better than others if the desired outcome is even consistent color but you may not always want that.)
There’s one other thing though… sometimes, no matter what you do, the natural variations in the piece of leather will prevent it from dying evenly and lighter colors will show variation more than darker colors.
This was one of my recent projects:
See that spot on the piece in the top right? The lighter looking blotch? I went back and hit that spot with a cloth a few more times to get it to even out a bit and it got considerably closer to consistent with the rest of the piece, but there’s still an area that just didn’t take the dye as well as the rest. When that happens… embrace the “rustic” look and let the rest of your craftsmanship speak for itself.
The dye on this bag was far from perfect… but all I ever heard anyone say about it was that it felt like a great bag and the stitching was impressive. At the end of the day, I figure that if people wanted machine perfection, they’d go buy something mass produced and machine processed. For me, if I’ve done my best and the material has said ‘no’ … okay, then it’s time to embrace what the material wants to be and help it to display its own unique character.
Hey, @jae…thank you for all your leather wisdom and knowledge…and for sharing the knowledge of others with me. I’m in leather infancy right now, so I have a long way to go and a lot to learn. I really appreciate you taking the time to help answer my question.
Just here to say that the results, up close and in person, speak for themselves. Jae’s technique is incredible!
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