Monday, April 7, 2014

Customer Questions: Leather Colors



Q: How do you color/paint/dye(??) the designs onto the leather?

A: It always makes me laugh when people say “Do you have any of the Antique Black leather left?”  or “Do you have any blue leather?”

It’s a reasonable enough question, right?  Most commercial leather is chromium tanned and color is added to the leather during the tanning process.  The leather that I use is vegetable tanned – no artificial colors (or flavors) added!  So, I laugh when people ask me if I have a specific color of leather because all my leather is the same color.  That is, until I dye it.

I will cover exact techniques in step-by-step in my leathercraft book (to be published by F+W Media in 2015), but here’s a quick explanation of how the pattern gets on most of my pieces.


First I sketch the pattern onto the leather, all freehand, then I burn it in using a branding iron.  The next step is paint – I use a water-based leather paint and craft store brushes (if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll know I take horrible care of my brushes so cheap ones are better!).


After the piece is painted I apply a dye to the entire leather.  My favorites are the Gel Antique Stains, since they allow the colors of the paint to show through without muddying them.  Then I apply a topcoat to keep them colorfast. And, voila!



Finished, colorfast, bad-ass Scarlet Leather and Stainless Steel Flask.  Cow skull, roses. Handmade in the USA.  Available at

Happy crafting!


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