Let's Learn How To Dye Leather
Can't find the color of leather you would prefer? Maybe you should try dyeing it!
Natural, unfinished leathers take dye easiest, making natural vegetable tanned leather one of the best options for customizing. You can certainly add color to already dyed pieces, but be warned that the process can take longer to achieve a color you are looking for and yield uneven results if not done properly. This also limits you to only being able to make a lighter color darker. Black cannot be dyed to another color (but you could certainly paint it).
To start, you will want to use a leather preparer/deglazer. While natural veg tan shouldn’t have a coating on it like most other finished leathers, this will just ensure that the piece you are dyeing is clean of oils and dust that may interfere with the dye saturation. However, if you are working with an already finished leather, you will need to deglaze to remove the finish so the dye can soak into the leather itself.
After your leather is deglazed, you're ready to add color. We sell Fiebings dye, which is a penetrating alcohol-based leather dye. It doesn’t hurt to test the dye on a scrap piece to figure out how to achieve your desired color. Two coats right out of the bottle might do, while for others, adding a dye reducer to tone down the color may be preferable. Once you’ve figured out your preference, you can apply the dye.
Once the dye has dried completely, you can choose to seal it with a number of different options (first, make sure to buff the piece with a clean cloth to remove any excess dye pigment).
Some folks like to finish with nothing but a leather conditioner or oil to help soften the leather again. Some like to apply conditioner and then apply a finish of their choosing and others will just jump straight to leather sealers. There are several options out there, so try out which process works best for you on some scrap! We recommend Resolene to finish your project, but we also carry Bag Kote! Be sure to apply it evenly, working out any bubbles or streaks that may occur. Use a clean, lint-free rag, sponge, paintbrush, or airbrush to apply your finish!
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