Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mottling / Marbling / Dyeing leather


I was custom-dyeing a leather for a job last night, and had dye left over on the table. So, I decided to record the leather dyeing process that I've developed over the years. BUT I failed. The lighting in my bindery is awful for taking photos, and the particular place where I dye leather has the most horrible lighting situation that creates light reflections all over the leather surface on the pictures. Well, I'll have to figure out how to deal with the stupid lights in the future. Though it became obvious that I couldn't record the process, as I didn't wanna waste the dye, I just went ahead and created some mottled leather pieces for future use. Since I usually custom dye leather for specific jobs I work on, I don't really have much liberty to be creative. But because those that I made last night didn't have any "requirements", I just made them as I felt like it. Anyway, it's very hard to explain exactly how I dye leather with words because there's not "1,2,3" instruction to it. All I can say is "Experiment with dye!", and make sure to treat the leather at the end so that the dye doesn't come off. (Rub the surface with a dry rug real well, and take off the excess dye, and after it's done, use a wet rug and rub it. If the dye comes off, it's NOT good. Keep doing the Dyeing/rubbing until the dye stays, then finish it by putting on the leather finish so that it's permanent.) Well, just using the leather dye, you can antique the leather like the ones I've posted on my blog (see the Custom Leather Dyeing on my label), as well as a marbling effect (top middle and two left pictures) or even  Pasta Española effect easily without using acid. (the top left & right). All dyed leather pieces on this post were created with the tan kidskin. (pictured on the right, second from the top.) Make sure to test the color on the leather before dyeing because the color you see in the dye gets dramatically different when it's applied on the leather. Anyway, have fun creating textures! 

14 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Jacek. Getting a compliment from you is such an honor. (blush*)

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  2. Wow, these are wonderful. The variety of textures and colors that you can obtain is amazing. Thank you for sharing your dyeing process and for taking photos during it. I am curious about how to do this properly since so long. Can I ask you a few questions :) What kind of dyes are you using, are they vegetable, or aniline? Do you degrease the surface or make any special treatment to the leather before you apply them? Thanks a lot for giving an insight into how to fixate the dye because that is indeed a big issue. In my experience I could never succeed to fixate it 100%. Some amount would still come off when rubbing if the surface is wet. And unfortunately I even worked with commercially dyed leathers that are losing color. So it is a problem. When you refer to apply a leather finish so that the dye is permanent, what kind of finish is it? And does it change the shine of the surface?

    PS: I love the clay cups that you keep your dye in!

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  3. Love the finishes on your leather, just beautiful. Could you please forward me that email on the process too! Thanks :)

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    1. Hello Jonathon,
      If I remember correctly, I didn't write down the exact process of my method of mottling leather that you might be expecting on the e-mail because there isn't really a 1.2.3 instruction that I can explain with words, really... Well, if you ever get a chance to visit the United States, (looks like you are from Australia?), let me know. I'll tell you where I work, and if the time is right, you may be able to see me working on one!

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  4. I love your work. Do you know if there is some book where I can learn how to dye leather. I would like to bind my books with leather like yours. Thank you. mpasquali@gmail.com

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    1. Hello Pasqua,

      Unfortunately, I don't know any commercially available book that has the instruction on the traditional bookbinding leather dying. That's why I've developed my own method over the years.

      Teo, a bookbinder from Portugal, has told me that she was taught one of the bookbinding leather dyeing method, Pasta Española from a master in person. If you like the dyeing effect, contact her through her site. :-) Her site is teostudio.blogspot.com

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  5. Thank you very much, I'll try. Please, when possible, could you post a video of you dyeing?
    Thank you for your videos, they are great. I have learned a lot from you.

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  6. Hi,MHR
    I hope you are back from your vacation:)
    I am so fascinated by your dyeing effect!And I am a little confused about how different dyeing style came out?
    Such as,motting effect is created by dabbing dye on the leather using a sponge(I found it on youtube,didn't know wether it is correct.).
    I have also seen some leather cover which has small dots on it which gave the leather a unique textile(do this effect have a name?).And I have no idea how the marbling effect is created.
    Do the diffrent effects caused mainly by different tools? I mean ,if I use different tools such as sponge,brushes...,could I create many different patterns on the leather?

    huhu:)

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    1. Hey Huhu,

      We came back from Canada last Friday, but I must leave for Portland area tomorrow for another week. I've been under stress to get as much jobs done for the last few days, so I just got your message. I'll get back to you about it when I get back next week.

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  7. Love your blog. I was wondering if there is a certain process that defines leather as bookbinding leather as opposed to garment leather. How would you choose leather to bind with?

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  8. I was looking for marble effect on leather and.. Yours is the most beautiful.I really want to learn how to make it !
    And I looked at your other restauration jobs... You're doing so well.

    It's so bad that you coulnd't record your process : (
    I see that you can't explain it as "1, 2, 3", but any help could be so kind for me...
    I hope you will be able to explain a little.
    Thanks a lot

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    Replies
    1. Well, all I can suggest is to play with what's available to you in terms of materials. ;-)

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  9. Your mottling effects are stunning! May I ask which brand of dyes you prefer? I'm excited to start playing around. :)

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