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How To Tie Dye And Dip Dye Leather


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#1 avid learner

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 01:53 AM

Hello,

I am so happy to have found this forum! I spent the weekend doing lots of reading here and decided I should join!


I am very new to working with leather but I think I have already been bitten by the leather bug before I have even begun.

I am hoping someone could help me in choosing the correct dyes to use for dip dying and tie dying leather. I have attached some images to show you the types of effects I am trying to achieve.

Any help or suggestions would be really appreciated.

Thank you so much!!

Attached File  hand tie dyed leather.jpg   25.34KB   182 downloads Attached File  il_570xN.243012548.jpg   80.97KB   185 downloads Attached File  tie dyed leather 2.jpg   182.82KB   163 downloads Attached File  for ayu.jpg   133.56KB   155 downloads Attached File  1_ddlp.jpg   22.64KB   163 downloads
Attached File  tiedye2.jpg   49.62KB   143 downloads

#2 BillB

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 06:41 AM

Avid Learner,
I have never tie dyed leather but I do dip dye things that I want a solid and penetrating dye applied to. The dye's I prefer to use are from Fiebing. You can research them by going to www.fiebing.com. Today there are a number of different bases that are used for dye's: oil, alcohol, acrylic and water. For my uses, the bases does make a difference. You may want to buy a sample from each in the same color and do some experimenting to determine which base works best. I have also found that some bases, such as water, require that you also put a finish on the leather to lock in the color so it does not bleed.

BillB
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#3 avid learner

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 09:01 PM

Avid Learner,
I have never tie dyed leather but I do dip dye things that I want a solid and penetrating dye applied to. The dye's I prefer to use are from Fiebing. You can research them by going to www.fiebing.com. Today there are a number of different bases that are used for dye's: oil, alcohol, acrylic and water. For my uses, the bases does make a difference. You may want to buy a sample from each in the same color and do some experimenting to determine which base works best. I have also found that some bases, such as water, require that you also put a finish on the leather to lock in the color so it does not bleed.

BillB


Thank you so much for your reply Bill.

I will start looking into Fiebing. Many thanks!




#4 avid learner

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 10:37 PM

Hi again,

I was wondering Bill, when you say that the bases don't make a difference - does this mean I could use something like RIT dye to dye leather - especially when I am going for a wash effect?

has anyone used fabric dyes like RIT on leather?

Also, I am trying to find out whether leather is a protein? Or cellulose?

Thanks again,

AL




#5 BillB

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 06:21 AM

AL,
The bases do make a difference at least in my experience. I have not tried fabric dyes like RIT on leather. Here are some things you should think about:

1. Leather is not a fabric. Leather is the skin of a animal that has been put through a preservation process called tanning. This process uses chemicals (natural in some process and man made in other) to achieve this function. Any chemical residue can have a reaction any dyes, preservatives or finishes. Fabric, on the other hand is woven (unless it is a felt like material) from threads. Each thread is a column or strand of fibers that have been twisted together in the spinning process.

Why is this important? Each thread in a woven material can act as a wick to move the dye into the material.How it moves into the material will depend on the components of the thread and how they are woven together. Leather is a mesh of individual cells. How a liquid is wicked into the leather can, at times, appear to be random.


2. How thick is the leather I am going to dye.
3. How much penetration do I want on the dye, i.e. surface dye or all the way through or only part way through. If I am making a "work" holster that will get used and abused, then I want the dye to penetrate all the way through the leather so that when the leather gets scared. If I am doing something that needs to have a surface appearance of being painted (Like a service logo for the USAF) I will use an acrylic dye that behaves more like a surface paint.
4. How much control do I want on how the dye spreads through the leather.
5. Does the dye base match the intended use. For example if I am making something that is going to see a lot of outdoor use and be exposed to weather (rain, snow, mud, dirt) and will receive a lot of cleaning and oiling, then I will use an oil base or alcohol base dye since my experience is that these bases have the best penetration into the leather and lock the dye to the leather fibers (less chance of the dye running)

Since I do one of a kind custom items, I keep a collection of dyes that I have found that work for me. These include some from all the different bases (oil alcohol, acrylic, water). Again. my suggestion for you is to buy a small bottle of the same color from each of the bases and do some testing to determine which types work best for your application.

By the way, I will also use different dye bases on the same piece depending on the affect I am trying to achieve.

I hope this helps.

BillB
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#6 avid learner

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 10:07 PM

Dear Bill,

I really really appreciate your detailed explanation. There is so much information out there I feel a little over whelmed.

I am about to purchase the book How To Color Leather by Al Stohlman and have been also reading up on past threads in relation to dyes.

You are right - I think I just have to experiment by actually testing them. it is hard to get these dyes in Indonesia so I have to get someone to buy in Australia and then send them over that way. I am going to purchase the following (in smallest bottles for now):

Eco-Flo
Feiblings Professional Oil dye (is this the pro oil that people speak highly of?)
Feiblings Leather dye. There is also a Feiblings Institutional Dye option too. Not too sure of the difference
Eco Flo Cova Colour
Feiblings Acrylic dye

A finisher - Eco Flo satin Sheen? - Do you think this is a good choice? or Mink oil?

A thinner? - Can I use denatured alcohol? Or water to thin?

Again Bill, I really appreciate your detailed explanation. Now I just have to get my hands dirty and actually try everything!

Thanks,
AL


AL,
The bases do make a difference at least in my experience. I have not tried fabric dyes like RIT on leather. Here are some things you should think about:

1. Leather is not a fabric. Leather is the skin of a animal that has been put through a preservation process called tanning. This process uses chemicals (natural in some process and man made in other) to achieve this function. Any chemical residue can have a reaction any dyes, preservatives or finishes. Fabric, on the other hand is woven (unless it is a felt like material) from threads. Each thread is a column or strand of fibers that have been twisted together in the spinning process.

Why is this important? Each thread in a woven material can act as a wick to move the dye into the material.How it moves into the material will depend on the components of the thread and how they are woven together. Leather is a mesh of individual cells. How a liquid is wicked into the leather can, at times, appear to be random.


2. How thick is the leather I am going to dye.
3. How much penetration do I want on the dye, i.e. surface dye or all the way through or only part way through. If I am making a "work" holster that will get used and abused, then I want the dye to penetrate all the way through the leather so that when the leather gets scared. If I am doing something that needs to have a surface appearance of being painted (Like a service logo for the USAF) I will use an acrylic dye that behaves more like a surface paint.
4. How much control do I want on how the dye spreads through the leather.
5. Does the dye base match the intended use. For example if I am making something that is going to see a lot of outdoor use and be exposed to weather (rain, snow, mud, dirt) and will receive a lot of cleaning and oiling, then I will use an oil base or alcohol base dye since my experience is that these bases have the best penetration into the leather and lock the dye to the leather fibers (less chance of the dye running)

Since I do one of a kind custom items, I keep a collection of dyes that I have found that work for me. These include some from all the different bases (oil alcohol, acrylic, water). Again. my suggestion for you is to buy a small bottle of the same color from each of the bases and do some testing to determine which types work best for your application.

By the way, I will also use different dye bases on the same piece depending on the affect I am trying to achieve.

I hope this helps.

BillB



#7 BillB

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 08:21 AM

AL,
Most Dyes and Finishes of the ECOFLOW name are water base and you should be able to use water to thin and clean.

Fiebings Leather Dye is alcohol base, where as the Institutional Leather Dye is water base.

As for thinners and cleaners, I am pretty sure that the Oil Base and Alcohol base dyes can be thinned with the same thinner. If you are buying a locally supplied thinner, then do a small test by taking a small amount of thinner and and using an eye dropper, drop a single drop of dye into the small amount of thinner and watch to see how it dissolves. If it stays as a glob suspended in the thinner, it won't work.

As for finishes, I prefer something like Mink Oil. My past experience with the "sheen" type finishes is that it leaves a plastic coating on the surface of the leather. This seals the leather and does not allow it to breath. For some applications this may be useful where as in others it can promote rotting from the inside out.

Have you considered locally produced wood stains? Wood is closer to the structure of leather than material is and if it is a penetrating stain, it should work. Don't use any thing that is just a surface coating since it will not penetrate.

In the old old days, Native Americans made their dies from flowers, fruits, etc. I don't know if there are any of those types of dyes available available in your local area. You might look to some of your local artisans that do wood working.

Good Luck and let us all know how well it works out and what you finally use. And please continue learning and asking questions, it helps us grow.

BillB
Bill B. Nead

#8 avid learner

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 11:37 PM

Dear Bill,

Thank you so much again for your detailed reply. I am learning so much so thanks a lot.

I just had someone buy one of everything (nearly!) back in Australia and they will arrive over here next Wednesday with friends who are visiting. I can't wait to test everything out. Until then I have to be patient.

That is a great idea with regards to wood stains. I really appreciate that tip. There is a big wood industry here (furniture, carving etc - teak is Indonesian native) so that is something for me to explore. I have not been able to find a leather working scene over here unfortunately.

Thanks for your tips on thinners and finishes as well. it's great having my questions answered!

Look forward on updating how it all went and contributing to this forum myself eventually.

AL


AL,
Most Dyes and Finishes of the ECOFLOW name are water base and you should be able to use water to thin and clean.

Fiebings Leather Dye is alcohol base, where as the Institutional Leather Dye is water base.

As for thinners and cleaners, I am pretty sure that the Oil Base and Alcohol base dyes can be thinned with the same thinner. If you are buying a locally supplied thinner, then do a small test by taking a small amount of thinner and and using an eye dropper, drop a single drop of dye into the small amount of thinner and watch to see how it dissolves. If it stays as a glob suspended in the thinner, it won't work.

As for finishes, I prefer something like Mink Oil. My past experience with the "sheen" type finishes is that it leaves a plastic coating on the surface of the leather. This seals the leather and does not allow it to breath. For some applications this may be useful where as in others it can promote rotting from the inside out.

Have you considered locally produced wood stains? Wood is closer to the structure of leather than material is and if it is a penetrating stain, it should work. Don't use any thing that is just a surface coating since it will not penetrate.

In the old old days, Native Americans made their dies from flowers, fruits, etc. I don't know if there are any of those types of dyes available available in your local area. You might look to some of your local artisans that do wood working.

Good Luck and let us all know how well it works out and what you finally use. And please continue learning and asking questions, it helps us grow.

BillB







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