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Hey all!

I'm looking for advice on a problem I've been having for awhile.  Whether I use black dye (water or oil based), antiquing, edge coat, or whatever, my black doesn't stay black.  When I put a top protective coat on (resolene, super shene, satin shene, etc), the black wipes off leaving brown behind.

On this specific piece I tried one technique that didn't work and subsequently tried a second one that hasn't failed me too badly in the past.  Well, this time it did fail.  All my attempts (including my last one of over-dyeing the entire project) went bust.  I personally like the rustic look I wound up with, but it's not what my customer ordered.

So, two questions:

1. How do you keep your black vibrantly black?  What products or techniques work for you?
2. Any ideas on how to fix this specific piece?

Thanks,

Miranda
 

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This is the project of which I speak!

shark.jpg

sharky.jpg

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Wow I don't think I've seen it do that before. Maybe if you could give specific steps and products you used it would help narrow down an answer. It kind of looks like the black is scraping off, like its on top of a finish, or the dye wasn't dry.

Edited by JD62

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What type of leather are you using?

 

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I've seen this before, mostly on the Eco Flo high lighter/antique, but also on the water based dye, I found I needed to let it dry twice as long as I could stand before even thinking about resolene...I switched to spirit dye, and still let it dry real good, usually over night, then buff with a soft cloth to get and dust or left over dry color then very light coat of resolene... I'm guessing, but judging from the blue shark under, was this a highlighter?

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No good answer, but following this thread.

I recently had the exact same issue using Fiebing's USMC black on a knife sheath.  When I first dyed it and buffed it, some of the black came off, and I dyed it a second time.  I carefully avoided buffing it too hard, and it was totally black.  I applied neatsfoot oil, and a lot of the black came off.  The result was a nice reddish dark brown around the edges.  Really a nice rustic finish, but unfortunately not for a Marine knife sheath.  I started over.  dyed twice, let it dry overnight, carefully and lightly buffed it, and very carefully applied leather sheen.  It seems to have worked, I cross my fingers the black wont rub off with use.

Next time, vinegaroon.

Edited by MikeG
added

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My guess is that leather had to have some sort of prevention of penetration of the dye. Such as it was oil tanned or treated withsome oil prior to dying. Plain ole veg tanned leather won't do that normally with black dye in my experience. I am not one to put neatsfoot oil on leather prior to dying. I treat the pieces after the dying process.

I have had rub off with using black before, but not completely rubbing off. USMC is the worst at causing rub off in my experience. Some hides of veg tan do differently with black. Sometimes i get more rub off than I should with regular Pro Dye Fiebing's black, I will go over with Angelus jet black and it reduces it. Sometimes I have used Show Brown over black to reduce rub off during buffing. 

More info is need here from the OP to draw any more conclusions.

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21 minutes ago, Bodean said:

Thanks for the input, Bodean.

< USMC is the worst at causing rub off in my experience. >     --- That is good to know.  I have heard of using blue first and then the USMC black, but  I think I will be trying a different brand, like the Angelus. 

< I am not one to put neatsfoot oil on leather prior to dying. I treat the pieces after the dying process. >  ---  In my case it was two different pieces of veg tan.  Both were kind of vintage, so that may have some effect on the outcome.  I dyed both on untreated dry leather.  I also do not treat until after dyeing.

Interestingly, I have not had this rub off problem with any other dye colors.  And the USMC black is a recent purchase, so age shouldn't be a factor.

 

Edited by MikeG
italic for emphasis

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I've never tried it so I can't say for sure (I just use 2 coats) but the old timer who I worked with when I was just a boy always dyed his black (smooth surfaces, not matted or backgrounded) with a coat of deep purple first, letting it dry and buffing it before applying the black, just sayin.

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Thanks for the feedback, everyone!  Very helpful.

This was a strip of leather I bought from Tandy a couple years ago - just veg tanned.  I didn't put anything on it prior to using the black dye (spirits).  When that failed, I called in the antique and when that failed, I went with Eco Flo black dye.  Lots of drying in between.  The residue that's left behind is, in my experience, because of all the layers.

I'm not sure if there's any salvaging this piece, but I've "been there, done that" so many times with black, I figured I might as well reach out and see how I can improve my method.  I like the blue/purple idea and the reminder to dry, dry, dry is a good one - it's easy to get impatient when the project just needs to get done!  ;)

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8 minutes ago, farmkidkoko said:

Thanks for the feedback, everyone!  Very helpful.

This was a strip of leather I bought from Tandy a couple years ago - just veg tanned.  I didn't put anything on it prior to using the black dye (spirits).  When that failed, I called in the antique and when that failed, I went with Eco Flo black dye.  Lots of drying in between.  The residue that's left behind is, in my experience, because of all the layers.

I'm not sure if there's any salvaging this piece, but I've "been there, done that" so many times with black, I figured I might as well reach out and see how I can improve my method.  I like the blue/purple idea and the reminder to dry, dry, dry is a good one - it's easy to get impatient when the project just needs to get done!  ;)

Hmm, dunno on that one... Did you dampen the leather before the first dye?  I don't know if that would make a difference, just curious...

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5 hours ago, koreric75 said:

Hmm, dunno on that one... Did you dampen the leather before the first dye?  I don't know if that would make a difference, just curious...

No I didn't.  I've never even thought of that!  Do you do it?

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I don't. it doesn't make a difference in your situation any way. Just a suggestion. Take a small scrap piece of the leather you are using and test the dye out first before using it on your piece. It can give you an indication of how it will turn out ahead of time. We live and learn, lol.

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I took a close look at your work and the problem is simple...sharks don't live in Alberta! Actually it looks like you have a layer of something preventing the dye from penetrating the surface. The acrylic paint is more adhesive but you may find it also chips or peels off.

This week I had a wholesale order for 24 cases in brown, black, russet and natural. I always use drum dyed Wicket and Craig drum dyed veg tanned for colors and whatever I have lying around for the natural. I was edge coating the 24th item, a natural,  and it dripped ..waaaa.

I decided to try to dye the case black with USMC. It had no treatment other than having been cased, stamped then dried and wet formed and dried again. I slathered on the USMC using a wool dauber so it thoroughly soaked in and let it dry. I then gave it a second coat and let it dry thoroughly in the AZ sun (5% humidity and 103F).

I then buffed off the excess dye, making sure there was sold black below the excess. I then sponged on 50% resolene, which was absorbed into the dyed layer, dried again and the result was perfect. Better in fact, than the drum dyed. Last coat was a Feibings spray wax. Took less than 1/2 hour, plus dry time,  to save the case  and keep the customer happy. He sells more blacks than natural.

I have also noticed that different hides from Tandy take dyes differently. I have learned that it doesn't pay to use crappy materials. Only cheapskates can afford to make things twice.

Bob

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Fiebings Pro Oil Black.  I have never had a problem with it on the grain side.  Sometimes it takes a couple times to get the flesh side a good black, it wants to turn a blue if it's not dyed well.  But even then, it usually evens up when I apply finish to the flesh side.  I usually dampen my leather first, seems to help it go on better.  I do a lot of holsters with uneven dyeing, I like the character.  Except black, that is all or nothing.  And the Pro Oil has never let me down.  

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8 hours ago, farmkidkoko said:

No I didn't.  I've never even thought of that!  Do you do it?

I will on some pieces, I have some economy tooling leather that was dry as cardboard, before doing anything once I cut out my piece I applied some olive or jojoba oil, not a whole lot, just a couple of light coats, let it sit over night, then I'll case the leather so what I need to do for tooling, before I dye it I clean the surface with deglazer or lemon juice or whatever I have that fits. Once that is done I'll dye it, depending on the project either dauber, rag, sponge or air brush.  Here's a belt I did for my son, it's thinner for his band pants, but the black came out good.  It was some 4/5 oz Tandy veg from a double shoulder I think...TnP4Z8p.jpg

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Upvote for dampening the leather before dying. Dry leather is dense and will tend to prevent the dye from penetrating. If you dampen it, the fibers loosen up and that wetness helps the dye penetrate deeper into the leather for a better color.

Spirit dyes specifically need a little help in this area. The Fiebing's Pro dye is an oil-based colorant in a spirit-based medium, while USMC Black and its brethren are essentially just a powder floating in the spirit medium. If you apply spirit dyes to dry leather, the dye won't penetrate and you'll get a lot of rub-off after it dries. The Pro Oil dye penetrates better, but I still get better results with damp leather.

The guy who taught me recommended the Pro dye, and to apply neatsfoot oil the day before you dye, and let it sit overnight. Apply the dye, and let it sit overnight. Maybe go for a second coat on the third day if it needs it after buffing a bit.

For the USMC Black, my best results were to use Dye-Prep, then add a few drops of a leather conditioner to the dye, and apply the USMC while the leather was still damp. The guys at Springfield Leather did a video on black dyes that went over this process:

 

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On 5/10/2018 at 12:02 AM, BDAZ said:

I took a close look at your work and the problem is simple...sharks don't live in Alberta! Actually it looks like you have a layer of something preventing the dye from penetrating the surface. The acrylic paint is more adhesive but you may find it also chips or peels off.

This week I had a wholesale order for 24 cases in brown, black, russet and natural. I always use drum dyed Wicket and Craig drum dyed veg tanned for colors and whatever I have lying around for the natural. I was edge coating the 24th item, a natural,  and it dripped ..waaaa.

I decided to try to dye the case black with USMC. It had no treatment other than having been cased, stamped then dried and wet formed and dried again. I slathered on the USMC using a wool dauber so it thoroughly soaked in and let it dry. I then gave it a second coat and let it dry thoroughly in the AZ sun (5% humidity and 103F).

I then buffed off the excess dye, making sure there was sold black below the excess. I then sponged on 50% resolene, which was absorbed into the dyed layer, dried again and the result was perfect. Better in fact, than the drum dyed. Last coat was a Feibings spray wax. Took less than 1/2 hour, plus dry time,  to save the case  and keep the customer happy. He sells more blacks than natural.

I have also noticed that different hides from Tandy take dyes differently. I have learned that it doesn't pay to use crappy materials. Only cheapskates can afford to make things twice.

Bob

what kind of cases.  Shotshell?

 

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Musical instrument cases. The largest is around 30"

 

Bob

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On ‎2018‎-‎05‎-‎10 at 6:42 AM, TheCyberwolfe said:

Upvote for dampening the leather before dying. Dry leather is dense and will tend to prevent the dye from penetrating. If you dampen it, the fibers loosen up and that wetness helps the dye penetrate deeper into the leather for a better color.

Spirit dyes specifically need a little help in this area. The Fiebing's Pro dye is an oil-based colorant in a spirit-based medium, while USMC Black and its brethren are essentially just a powder floating in the spirit medium. If you apply spirit dyes to dry leather, the dye won't penetrate and you'll get a lot of rub-off after it dries. The Pro Oil dye penetrates better, but I still get better results with damp leather.

The guy who taught me recommended the Pro dye, and to apply neatsfoot oil the day before you dye, and let it sit overnight. Apply the dye, and let it sit overnight. Maybe go for a second coat on the third day if it needs it after buffing a bit.

For the USMC Black, my best results were to use Dye-Prep, then add a few drops of a leather conditioner to the dye, and apply the USMC while the leather was still damp. The guys at Springfield Leather did a video on black dyes that went over this process:

 

Ah, YouTube.  I always forget that it can teach us all things!  ;)  Thanks for posting that; it'll be helpful in the future.  And I'm definitely excited to try the wet-dyeing!

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Once again, thank you to everyone for weighing in.  In case you were wondering, here's what happened with my project:

I got a wet rag and scrubbed the heck out of it.  I was worried about gummy residue on the blacker parts - luckily, I was able to scrub all that stuff off completely, leaving me with a fairly consistent light brown.  I let it all dry and then went back, dampened and re-dyed it (thinking it wouldn't work, but hoping it would).  Application was patchy.  Second application looked a bit better, but still nowhere near up to spec.  I intended to go to Tandy and get the Pro Dye, hoping it would solve my problem, but Tandy is a good four-hour round trip that I didn't really have time to make.

Ultimately I called my customer to let him know what was going on (mostly cuz of the time lag due to me having get the Pro Dye).  His suggestion: use a Sharpie.  I laughed pretty hard at that (thought he was kidding), but when he said it again, I figured why not.  So I Sharpied it, let it dry, put a top-coat on...and it's about the nearest thing to perfect I could hope for at this stage.  Project salvaged!

I'm not sure about longevity, especially since the ink is on top of all that dye, but I rubbed it good and hard with a white cloth and nothing came off.  I'm still going to get the Pro Dye on my next trip to Tandy and I'm still going to try the purple/blue trick and the wetting the leather trick...but I'm also going to do a little more digging into the Sharpie thing.  I'm interested in making a piece I can keep and use to find out what happens with it over the long term!

IMG_6614.JPG

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I have used a black marker for edging which seems to hold up. Permanent marker is soluble in Alcohol. You may want to try to wipe down the belt with Acetone or Methylated Spirits (denatured Alcohol) and remove as much gunk as possible and try again. I doubt it will ever be 100% but you never know.

Bob

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