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  1. Hello all, I have been using fiebings pro oil dye on all of my dyed projects. I do like the way that it sits in the leather, but I am the type of person that would much rather use a more natural alternative when it comes to most methods. I have heard about using cold black coffee to darken leather, as well as multiple light coats of extra virgin olive oil left out in the sun. I am more keen to these types of methods. I was wondering if anyone knows of, or has had any experience with, making their own plant based leather dyes? I have heard of people using organic material such as: onions blueberries cedar walnut husks alder blackberries elderberries fern fronds etc... I do have access to these items, but I am unsure of the process in which to get the pigment out of the item, as well as applying the dye, and storage. Edit: Do you think this method would work for dying leather? Thanks! Zayne
  2. Billybop, Thanks very much for your reference to natural dyes - you have pointed me to lots of interested reading!! Much appreciated rgds
  3. There are a number of threads on LWN about making natural dyes that you might find helpful. I don't remember them mentioning oil based dye, but many are water-based. In any case, some of these might give you a starting point!"natural dye"&search_and_or=or&sortby=relevancy I think I remember the following thread being particularly interesting.
  4. Hey All, I was able to get to this project over the last week. 1. I am pretty sure these are a variety of Chinese chestnuts, or at least crossed with them, as that is what the MO Dept of Conv. is working with. 2. Not pleasant to deal with. (#1) 3. With stout gloves, pliers and a hammer, I broke them into little pieces. After getting about 2 cups worth, I gave up. (#2) 4. I dumped the broken ones and then filled a large crock pot with whole ones. 5. Filled the crock pot with water (a little over 2 liters) 6. Heated on high for 4 hours, then on low for 20 hours. 7. Drained and thanks to using a liner, just transferred those spiky things to the trash. 8. After cooling, I soaked a holster that honestly had made its way to my trash bin as I was not pleased with the cut I did. 9. Soaked the holster for 10 hours, then let it dry for a day. 10. One coat of neatsfoot oils, after it soaked in and dried, I added a coat of a mix I made of 2 parts neatsfoot, 2 parts olive oil and 1 part beeswax. I think the colors in the picture are fairly accurate. Wished it came out a deeper color, but I typically put a cup of isopropyl alcohol in natural dye to prevent mold. I think it helps open the pores too, so need to do that and dip something else. All in all, I like it.
  5. I'm new and have been practicing in order to make dog collars and belts etc. I want to use little too no chemical processing. I'm looking to sell my items, when I perfect the methods, and sell as "All natural." I want to dye non colored veg tanned leather with plant and other natural items for finishing.. Does anyone have experience with this and how to do it? Thanks.
  6. Handstitched

    Snake skin lighter case

    G'Day, My Mother used to spin and prepare her own wool, knit , make garments etc. While she kept her colours natural, as in how they came off the sheeps back, her friends used natural dyes like boiled spinach water, (amongst other vegies and plants) , mulberries, assorted berries etc. I guess thats where the influence came from . HS
  7. Handstitched

    Snake skin lighter case

    G'Day, The markings on the skin are just perfect. Even the markings on the blade of the knife look cool too. Speaking of natural colours Rockoboy, , I have thought about using stuff like paprika, turmeric...and tea... as a natural dye, amongst others. I'll experiment with water based & oil based versions. They can stain clothing & kitchen benches if you're not careful when cooking. I think the oil based version will work better.... the paprika on my steak tonight and my love of curries gave me the idea. HS
  8. I have seen primitive style sheaths made from dog rawhide bones. The rawhide was soaked until it was pliable. Because pieces were so thick he would stretch it flat and let it dry. Then he sanded it if I remember correctly to thin it. When it was as thick as he wanted it, it was soaked again and formed over a mold to dry. Some were left plain, so had designs pressed into it while it was drying. Natural dyes were used to stain it. Bones, stones, hair, teeth, and what not to decorate it.
  9. I am trying to do a couple of pieces that are as natural/organic ?? as possible. I am not ready to tan leather so I am kind of stuck there. I am sure the process is laden with chemicals. I have made some beautiful natural dyes that I am happy with. I have made small sewn objects and have dipped them in paraffin which makes the pieces nice and stiff and makes the natural dyes look nice and deep. I am using some botanical material and so far have figured out how to not have it crumble after time . So I think the only thing I dont have locked down is the thread. I have been using tandy's waxed thread and the thinner awl thread and have read more about thread on this group than I knew was possible Still .. Now I am curious as to what dye's or processes are used to get the colors into the thread? What are they using to make the thread brown or black. I am considering hemp and trying to dye it myself but I don't know what thickness to use. I have been able to find 1mm and 2mm hemp. Linen and cotton would be fine but all I find are waxed so I wouldn't be able to dye it. I hand sew everything. Any and all help would be appreciated. This project has been a blast. Kitchen is a mess but hey ... sacrifices have to be made. Thanks! Alex
  10. fredk

    Old time finishes and dyes?

    100 years ago: chemical dyes were available, so was bees' wax and neetsfoot oil 150 years ago: the same 200 years ago: mostly natural dyes, eg reds/orange/yellow from saffron, blacks from walnut shells. Some chemical dyes starting to be made
  11. Harry Marinakis

    Looking for all-natural veg-tan leather

    I ordered a side of natural veg-tan tooling leather from Hermann Oak. At $11/square foot, it was almost $300 with shipping. I'll run some natural dye experiments with this leather, versus cheaper veg-tan tooling leathers, and post the results here. The experiment that prompted this search was dyeing with natural walnut extract. When dyeing one cheap veg-tan tooling leather with walnut, it instantly turned a beautiful, rich brown with one application of extract. Another veg-tan tooling leather didn't change color at all, even with a 24-hour soak.
  12. Harry Marinakis

    Looking for all-natural veg-tan leather

    I agree, Bill I have been experimenting with both topical dye application and soaking. Natural dyes often require 5 to 15 applications, with drying between coats. Soaking in dye for a few days is usually effective, but it requires a lot more dye, and you use up a lot more dye at a faster rate. I ran into some problems with modern veg-tan tooling leathers refusing to take any natural dye at all, even with 3-day soaks. Surprisingly, most of the ancient dye recipes from the middle ages specify topical application of the dye, not soaking!
  13. Aaron1971

    Making Natural Dyes

    Hello all, I have been googling my rear off and finally decided to ask here: I am interested in making natural dyes at home, in particular I have been asked to make a belt to "match" a pair of shoes for someone in my office. The local expertise is very limited. I have used coffee to get the correct shade but need to add a little yellow tint, any recommendations? I was thinking of adding some tumeric to my coffee "dye", or maybe to some leather conditioner. I am new so just experimenting so far, but I feel bad because the guy is waiting for his belt. Any help is appreciated. I have attached a fairly close example of the color I'm trying to match. This is very close but the color I need is a little lighter with what I see as a more yello/orangey tint.
  14. Wow, thanks for the great information here! I would love to experiment with making my own natural dyes.
  15. I've been playing around with natural leather dyes myself. Below is a table of some of the natural dyes that I've created so far, using Madder root, Brazilwood, Red Sandalwood, Old Fustic, vinagroon, and a variety of other natural reagents and mordants. I haven't even started exploring blues, yellows or browns yet. Almost all natural leather dyes require soaking for prolonged periods (e.g., days) in order to get good, saturated colors. There are exceptions (like Brazilwood and vinagroon). Unfortunately, most of the natural dyes that work with leather are fugitive (i.e., they are not color fast, sun fast or wash fast), so they have to be sealed and cannot be exposed to the elements. The rare exceptions include vinagroon, walnut dyes, and some lichen dyes. Also, most of the protocols for dyeing fibers do not translate well to leather, as many fiber dye baths require temps hotter than 180 degrees F (and that would obviously harden the leather).
  16. Oh too bad you tossed the walnuts! English and black walnuts are the SAME!! I was going from a book about natural dyeing, Wild Color by Jenny Dean. No need to shuck, just let them ferment in a bucket outside. But now I know why their were pieces of husk in the yard. Darned squirrels. At the end of fermentation, I strain the pieces out, and compost the whole mess of solids. I know I'm wasting potential dye, but they drop nuts every year! Ps toss in some paper and it will dye that too! This year I added 1/2 cup iron liquor (old nails and vinegar) to 3.5 gallon of walnut dye. Gave some wool a gorgeous deep brown. Hooray. Will concentrate the dye down by boiling before trying on leather. Wish me luck!
  17. I have been trying to read about making some of my own dye for leather. The only thing I make are knife sheaths. I have read some stuff about using walnuts, just putting them in some water and boil them down. Some writings mention about putting a setting agent in with the mixture, but I am not sure what that would be or how much of it you need. I also read somewhere about even using pecan hulls to make a dye. Anybody have much experience with doing this or is just not worth the time to do. Not really meaning to save money but meaning that they do not work very well or do not last like the stuff you buy. Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  18. Came across this site with some interesting free ebooks. This one, I thought would be interesting to the natural dye folk:
  19. I remember seeing a post awhile back that had a list of things you could use to make natural dyes, can anyone steer me towards that, Id like to do some experimenting
  20. When using a natural dye i.e. Black Tea or boiled down Pecan hulls, do you mix it with vinegar to dye the leather? Scott.
  21. Hi, So I have made natural dyes ro my satisfaction. However, I'm not sure if I need to bevel, skive and punch before placing the leather strap into the dye. I didn't do this when I dyed some straps and then when I beveled the leather underneath was much lighter. Can someone please clarify for me.
  22. Boriqua

    Finish That Darkens

    The only way I have successfully gotten natural dyes darker is to leave them to soak in the solution for longer periods. If I do a blueberry or other natural dye I get a huge difference if I leave it for a few hours or if I leave it over night. Neatsfoot darkens it some but not much and sun could further bleech out the color.
  23. Nuttish

    Finish That Darkens

    Natural dyes typically require a mordent and boil or simmer. Otherwise, you'll find that they're not color fast, light fast, or both. Have a look at for insight. Darker brown dyes are not as common as lighter yellows and tans, and a lot depends on how you mordent your material. Waxed tooling leather exposed to UV will darken on its own. See for yourself by putting a piece out in the sun.
  24. I will have to look up many of the things used for the recipies in that book. Well, not the urine, of course. I made the collar on the dog for my Avaitar. It was my first after some practice. This is not natural dye.