Traya

How to achieve this two-tone finish?

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Hello! I recently came across the work of La Geuse on DeviantArt and love her "gradient" esque finishes where the dye is darker on the edges. I used to achieve this affect on cosplay pieces before I started working with leather by applying a dark wash and wiping away, but I want to know how to get this finish using leather dye. I make armored corsets and a lot of heavy armor for SCA and would love to achieve a similar finish on my work. My confusion comes from if her finish is achieved by airbrushing on a darker color of dye on the edges (or thinning angelus paints to do this) OR if this is some form of antiquing. I am coming to leather from the cosplay world, and while my construction is pretty good I am looking to heavily improve my dyeing process. Thanks all!

Pictures are not mine, all c

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redit to La Geuse on DeviantArt.AQBo9Rc.jpg

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Not airbrush, but that kind of dark "degradé" ( with the slight marbling effect in some parts ) could/ can be done with sponges and multiple passes around the edges , each "pass" slightly nearer the edge of the piece than the previous one.
The slightly "honey" effect ( softer "degrade" ) can be done with airbrush or with very soft cloths and thin colour ( allow the previous coat to dry before going over again with another coat, and working lightly , but fast and sure *) many ways to achieve these finishes.

*Think "old furniture" type "sunburst" finishes ( before the airbrush existed, and yes, airbrushes have been around for a very long time, but these kind of finishes as varnishes on furniture ( and musical instruments ) have been around for centuries.

Can also do this kind of "degrade" using soft cloths and semi-transparent coloured waxes, makes it very easy to get either soft or harder type blends.

Edited by mikesc

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Thanks for the reply!  I am a cellist myself so I definitely recognize the sunburst affect as it is similar to the woodstain on stringed instruments. Would I be doing these "degrades" with lighter/darker colors of dye as appropriate? If you have any product/finish recommendations it would be much appreciated :). 

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Products and finishes? depends on where you are..almost all the products and finishes and glues mentioned on here by anyone are unavailable where I am. I know how to mix the base ingredients and pigments, varnishes and waxes etc, ( and the techniques to use with them ) to achieve almost any finish on any surface.

But when reading the names of the various products that are mentioned here, I tend to search out their MSDS, or the technical description of their make-up in order to know what is in them and what they are trying to be the "ready made" versions of..

Example almost all of the "cements" which get mentioned here, are anything but cement ( which is a mixture incorporating calcium hydroxide with aggregates and water ), what they are is, glues or adhesives, and usually woud fall into the category of "adhesives"..and from what I can gather most are variants upon "rubber solutions" ( either natural or synthetic ) in various solvent bases.

Another example is when white "wood glue" or white "carpenters glue" is mentioned..I know those as PVA ( polyvinylacetate ), which if you add 10% to your water when "casing" will improve the result immensely ( unless you are going to be carving the leather afterwards, in which "case"* you'd be better casing the leather normally, then carving it before it is totally dry and then spraying a few light coats of diluted PVA over the final surface ( better still if done also from the flesh side for better penetration ) prior to any finishes being applied.

Back to your examples .If I was going to reproduce those colours and those effects on leather,after cutting and / casing/ forming the leather and making any required carving and stamping on it, I'd then begin by getting some burnt umber and some raw umber and maybe some raw sienna oil paint, thinning each a little with odourless white spirit ( or turpentine which has been rendered odourless ) mixing a batch of each into bees wax ( or stearate wax ) which will need to be warmed in a "double boiler" ( for safety )..and then applying each layer either with a soft cloth ( and buffing it well to spread it and ensure absorption ) in small circles ( like you shine military boots or shoes )..build up the effect that way..try on a piece of the same leather so as to get the "feel" for how many layers and how to apply to get the precise effect that you want, stippling it on with a sponge and then very lightly spreading with a cloth so as to not disturb the stippling too much will get you that degrade slightly distressed marbled effect that you see in the darker areas, you can add to the distressing by dipping a feather into the thinned paint that has not had wax added and dragging the feather ( the "wrong way" over some areas ) <= this is how you do marble veining ( and then you use either you fingers or cloth or horn tools to "take out " the stones and "crystals" and "fractures" ) when making "faux marbre" in trompe l'oeil work..You can also use "scrim" or Hessian ( burlap ) in a sort of swiping / stroking action to add or remove "finish" on what would be "wear lines" an d "wear areas" or faux creases, all kinds of textures, textiles and objects can be used with pigments and pigmented waxes and varnishes to make patinas and faux / fantasy finishes.

*unavoidable pun..je m'excuse ( hangs head in shame smiley )

BTW..if you like armour.. search for azmal here on leatherworker.net and on deviant art and at princearmory.com

Edited by mikesc

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You could also look up graining and marbling ..lot of the techniques apply to "faux surfacing" and "distressing"..
Parry's Graining and Marbling..is still available in print..it is older than I am..( a little ) but is "old school", that is to say it explains techniques and mixtures rather than quotes brand names and ready made mixtures in a bottle or a can which as they may one day be come unavailable are really no substitute for knowing how to make your own from the basic ingredients , oils, varnishes, glues, adhesives and pigments.

There are other books that go still deeper into the chemistry and the techniques behind what is used in faux and trompe on a various surfaces ( gold foil application or "gilding" is one such technique that can be used or adapted ) Many of those I have or have had, are alas out of print nowadays, so much of the basic knowledge appears to be being forgotten or swept aside for a "quick fix" and the "in a bottle" ( so few artists and artisans these days are also interested in the chemistry of what they use ) instant remedies are taking their places.

There are still many websites out there which have valuable information on materials and techniques, but a huge amount was lost to the public when geocities went dark..and a lot of what is still online is not in English.

Cue chorus from "big yellow taxi"..

Edited by mikesc

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Thanks! This is so interesting I will definitely look into all this reading material and the chemistry behind what have now become off-the-shelf products. I'm sure it will yield better results (and also ones that I can customize more to my liking)!

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I nearly forgot, if you use oil paints ( as per above ), use artist's grade, they have a greater pigment to "vehicle or "liant" ration than student grades and also are ground more finely, so give more even control of colouring and thinning, also some student grades of the natural earth colours ( like the umbers and siennas etc ) can have a grittiness which can scratch the surfaces that you are applying it to, and subsequent coats will accentuate any such scratches.

Cheap watercolour paints frequently have the same problems, in all "paints" and dyes , the pigments are more expensive than the binders, vehicles or liants, so when corners get cut to make a price point, the pigment is what has it's quality compromised, and "light fastness" is not usually as good with student grade pigments.

Automotive paints are probably the hardest wearing, but the best ones require experience and skill to apply and frequently use toxic or carcinogenic solvents and binders..but they do allow effects that you cannot get any other way than to use them, and they ( when properly thinned ) go through the expensive double action detail airbrushes like a dream...and they stay on and take a wax very nicely.

They also adhere very well to the insides of your nasal passages and your trachea and lungs, ( and can kill you ) so should only be used with solvent proof "cartridge type" masks or breathing systems..

Edited by mikesc

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I got the same effect when I used a 1/8 inch felt/cotton Dremel wheel on a piece of leather that I had dyed a dark antique brown and as the wheel passed over the dye, it gently removed just enough to reveal the lighter color of the leather underneath.

Sam:)

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