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Hello everyone, I have got back into leather work after a spell for a couple of years. I am almost finished a handbag project, and decided to dye natural leather rather than buy pre dyed leather. I really love the less than perfect colour look versus perfect commercially dyed leather - it brings out the best of leather qualities, and for the type of work I like to do it suits.

BUT, the alcohol based dyes (which seems to be all that is available??) dry the leather out so much, and it takes a lot of oil to bring it back to supple again.

What I would love to do is produce my own OIL BASED dye. Does anyone have any experience in this area? I would also like to use some natural products such as bark tannin's from our local trees, but the main objective is to make a true oil based dye. It will no doubt need some kind of emulsifier, but thought I would ask here first before embarking on my own research!!

 

Thanks in anticipation.

 

AB Leather (Andrew)

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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!

 

https://leatherworker.net/forum/search/?&q="natural dye"&search_and_or=or&sortby=relevancy

 

I think I remember the following thread being particularly interesting.

 

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Andrew, there are plenty of water based dyes around, both traditional and modern. However the vast majority of leather dyes are still alcohol based and I am not aware of any oil based ones -- contrary to popular misconception Fiebings Pro Oil dye is not and never has been oil based, and they have recently changed that name to avoid this misconception in future.

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I haven't tried this but have been meaning to for several years now :rolleyes:

From Fiebings site
https://www.fiebing.com/tips/mixing-fiebings-leather-dye-and-prime-neatsfoot-oil-compound/

Mixing Fiebing’s Leather Dye and Prime Neatsfoot Oil Compound

For generations saddle makers and other manufacturers of leather goods have used a combination of oil and dye to both control color as well as to maintain the suppleness of the leather.

To achieve this highly desired result the trick is to mix 6% of Fiebing’s Leather Dye with 94% Fiebing’s Prime Neatsfoot Oil Compound.  This works especially well with all of the brown tones and the primary colors like green and blue.

Apply as usual to unfinished, vegetable tanned leather and allow to dry.  You can try to buff the surface when dry to remove any excess dye but due to the low concentration of dye in this mixture you should not have much of a rub off issue.  Once dry, feel free to seal with Fiebing’s Acrylic Resolene.

Our R&D testing has proven that Fiebing’s Leather Dye combines more effectively with Fiebing’s Prime Neatsfoot Oil Compound then does Fiebing’s Professional Oil Dye.  We suggest you use the standard Fiebing’s Leather Dye when attempting this dye/oil combination.

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Billybop,

Thanks very much for your reference to natural dyes - you have pointed me to lots of interested reading!! 

 

Much appreciated rgds

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Matt S,

 

Thanks, the water based dyes could be worth trying too I will look into that. I guess alcohol based commercial dyes are alcohol based for a reason.

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TomG, 

Thanks for your help, I will definitely try the Fiebings/oil combination on my next project, a messenger bag.

 

 

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