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When to Invest in Leather Dye?

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So since I started leather crafting two years ago or so I've been hesitant to invest in good dye; I got the absolute essentials: black, dark brown, and light brown. For other colors I've used liquid food coloring (yes, it really does work and surprisingly well too). At this point I'm starting to consider buying real dyes for my other colors but I'm getting turned off by the price. Since food coloring works, should I stick with that for now or should I invest in dye??

Also, I'm not set up to work with a high VOC dye so I'd go with water-based dye if anyone can recommend a good one. Has anyone used the Fenice Diamond Waterstain that SpringField is selling? I'd tried using Fiebing's but I get very bad rub off (to the extent that the color streaks and fades out so that black becomes light grey) even when I'm doing everything right (everything right meaning applying two coats of dye with an hour dry time in-between applying the coats, allowing the final coat 24 hours to dry, buffing the piece, and adding a seal. I've also tried almost everything in-between). 

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Liquid food coloring won't last the way you want.  It is useful as a leather dye wash (like watercolors).  I understand it is also used as a temporary hair dye.  However, there are reasons people don't use food coloring as a leather dye.  For one thing, it is not intended to be a longlasting dye, but instead a short-term dye for food that is intended to be eaten.

 

Probably the best dyes on the market are Angelus.  Short of those, the Fiebing's Pro Dyes are top notch.  Both of those are alcohol-based.

 

If you want water-based, then Fiebing's also sells a line of Institutional Dyes, such as for schools and prisons, that are water-based.  Tandy sells a line called Eco-Flo.  I cannot stand their products though, and most of them are simply repackaged versions of another, cheaper, product on the market.  So, stick with a different brand.

 

If you are dyeing black and it is rubbing off and turning grey, then you definitely need to be taking additional steps.  Either it is not soaking in, or is not properly colorfast, or you have a low quality of leather, or you need better dye.

 

FWIW I stick with Fiebing's Pro Dyes. I do not have ruboff problems and do not get streaks or haziness.  The colors come out rich and even.  I suggest only buying Black, Saddle Tan, possibly Mahogany, and Dark Brown.  Those are by far the most popular colors of leather people want to buy.

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I used to spray dye on veg tanned leather then I tried aniline dyed leather and never went back.  I've never had problems with Fieblings oil dye or Angelus rubbing off.  After drying it needs to be buffed.   Dye is relatively cheap. What do you mean you are not set up for VOC?  I just use it with out a set up. 

Edited by mike02130
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when i first started i wanted to hand dye everything. i soon realized i was better off buying my leather the color i wanted already dyed. plus you get better quality leather IMO.

even the nicest hand dyed veg tan isnt as nice say a piece of buttero/dollaro or apollo mpg unless you do alot of hand finishing and even then i wasn't able to get the same type of result i was looking for.

also ive had pretty good luck with fiebings water based and alcohol and angelus as well. i just use some Aussie conditioner (2 coats) after i buff the dyed leather and i haven't had any problems with the leather bleeding.

if your concerned with the smell just dye your goods outside or by a window.

i dont know what kind of goods you make but just some food for thought.

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2 hours ago, mike02130 said:

What do you mean you are not set up for VOC?  I just use it with out a set up. 

VOC dyes, like oil dyes, need to be used in a well ventilated area. 

2 hours ago, CastleLeatherWorks said:

if your concerned with the smell just dye your goods outside or by a window.

Unfortunately, the times that I do the most work is winter time and dying outside or by a window isn't really an option. My space isn't ventilated very well.

3 hours ago, johnv474 said:

Liquid food coloring won't last the way you want.  It is useful as a leather dye wash (like watercolors).  I understand it is also used as a temporary hair dye.  However, there are reasons people don't use food coloring as a leather dye.  For one thing, it is not intended to be a longlasting dye, but instead a short-term dye for food that is intended to be eaten.

 

Probably the best dyes on the market are Angelus.  Short of those, the Fiebing's Pro Dyes are top notch.  Both of those are alcohol-based.

 

If you want water-based, then Fiebing's also sells a line of Institutional Dyes, such as for schools and prisons, that are water-based.  Tandy sells a line called Eco-Flo.  I cannot stand their products though, and most of them are simply repackaged versions of another, cheaper, product on the market.  So, stick with a different brand.

 

If you are dyeing black and it is rubbing off and turning grey, then you definitely need to be taking additional steps.  Either it is not soaking in, or is not properly colorfast, or you have a low quality of leather, or you need better dye.

 

FWIW I stick with Fiebing's Pro Dyes. I do not have ruboff problems and do not get streaks or haziness.  The colors come out rich and even.  I suggest only buying Black, Saddle Tan, possibly Mahogany, and Dark Brown.  Those are by far the most popular colors of leather people want to buy.

Thank you, this very very informative!

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I started looking for dyes very soon after I was using different colours of boot polish on some ' learning projects'  , as it rubs off onto clothing. That was almost 16 years ago  :)  I now use ' Birdsall Leather Dyes' .  Mostly water based, but with a little bit of alcohol to aid drying. Never looked back . 

HS

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Tandy has ecoflo waterstain and dyes that are all water based. Ive seen mixed reviews. Some swear by them others hate them. But if you don't want to use voc products ita the way to go. I believe makers leather supply has indelible finishes that are water-based as well. 

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I've used Tandy Waterstain without problem and would recommend it. The work on the cover of the current issue of Leather Crafters and Saddlers Journal was done with Waterstain so it appears even the professionals use it.

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springfield leather has a tan dye that i really like

it is called goof proof  it is water based, 

here is a sample

20201211_181818.jpg.73b8f13766c321e9fb6b744a5a32abc6.jpg

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16 hours ago, Stetson912 said:

Tandy has ecoflo waterstain and dyes that are all water based. Ive seen mixed reviews. Some swear by them others hate them. 

The waterstains are made by Fenice out of Italy and are quite good. Their Tandy eco-foo-foo stuff is crap.  It's really a shame they rebranded the Fenice stains as eco-foo-foo because people unfamiliar with them think its going to be bad like their other dyes and stains.

For my taste - Fiebings Oil dyes all the way.   cheers!

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I think I'm going to go with the Fenice Diamond Waterstain that Springfield is selling. I saw their video on it and being able to dye something black in a single coat and his it stay colorfast when water was dumped on it (just buffed, no seal) sold me on it.

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