Natural Leather Dye

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Meganbeyer
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Natural Leather Dye

Postby Meganbeyer » Sat Apr 04, 2020 10:21 pm

I have been experimenting with natural leather dying. So far i have tried walnut hulls, coffee, coffee with hibiscus flowers, and store bought leather dye. I really like the colors from the coffee and coffee hibiscus mix...
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Samples out in the sun

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Left to right- Chocolate leather dye, 5 min walnut soak, coffee hibiscus top/ coffee bottom, natural leather

Any one ever tried to dye leather naturally? any suggestions? have you found natural dyes to bleed or wear funny?
Elleth
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Re: Natural Leather Dye

Postby Elleth » Sun Apr 05, 2020 1:03 am

Cool!

We talk about walnut dying here:
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4311

And some vinegaroon here, with a like to a wonderful historical leather pallete thread over on myArmoury:
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=3992&p=42852


Neat experiments! :)
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Re: Natural Leather Dye

Postby Meganbeyer » Sun Apr 05, 2020 1:47 am

Elleth wrote:Cool!

Thanks for the links will definitely check them out... I love to work with leather and finding new ways to dye things will be great!
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Re: Natural Leather Dye

Postby theowl » Sun Apr 05, 2020 3:21 am

Meganbeyer wrote:
Any one ever tried to dye leather naturally? any suggestions? have you found natural dyes to bleed or wear funny?


Coffee and hibiscus is interesting. I'll need to play around with that.

Look into vinegaroon dye. It typically produces a black color, but I've experimented with it a bit and gotten some decent dark browns and grays. It's also very permanent, I've never had any issues with bleeding or fading over time.
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Re: Natural Leather Dye

Postby BrianGrubbs » Tue Apr 14, 2020 12:06 pm

What process did you use for the coffee dying?

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Re: Natural Leather Dye

Postby Meganbeyer » Tue Apr 14, 2020 12:27 pm

BrianGrubbs wrote:What process did you use for the coffee dying?

Brian

I made really strong coffee and just dipped the leather bit into it. My coffee mix was half of my jar coffee grounds and then brewed with hot water, let stand till luke warm and used it.
Currently mixing the Hibiscus into a coffee mix to make a nice red brown dye for my saddle bags

EDIT: I am currently working on figuring out my ratios and how the dye is best applied. I will update as i get thing dyed with the natural dyes.
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Re: Natural Leather Dye

Postby BrianGrubbs » Tue Apr 14, 2020 1:53 pm

Thank you, I will give that a try!

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Re: Natural Leather Dye

Postby Elleth » Mon Apr 20, 2020 12:20 pm

EDIT: I NO LONGER RECOMMEND THIS PRODUCT / USE WITH CAUTION
There's definately vinegaroon in there. Use SPARINGLY and de-acidify your project before oiling/dubbining/waxing.
It's *very* easy to go straight past brown to black.




For what it's worth, I just got this stuff:

32 Oz.100% ALL NATURAL BLACK WALNUT CONCENTRATE STAIN / DYE / INK
from eBay user mikeb5891: I'm afraid I forget the DBA/company name it arrived under.
walnut-dye.jpg
walnut-dye.jpg (25.42 KiB) Viewed 2038 times

https://www.ebay.com/itm/32-Oz-100-ALL- ... 2536010495






I haven't used it "for real" but shortly after it arrived I used a dab on a scrap piece and I was shocked how well it worked: almost as well as modern leather dye.

I don't know *why* it works so much better. Maybe there's a carrier or mordant he's added he didn't mention in the product description. Maybe by producing straight from husks he's keeping more of the "juice" and the powder process Starwest uses throws that away.

I'm curious why - but I know even leaving something overnight in a sludge of cooked-down walnut powder I don't get anything like the results from a simple dab of this stuff.



(edited to resize picture)
Last edited by Elleth on Wed May 27, 2020 11:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Natural Leather Dye

Postby Manveruon » Mon May 25, 2020 1:58 am

HOLY COW THAT’S AMAZING!!! I’ve been looking for a good source of natural walnut dye FOR EV ER.
Now, pardon my ignorance here, but... it says “black walnut dye,” so does that just mean dye made from black walnuts (and presumably the dye itself is a brownish color)? Or does that mean BLACK dye, made from walnuts?
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Re: Natural Leather Dye

Postby Elleth » Mon May 25, 2020 10:21 am

It is brown, but it's quite a dark and somewhat flat brown.
My *suspicion* is that the maker cut it with a bit of vinegaroon so it works more quickly, though I've not confirmed with him.

That's great if that's what you're going for. It does seem significantly easier to use than the regular stuff, especially when you don't have a hot summer day outside.
If I wanted more the deep dark amber/chestnutty brown I have on other things - say my quiver - it's not what I'd use. On the other hand, there have absolutely been lots of times I've been extremely frustrated with a regular soak in walnut powder not getting anywhere near dark as I want, so this stuff (or a light vinegaroon wash) absolutely has a place.
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Re: Natural Leather Dye

Postby theowl » Mon May 25, 2020 7:18 pm

I got a bottle of it and used it to dye the brain tanned bag I made. I had to do two passes to even it out a bit, but I think it turned out pretty good.

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Re: Natural Leather Dye

Postby Manveruon » Mon May 25, 2020 9:23 pm

That is absolutely great info, thanks guys!

Also worth asking: since this is a dye made from largely or entirely natural materials, would you say it has an expiration date? If I were to buy this, do you think I would need to be worried about it going off/getting moldy after a relatively short period of time?
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Re: Natural Leather Dye

Postby Elleth » Mon May 25, 2020 11:18 pm

Hunh. Now that you mention it - I don't know.

The stuff I brew at home aboslutely goes moldy after a week or so.
This hasn't so far: maybe he has some alcohol in it? Maybe the bottle itself is just less susceptible to contaimination?

Dunno.

Anyhow, I'd plan on it not keeping terribly long, and be happily surprised if it doesn't go off.

For what it's worth, I've heard of craftsfolk who don't worry about mold - they just keep a pot out back, toss in their stuff scum or no, and carry on. I don't think I've heard of problems from it, but it skill gives me the skeevies. I once used a questionable batch with some leather straps, and they just never seemed to smell right after. Can't recall if the smell faded or I just tossed them: I'm thinking maybe the latter?
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Manveruon
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Re: Natural Leather Dye

Postby Manveruon » Tue May 26, 2020 6:38 pm

Yeah, makes sense. For what it’s worth, I feel largely the same as you regarding moldy stains/dyes and such. One way or the other though, I’m still tempted by this one. Maybe I can see if another local who wants to do more natural/historical leather work wants to go in on one so we’re both not stuck with the entire container.

Also, if they did cut it with a bit of vinegaroon, as you theorized above, the vinegar in that mixture could act as a slight preservative.
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Re: Natural Leather Dye

Postby wulfgar » Wed May 27, 2020 6:51 pm

I have done the vinegaroon dye, steel wool soaked in vinegar, and find that it rots the leather even if it is promptly oiled after the drying process. Anyone else have that issue?
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