My early attempts with leather stain were messy, awkward and always too dark. I pretty much resigned myself to dark colors and floods. Then a friend, Eric Trine, started playing with dye in a spray bottle, and I was instantly intrigued. The results looked quite cool. So after giving it another try, I’m here to tell you about a much more fun method: using the spray bottle.
Small bottles of dye are somewhat inexpensive, mini spray bottles are about $2 and a scrap of natural leather is quite cheap. All of these items can be found online or at your local Tandy Leather store. Here’s my example, but use this lesson as a start to experiment even further. Go with more solid coverage, try stripes, paint the dye with a brush, tie-dye thinner leathers . . . there are lots of possibilities. — Matt
See the full how-to after the jump!
- Vegetable Tanned Tooling Leather, 8–10 oz. weight
- Fiebing’s Acrylic Leather Dye (or Eco-Flo Dye)
- Fiebing’s Tan Kote
- knife or leather shears
- rags or paper towels
- 2 oz. mini spray bottles
- butcher paper
1. Prepare your dye bottles by pouring just a little dye into each and adding a little water. I usually mix one part dye to three parts water. Cap each and shake. Lay out some butcher paper to keep your area clean since you’ll be spraying dye everywhere!
2. Cut a piece of leather to use as a mask, and some shapes, as well. Practice your dye technique by spraying an edge, moving the mask, spraying another color and so on. It works best to spray lightly, as you can always add dye to get more solid coverage.
3. Experiment with your masks and sprays to cover a whole piece of leather with designs and color. Acrylic dye should be dry to the touch in about 30 minutes, but feel free to let it cure longer before adding the finishing top coat.