DIYdiy projectsmatt pierce

diy project: leather staining — coasters

by Matt

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.

4. Use Fiebing’s Tan Kote to seal the surface and protect the dye from rubbing off. Apply with a small cloth or dauber and let dry for about an hour.

5. Once dry, you can cut out coasters by tracing a shape with a pencil and cutting with shears or a knife. Now you’re ready to start protecting your coffee tables!

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  • I love the DIY projects! So pretty. I have a question, though. Can you use regular fabric dyes for this sort of thing, or are they too transparent? Also, is there a reason you couldn’t use a piece of cardboard for a stencil instead?

  • Love this! I totally would have cut out the shapes first and then tried to dye them… fail…

    I never would have thought to use a spray bottle! I am going to try this… maybe with some star shapes.

  • l love diy. I just bought a magic coaster from a shop. They paint it by them self. I wish to do it bu my self.

  • I don’t know why, but I’ve always been picky when it comes to coasters. I won’t buy any because I can’t find any that I love. But These I would be proud of. Yay and thanks! I’ll link it back if and when I do this on my blog. :)

  • This is such a great idea! Love!
    I’m definitely going to try this. I love the light natural leather color as well.

  • Do you know whether it’s important to specifically use vegetable tanned leather? There’s a place downtown that sells $3 bags of leather scraps that would be perfect, but I don’t know how much information they would be able to give me about the tanning process.

  • Great idea. I am getting increasingly interested in leather. does anyone know what glue to use to glue lace to leather?

  • @Kathleen, the veggie tan takes dye really well, but any leather should work as long as it’s not a waxy or oiled leather. Sometimes it helps if you degrease the surface before applying dye.

  • Matt, what do you use to cut the shapes out with? Where would I buy that?
    Love your coasters!!!