Friday, September 21, 2012

Research: Leather Dye

One of the more interesting aspects of bookbinding is constantly experimenting with various techniques to decorate or customize the covers. One of the techniques that I like to use is wood burning. I'm still experimenting with the new tips that I picked up but have been working with pressure and how slowly to move it across the leather to get a darker (or lighter) mark.

Additionally I wanted to see how the technique would look once I dyed the leather (as opposed to dying the leather and then burning it). So I grabbed a bit of 4 oz leather and started to experiment.

Dying leather is a tricky process. Leather dye is always futzy when you're trying to get an even coat or wash across the surface. Normally I end up with brush marks or sponge marks left from the areas where the dye was stronger in some places and weaker in others.  The above test strip was an experiment with various acrylic washes to see how well they would color the leather.

Copper (left) and brown (right)
The copper looks interesting. It does keep its metallic sheen to it once it dries so that's something to keep an eye on. I could always use it to accent something like a central design. I wouldn't use too much of it because it would become overpowering in the overall theme of the book.

Blue (left) and Orange (right)

The blue is a nice, rich color. I could easily see it being used to color an entire book. I know a few people who would love a "River Song" journal from Dr. Who. The orange (see below) came out very nice and would look awesome for some kind of autumn-themed book.

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