The last couple of weeks I have been developing a few new leather goods for the shop. The one thing that kept bothering me about creating leather cases and bags…was that you basically were forced to use chemicals to dye the leather. I decided that there must be a better way and so I spent a lot of time experimenting with different vegetable matter.
It turns out that there are three basic elements that can give you a decent color variation in leather and they are all completely natural. The first – being the sun. So, I decided to let my leather sit outside and get a tan for a while…the whole day even. The result? Leather tans in much the same way as your skin. The leather turned from a pasty beige to a slightly reddish light brown. I was thrilled with the result and decided to take things a bit further.
Using the experience I had gained staining my wood and moss jewelry line – I decided to test out the tannin rich – walnut husk powder. After a light coat of my newly created all-natural dye, followed by an even rub of extra virgin olive oil…I was able to get a medium brown with distressed and aged accents.
To keep things going, I wanted to see if I could get a near-black color using the walnut husks and a vinegar solution I made with steel wool. To my surprise it worked very well, and I now have a complete line of three all-natural colors that stick well to the leather and don’t rub off (see second image below with all three colors). Future experiments will include beet juice and wild plum root… both with a lot of potential to expand the color range even further.
The wallet shown here was created with top-grain leather dyed with walnut husks and conditioned with extra virgin olive oil and beeswax. The entire case was created by hand from start to finish – with an extreme attention to detail. Each case will be made to order and will include a sequential number below the Maker’s mark to indicate the item’s place in the history of leather goods made by Mr. Lentz. Now available in the online shop.