Sunday, June 3, 2012

Head Case: Painting veg-tanned leather

So, for my latest experiment in head-shaped leather casing I wanted to try out some unique color. With vegetable-tanned leather, if you want anything other than the light-tan look of the raw leather, you have to dye or paint it yourself.
The image below shows a bunch of colors that I bought at Sav-Mor, being tested on some scraps. The top strip has acrylic-based black and three different shades of blue. The next strip has black, red and blue on top of a pewter color - I was playing around with layering colors over the metallics. Next strip: red, green and yellow, and below that a long test with a colorless saddle oil (like what you'd use on a baseball glove), next to a light and medium-brown stain (they look almost the same to me!), light and dark-brown acrylic, and metallic copper, metallic bronze, and pewter. The metallics looked really cool, but I was afraid it might turn the hood into more of a robot-looking thing...
I finally decided on the acrylic-based light brown, as I really liked the look of the veg-tanned leather when it was wet, and that color came pretty close. I also wanted a kind of antique, slightly distressed look.

Because I planned to dilute the color, and that meant the hood would get wet again, I wanted to leave it on the form to make sure it kept its shape. I used a damp rag, and kept applying and wiping off the paint, until I built up a kind of patina. If I wanted the whole thing to be a consistent color, I would mix a batch first, and apply it without diluting.
I liked the idea of the seams being a slightly darker color, so I hit them with the brown stain, which absorbed well into the loose fibers of the edge. I had already slicked them down first with gum traganth.
I don't consider this a finished piece by any means, but a fruitful experiment nonetheless...
There are some construction issues and techniques that I can refine for next time, and for now the end result is so inspiring I can't wait to do a few more...
The color options alone are enough to keep me busy for a while... My fit model requested one in a dark metallic midnight blue. Sounds awesome to me.

1 comment:

  1. i see the point about robots, but you have made it better.
    I have only just figured out that it looks like "iron : man" by Antony Gormley.
    Very very cool. Not robot but statue.