(Just a little under half of my collection, 45 to be exact (some you cannot see), mainly my casuals)
I just recently moved into a new flat in London and finally learned what it’s like to truly be European. What I mean is, now that I finally have all of my stuff in one place, I can ultimately see that I have way too much and it does not all fit. It’s a sad realization, but I think deep down in my subconscious, I knew all along that this was bound to happen. Simply because, I do have a lot of crap!! Now, back in the States, I could fit it all. Don’t get me wrong, it barely fit even there but at least I could manage. However, here in London I am bursting through the closet doors (as you can see), being subjected to the mistreatment of my shoes and am therefore having to find strange places to put things that I would have never even considered in a American-sized flat. (On a side note: To my fellow Americans, be blessed of the spaces that you have, because here in England, it would cost you 10 times more to have that space!) At this point, you might be wondering what the heck this has to do with patinas, so allow me to explain. Looking at all of my 100 pairs of shoes (circa), I had to come to terms with knowing that I needed to either give some away, sell some and/or change some to be more practical. I decided to do a bit of each and in doing so, changed the color of another pair of my shoes.
A long time ago when I was a bit younger and a bit dumber (and making a good amount of money working as a salesman at Nordstrom), I decided to buy these cream colored Gucci loafers (pictured). Looking back at it, I know what drove me to buy them, but thinking about it now, I would have been much better off just saving the money. But, such is life and at least I now I am able to turn a mistake into an opportunity. And so I did.
I realized that I would never wear these anymore, not in a practical way at least, and therefore did not want to have another shoe that just sat around for special occasions. I decided that I was going to change the color, since ultimately, I like the style of the shoe and wanted to keep it. After much debate, I came to the conclusion that I was going to make it two colors; ones that complimented each other and that I could get a lot of use out of. Those two colors were brown and blue.
When doing a patina, you tend to be working with dyes and things that stain, so I apologize that I do not have pictures of the process. But I can tell you, that if you have common sense (as I hope that you do), you can do exactly what I did, because it really is not that hard. Now, don’t let me fool you though, this is an amateur job, at best, but to get results such as these, which are definitely satisfactory in my opinion, it really is not that hard. The simple rule to remember is that you can never dye a dark shoe light and that the lighter the base, the easier the patina will be. Also, the more contrast that you have in colors (from base to dye) the easier that it will be for the end result. For example, taking a tan shoe, stripping it, and then trying to dye it light gray, will be a lot more difficult than dying it navy. But the real trick is to get good dyes. Now this will be the hard part, and in reality I cannot give you much advice here, as I am no expert. If you can get the people at Berluti to tell you what they use, then you will be in business, but for now, you can use Fiebings.
If any of you have been thinking about doing this let me tell you a couple of things that you might want. Buy yourself a paint brush (for small areas), a sponge to use in circular motions (for big areas), and some surgical (latex) gloves (because it will stain your hands). And make sure that if you are going to be using multiple colors, have multiple applicators, because if you use the same one, you will start creating a third color and it might mess it up. Once you have these things, you can go to town. If any of you end of going for it, send me a pic, as I would love to see the results!
They look much better. Good job.
You are a madman 😉
Great idea from a great guy…. They look great
MFirst of all thank you for this posting. Very interesting. Maybe i can add my 2 cents regarding fiebings dyes. I Have some years of experience with other leatherwork, so i know Fiebings Dyes.
Those dyes are a well known product among leatherworkers around the world. I don’t know many professional leatherworkers who use other dyes.
(Angelus dyes are similar and some say they are better. Tandy Ecoflo dyes are water based and don’t work for me, but some people have great results with them).
As long as you are dealing with vegetable tanned leather, you should have no problem with those dyes. Leather that is tanned with other processes is critical. you should try it at an place that isn’t visible first (for example the inner side of the shoe under the arc).
There are different product lines of fiebings dyes. I have worked with Fiebings Leather dye and Fiebings prof. oil dye. The last one will penetrate the leather deeper, so you will hopefully have an more even look after dyeing.
The normal Leather Dye doesn’t penetrate as deep as the oil dyes, which is good if you want to achieve a patina look. You can use a little package of fabric as an applicator, that is not soaked very much with dye. i usually tap a newspaper 6 or 7 times with the applicator, so the most of the dye is out of it. Than you rub it first gently in even, circular motions about the whole piece you want to dye. You repeat that (eventually with new dye on the applicator) until you have a more or less even color (it will become darker, when you repeat it more often).
At the end you only rub the parts you want to become darker with the almost dry applicator and use more and more pressure.
If the shade is noto dark enough you can repeat this with a darker dye (for example tan followed bye dark brown).
Maybe this are some hints for people who want to try this, too.
At least it hast to be saidd, that dyeing leather is and art for itself. Mastering this is very difficult and need lots of practice. You have been warned and i don’t want to be made responsible 😉
P.S. Please forgive me minor and major mistakes, since english is not my mother tongue.
Justin FitzPatrick, "The Shoe Snob"
Anon1 – They do indeed! Cream was a little overkill…
Anon2 – Yes, I am…
Vladimir – Thank you sir!
Jonathan – Thank you so much for providing some intelligent and helpful input. Always a pleasure to receive guidance from an expert!
Justin, which shade of brown did you use? Fieblings have quite a few brown shades, really like the result which you achieved.
Justin FitzPatrick, "The Shoe Snob"
Omar – Don’t think that I actually used Fiebings for this job, I just recommend it because it’s the best out there for the common purchaser. I used some crappy dye, but I can’t remember what it is called. But the color was dark brown, to answer your question…