So I’ve finally got round to finishing off the armour. I’m quite pleased with the result. This has been something of a learning experience as this is the largest leather piece I’ve ever made so I needed to be very careful in planning what I was doing. many of the steps involved are ones you can’t easily move back from if you go wrong.
I thought it would be cool to do abit of a walkthrough as to how I went about dying the leather, but first a few pics of the finished piece.
The mechnical detailing was made from various pieces of brass including some gromits for grandfather clocks. I made the pressure gauge from scratch using transparent acrylic, brass tube and some printed out detailing. The tubing is scale braided cable from a model making website.
So I used Fiebings leather dye to colour the leather here. I’ve used it previously but since I’ve no formal training with this stuff I’m sure I’ve been doing it wrong all this time! I’ve found that my previous attempts have all come out rather dark compared to some leatherwork I’ve seen.
As I’ve been using an airbrush this last year or so which works more in terms of subtle shades and washes rather than one simple layer of colour, I wondered if it would work better if I diluted the dyes and applied them in lots of thin washes rather than one application.
Turns out, it does.
I also wondered if it might work if I actually tried to airbrush the dye onto the leather. I reckon this would work but I wasn’t willing to try for the first time on this project! I also wanted some areas of the piece in certain colours, something that (for me at least) would be difficult to accomplish with an airbrush.
I started off by masking off the chainmail section. I also tested the dye out on some scrap pieces that you can see by the collar. I didn’t want to whack it on without first trying it!
Next step was to wet the leather with water before applying the diluted dye. I find this helps the dye flow better into the leather.
Here’s one side finished. It looks alot brighter than I’d originally envisaged, but I knew it would darken down once I got to the next step.
The next step is to apply a layer of black resolene. This gives it a sort of ‘antique’ look. I think you can just use this to give a piece a final finish, but I tend to use it to highlight detailing. I did this by whacking a load on and then wiping it off with a cloth, leaving it settle into the detailing.
Once I’d done this something wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t really put my finger on it for a while but I eventually realised that by wiping the resolene away in straight lines it had created to regular a pattern. I found that spattering some on, a little like spilt ink, and using a cloth to randomise it gave it a more natural look.
Here’s the leather with the first layer of resolene applied. It does make quite a difference to how it looks.
The final step was to add a layer of clear acrylic resolene to seal the leather. This is basically a varnish I suppose – it’s a little like a watery PVA glue to be honest. It does give the leather a nice finish however.
Here’re a load more pics.