Sunday, 2 March 2014

The Ongoing Challenge of the Period Blue Leather Dye

The last piece of my Kingdom A&S puzzle is the blue dye. For those that have been following along, this has been a bit of an ongoing saga, with multiple attempts at various recipes.

This past week I made yet another attempt at getting the dye to work. I used the first recipe I tried from the Plictho, which is basically a mixture of indigo, water and gum arabic. Based on the input a received at QPT, I adjusted the recipe process by:

  • Grinding the indigo finer using a mortar and pestle
  • Using distilled water instead of just filtered tap water
  • Soaking the leather in alum water for a full 2 minutes instead of just a quick dip
  • Soaking the leather in the dye for 30 seconds rather than painting it on.
All of these changes got me absolutely no further than I was before, at least with the veg tan leather. It gives me a bit of a tint on the surface but it just rubs right off as soon as I touch it with a damp cloth.

Just for a test I did try the dye on a piece of the alum tawed leather that I ordered from the states. It seems to have worked much better, and doesn't really rub off at all. I suspect this is one of the dyes that was originally for tawed leather and that's why it isn't working on the veg tan.

As a last ditch effort, I took a piece of veg tan and let it soak in my dye jar for a full two hours, just to see if it made any difference. It didn't really do much, other than collect some of the sediment on the leather (which rubbed off pretty easily as well).

I think this recipe is a write-off at this point. I may try one more attempt at my second recipe, which uses strong vinegar, but I'm not particularly hopeful. If that doesn't work, I'll have to try some of the more challenging recipes that involve stronger chemicals like lye. But that probably won't happen for Kingdom A&S.

Still, I do have four colours working now (red, green, yellow and black), which isn't a bad project I think.

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