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Ciaran Daly





Joined: 03 Sep 2006

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PostPosted: Mon 19 Nov, 2007 1:35 am    Post subject: Re-dyeing a grip         Reply with quote

Hi folks. I'm expecting my Albion Talhoffer within a week or two and my only complaint is that having bought it second hand the grip will be oxblood and not black. Any tips on dyeing it black without making a hash of things?

best regards,

~ C.
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Christoffer Lorang Dahl




Location: Oslo, Norway
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Nov, 2007 3:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What about normal leather colouring/dying? Or are you looking for a more historical approach?

Step by step here: http://www.ehow.com/how_15423_dye-leather.html

My 50 cent; leave it oxblood, and it will get that nice and aged look after half a year of use. The red is a nice contrast to the steel. But thats just me Happy

Heavy metal!
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Nov, 2007 4:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The one thing to be mindful of is the treatment the grip has been given after initial staining. The leather is treated with wax/oil to recondition after the leather dye has saturated the material.

To add new leather dye you need to remove the fats from the leather by cleaning/rubbing gently with alcohol or similar. This will most probaly lift some of the oxblood dye as well and make a small mess.
You can limit the effects of this by masking the steel with masking tape (at east the blade). You can always clean the steel with another quick wash of aclohol, so no need to worry.

When you feel the leather is cleaned of most of the impregnating wax/oil, you can add another wash of leather dye.
I always color leather when it is slightly damp. You need only wipe the grip with a damp cloth so the surface is darkened by moisture. This helps the leather dye seeping into the leather more evenly. Regardless of this you will porbably notice that the dye will take more in some areas than in others, leaving a mottled and uneven coating. Keep adding more dyeuntill you get an even saturation.
I normally use a brush and paint the dye on, rather than using a sponge, when I add dye to a finished grip. You might want to try using a sponge at first just to see how readily the leather will take the dye.
If there seem to be fat/oily areas that resist the dye, you need to go back a clean them with more alcohol.

Try not to rub the seam to aggressively, as that might wash away the hide glue that keeps the leather down.
If you need to go over the seam with alohol, make sure you do not rub *against* the seam, but in th same direction it overlaps.

Adding black dye to oxblood is not difficult.
I think you will not run into any problems. Just be aware that fat and dye are not happy together. Be sure to clean the grip well, mask the steel components (perhaps even putting a plastic bag over the blade?)and work carefully.

Let the first coating of dye dry and judge the result. You might need to add another coating to even out the color.

You can add dye with a brush or a sponge.

Damp leaher accepts dye more readily.

Overloading the leather with dye does not give a pleasing result. The black color can get an almost metallic sheen if applied too liberally. If you need to wash the grip heavily, you can go back after most of the dyes has been absorbed and remove the ecxess carefully with a dry towel or sponge. Do this with a light hand or you might produce a mottled effect.

Avoid making the leather *too* damp as that might be damaging for the hide glue that keeps the wrapping down (the only concern is the seam, where you should take some extra care not to rub to vigorously). I never run into problems with this, but I still think the seam is an area of *potential* trouble.

Working with leather dye is a little bit like working with watercolor. The final color looks different from the wet dye as it is freshly applied. You need to foster some pateince waiting for the final look to reveal itself. And much depend on the state of the leather: how clean it is, how evenly damp it is and how evenly you can apply the dye.

My advice may make this sound more difficult than it is, I just wanted to point ot some things to be aware of. I dont think you will run into much trouble. If your first wash of dye is not to your liking, you may add another. As you are working with black, there is not danger of getting final color too dark.

Afterwards apply a generous coating of leather conditioner. Use a product that penetrates, and avoid products that produces a varnish like coating. Shops that caters for horse and saddlery equipment should have a good selection of leather conditioning products. I use a leather fat that is pretty much like vaseline. It penetrates deeply and restores lustre and vigour to worn and tired leather.

Good luck.
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Ciaran Daly





Joined: 03 Sep 2006

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PostPosted: Mon 19 Nov, 2007 10:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter, thank you very much! A more thorough and informative reply is hard to imagine. I can't wait to hold my first Albion.

Best regards,

~ Ciaran Daly
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Nov, 2007 11:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Why would you want to dye it black? Of all the grip options Albion offers, black would have been the most difficult to achieve historically. I think for the sake of historical accuracy, you should leave it oxblood, but that is just my $.02...
Personally, I am in the process of removing all black from my kit. Many reenactment groups do not allow black, although some give a pass for sword grips. Not because it is accurate, but because they know that often that is all that is availible in the sword market...

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Ciaran Daly





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PostPosted: Mon 19 Nov, 2007 11:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not a re-enactor and so don't really concern myself with that kind of thing. Historical accuracy is important to me insomuch as it leads to the end result of my holding a fine, beautifully functional sword. So it's really more a question of aesthetics, and on this particular sword I prefer the look of the black grip.
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Nov, 2007 11:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alrighty then. In that case, carry on good Sir...
I would like to add for the sticklers out there. Yes I know that a dye that would appear similar to black could be achieved with an Iron Oxide dye, or with Oak Galls. That is why I said "would have been the most difficult" as opposed to " would have been impossible". Just to clear it up...

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Nov, 2007 11:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robin Smith wrote:
Why would you want to dye it black? Of all the grip options Albion offers, black would have been the most difficult to achieve historically. I think for the sake of historical accuracy, you should leave it oxblood, but that is just my $.02...
Personally, I am in the process of removing all black from my kit. Many reenactment groups do not allow black, although some give a pass for sword grips. Not because it is accurate, but because they know that often that is all that is availible in the sword market...


Black is not difficult to acheive on leather?
Iron/ iron oxide can turn leather black.
If I get iron filings on wet leather it instantly creates black spots. Something to be aware of when you work with leather, actually
Black leather was used in medieval times and earlier. Ive heard accounts that black leather was an export commodity from northern europe (sweden?) in roman times. Sorry, but I cannot remember the source of that fact, so the value of that is of course questionable.

I think that brown hues would have been the common thing and that some black hues, might rather be described as very dark brown. But to exclude black completely would be to go too far I think.
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Nov, 2007 11:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another method:
Clean the grip to get a fresh start, but apply a dark shoe polish instead of leather dye.
This will give you a color that plays with the underlaying oxblood. The result can be rich and attractive.
Repeat shoe polish treatment a couple of times and finish with a cood treatment with penetrating leather fat.
You will probably get a cooring that changes a bit over time, but you can always add another coat of dark brown or black shoe polish.
With time, the grip will get a nice and deep "natural" and rich patina.

...And no, shoe polish is not any more historic than modern leather dye Wink Razz
The end result can stll be pretty nice Happy
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Nov, 2007 12:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
Another method:
Clean the grip to get a fresh start, but apply a dark shoe polish instead of leather dye.
This will give you a color that plays with the underlaying oxblood. The result can be rich and attractive.
Repeat shoe polish treatment a couple of times and finish with a cood treatment with penetrating leather fat.
You will probably get a cooring that changes a bit over time, but you can always add another coat of dark brown or black shoe polish.
With time, the grip will get a nice and deep "natural" and rich patina.

...And no, shoe polish is not any more historic than modern leather dye Wink Razz
The end result can stll be pretty nice Happy



Hi Peter,

Speaking of leather dye...do you what Albion used on the historic scabbard for the Tritonia? The leather has a nice shiny hard surface that I think is really attractive. I just made a scabbard for my Duke by copying that one but I have no idea how to get that smooth surface luster.

New York Historical Fencing Association
www.newyorklongsword.com

Byakkokan Dojo
http://newyorkbattodo.com/
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Nov, 2007 12:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:
[Hi Peter,

Speaking of leather dye...do you what Albion used on the historic scabbard for the Tritonia? The leather has a nice shiny hard surface that I think is really attractive. I just made a scabbard for my Duke by copying that one but I have no idea how to get that smooth surface luster.



The trick is to polish/compress the leather as it dries. There is no shortcut to this, but a plain simple bone knife and carfeful work. If you do not compress the leather after it has been wet, it will develop something like orange peel skin or at least a matte, felty surface.
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Nov, 2007 12:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
Michael Edelson wrote:
[Hi Peter,

Speaking of leather dye...do you what Albion used on the historic scabbard for the Tritonia? The leather has a nice shiny hard surface that I think is really attractive. I just made a scabbard for my Duke by copying that one but I have no idea how to get that smooth surface luster.



The trick is to polish/compress the leather as it dries. There is no shortcut to this, but a plain simple bone knife and carfeful work. If you do not compress the leather after it has been wet, it will develop something like orange peel skin or at least a matte, felty surface.


Thanks! Mine did in fact develop orange peel skin. It looks kinda nice, but I prefer the glossy look.

New York Historical Fencing Association
www.newyorklongsword.com

Byakkokan Dojo
http://newyorkbattodo.com/
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Nov, 2007 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
Black is not difficult to acheive on leather?
Iron/ iron oxide can turn leather black.
If I get iron filings on wet leather it instantly creates black spots. Something to be aware of when you work with leather, actually
Black leather was used in medieval times and earlier. Ive heard accounts that black leather was an export commodity from northern europe (sweden?) in roman times. Sorry, but I cannot remember the source of that fact, so the value of that is of course questionable.

I think that brown hues would have been the common thing and that some black hues, might rather be described as very dark brown. But to exclude black completely would be to go too far I think.

Peter: I know, please see my second post:
Quote:
I would like to add for the sticklers out there. Yes I know that a dye that would appear similar to black could be achieved with an Iron Oxide dye, or with Oak Galls. That is why I said "would have been the most difficult" as opposed to " would have been impossible". Just to clear it up...

I would like to say however that an Iron Oxide black does not look like a modern chemical black. Iron Oxide black most certainly has hints of red, grey and brown in it. It looks in essence like black rust or a deep charcoal grey. It is less smooth, even, or deep of a black than can be achieved with modern chemical dyes.
I have a scabbard that Greg Griggs made for me where the strapping is an extremely dark chocolate. If one saw it at a distance you might think black. But if examined next to chemical black the difference is obvious. A chemical black looks so much more modern. The deep chocolate strapping on my scabbard, although dark enough to be close to black, still has rich brown hints, especially where it highlights along the edges. Modern chemical blacks however have no hint of anything but black in them. They are stark...
Natural blacks (from Iron Oxide or Oak Galls) have hints of something, either browns or reds. Not so with the stark black that results from more modern dyes.
If a person wants a black grip out of personal aesthetics, that is great, and they should feel free to use it. However many groups are forced to limit the amount of black allowed. True black dyes were rare (certainly much rarer than we see availible on the market now) until the late middle ages, and most (especially when on fabric) faded very quickly because they were not color fast. So it is easier for most groups to ban black, than try and allow one or two people to have it. Yes it existed, but it wasn't nearly as common as brown or red dyes.

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Ciaran Daly





Joined: 03 Sep 2006

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PostPosted: Fri 23 Nov, 2007 2:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
Another method:
Clean the grip to get a fresh start, but apply a dark shoe polish instead of leather dye.
This will give you a color that plays with the underlaying oxblood. The result can be rich and attractive.
Repeat shoe polish treatment a couple of times and finish with a cood treatment with penetrating leather fat.
You will probably get a cooring that changes a bit over time, but you can always add another coat of dark brown or black shoe polish.
With time, the grip will get a nice and deep "natural" and rich patina.

...And no, shoe polish is not any more historic than modern leather dye Wink Razz
The end result can stll be pretty nice Happy


Now this sounds really cool. Imagining some raised eyebrows when I am asked "how'd you get that color?" and I answer "shoe polish"...

I take it the initial step you mentioned upthread of stripping out the oxblood color with some alcohol would be skipped in this method?

Best regards,

~ Ciaran
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Nov, 2007 12:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ciaran Daly wrote:
Peter Johnsson wrote:
Another method:
Clean the grip to get a fresh start, but apply a dark shoe polish instead of leather dye.
This will give you a color that plays with the underlaying oxblood. The result can be rich and attractive.
Repeat shoe polish treatment a couple of times and finish with a cood treatment with penetrating leather fat.
You will probably get a cooring that changes a bit over time, but you can always add another coat of dark brown or black shoe polish.
With time, the grip will get a nice and deep "natural" and rich patina.

...And no, shoe polish is not any more historic than modern leather dye Wink Razz
The end result can stll be pretty nice Happy


Now this sounds really cool. Imagining some raised eyebrows when I am asked "how'd you get that color?" and I answer "shoe polish"...

I take it the initial step you mentioned upthread of stripping out the oxblood color with some alcohol would be skipped in this method?

Best regards,

~ Ciaran


No, it is not the oxblood you wash away, it is the oils/fat that has been used *after* the dye to give the leather a conditioning.
Perhaps you would not have to do that in preparation for the shoe polish as that is also fat, but I would recommend it anyway, just to give you a clean surface to start working with.

You should not rub with alcohol to remove the oxblood color. You should just be prepared that *some* of the leather dye will be dissolved and create a little mess. Do not wear your best clothes.
Wink
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Ciaran Daly





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PostPosted: Sat 24 Nov, 2007 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Duly noted Peter. Thanks again!
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