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Justin B.




Location: Riverside, CA
Joined: 30 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Wed 22 Apr, 2009 4:42 pm    Post subject: Painting leather         Reply with quote

So, for those of you keeping track of the "Show us your shields" thread, I've got myself this shiny new round shield from Allan at Mercenary's Tailor, and I want to paint it!

Happily, I've taped out the pattern I'd like and am ready to start painting. And now, I have questions about that.

Namely, does anyone know if milk paints will adhere adequately to untreated leather? If at all possible, I'd like to get away with only using materials that are at least historically plausible. In other words, no plastics.

Second, in doing research into milk paints, I've come to be aware that they will 'spot' if exposed to water. There seems to be some disagreement as to whether or not this problem resolves itself as the paint cures: some makers claim that the susceptibility to spotting does decrease with time, others imply that it always is. All seem to agree that milk paints applied to directly to wood can be adequately sealed with tung or linseed oil. None seem to know what would happen if this were to be tried on painted leather. Has anyone tried this before? I know that linseed oil, at least, is 'safe' for use on leather (this is how patent leather was made before urethane), but I haven't the slightest clue what it would do when paint is introduced between the two...

Or should I just scrap the milk paint idea entirely and use egg tempera?

Thanks!
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James R.Fox




Location: Youngstowm,Ohio
Joined: 29 Feb 2008

Posts: 253

PostPosted: Sun 26 Apr, 2009 1:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Justin-I was going to say linseed oil is the only period solvent/suspension I know of, Milk and egg based paints are too delicate/
Ja68ms
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Mark Millman





Joined: 10 Feb 2005

Posts: 228

PostPosted: Sun 26 Apr, 2009 7:22 am    Post subject: Re: Painting leather         Reply with quote

Dear Justin,

On Wednesday 22 April 2009, you wrote:
So, for those of you keeping track of the "Show us your shields" thread, I've got myself this shiny new round shield from Allan at Mercenary's Tailor, and I want to paint it!

Happily, I've taped out the pattern I'd like and am ready to start painting. And now, I have questions about that.

Namely, does anyone know if milk paints will adhere adequately to untreated leather?

It undoubtedly depends on the kind of leather. The Mercenary's Tailor Web site only says, as far as I can tell, "roughrider leather", which seems to be a description of the texture and not of the tanning process or finish, if any.

I have a shield faced with untreated vegetable-tanned leather, and milk paint sticks to it with no problem. If your shield is made with veg-tan, milk paint should be fine. Mr. Senefelder should be able to tell you what sort of leather is on your shield.

Quote:
If at all possible, I'd like to get away with only using materials that are at least historically plausible. In other words, no plastics.

Second, in doing research into milk paints, I've come to be aware that they will 'spot' if exposed to water. There seems to be some disagreement as to whether or not this problem resolves itself as the paint cures: some makers claim that the susceptibility to spotting does decrease with time, others imply that it always is. All seem to agree that milk paints applied to directly to wood can be adequately sealed with tung or linseed oil. None seem to know what would happen if this were to be tried on painted leather. Has anyone tried this before? I know that linseed oil, at least, is 'safe' for use on leather (this is how patent leather was made before urethane), but I haven't the slightest clue what it would do when paint is introduced between the two...

My guess, and it's only a guess, is that if linseed oil protects paint on wood, and linseed oil can be used on leather, then linseed oil over paint on leather will be perfectly all right. However, I don't recommend that you try this on your shield. I suggest that you get a scrap of the appropriate type of leather and try it. If it works, proceed to the shield.

Quote:
Or should I just scrap the milk paint idea entirely and use egg tempera?

I'm not aware of strong evidence for early-medieval pigment media. My guess--and again, it's only a guess--is that milk paint was probably common in northern Europe, since dairying was important. Eggs strike me as being both more inconvenient and more expensive, but that's my uninformed modern viewpoint and may not reflect period thought.

Or you could just avoid rain and re-paint from time to time.

Quote:
Thanks!

I hope that this proves helpful.

Best,

Mark Millman
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
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PostPosted: Sun 26 Apr, 2009 7:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Several descriptions I have seen of traditional dyeing methods appear to be water based. http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/leather/ld.html
You could probably make your own blue, green, and red dyes fairly easily. Several of the water based stains (Tandy Leather Supply, Eco Flo product line) do pretty well for the above colors, and I have used them for Scout banners. The acrylic top sealant (finger pumped spray mist type application) does a pretty fair job of sealing them. These are still water based products, with pigments (ocre, etc.) that I am just guessing are not completely dissimilar (they are not new technology chemical inventions) from historical dye components.

I am guessing that white is going to be your most challenging color. We have talked about it before (buff coats, buckskin posts.) These were mineral based pigments. Most of today's white products are really for shoes. Fiebing's offers a white leather dye, but I have never tried it.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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R D Moore




Location: Portland Oregon
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PostPosted: Sun 26 Apr, 2009 11:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Justin

You may already have this, but here is a site for you:
http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manu...hields.htm

William R. Short has a book available from Amazon next month detailing what he's learned about Viking weapons and tactics. The link has a reference to mineral based pigents in oil (linseed maybe?) to both color the leather/wood and protect it from rain and sea spray. As he says, water absorption will make the sheild heavy and unweildy

Sounds like a fun project. Keep us posted if you will.

Go Beavs!!.

"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation" ...Gen. Douglas Macarthur
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Justin B.




Location: Riverside, CA
Joined: 30 Sep 2007
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Reading list: 17 books

Posts: 63

PostPosted: Sun 26 Apr, 2009 4:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the input, all!

It never seems to fail: I start a project that should be relatively straightforward and before I know it I'm sinking all kinds of time and money into it "just to see". Ah well, makes life fun! So I've done a little more research and given some thought to the recommendations you've all given. And I'm gonna try the milk paint... on some leftover scraps of leather first! If that doesn't work, I'll have a go at using linseed oil as a base, or whatever the proper artistic term for it would be. I'm assuming it can just be mixed with pigment and applied, yes? If so... would vegetable-based pigment suffice, or does it really need to be 'ground-up earth' and the like?

I've also been able to confirm from two other sources as well that linseed oil will work to seal milk paints just fine, assuming I can get it to adhere in the first place. Someone else pointed out to me the other day that there was a time when barns were painted, likely with something similar, at least, to milk-based paint. That's got to count for something!

On reflection, a stain would probably be optimal, but as I'd like to ape the colour scheme of my avatar, I'm not sure it would work so well on the dark brown leather that Allan uses on his shields...

Thanks again! I'll be sure to post an update and pictures, once done.

PS~ Mr Moore: Go Beavs indeed! Would the be the Portland Beavers, or my beloved Oregon State? Wink
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Al Muckart




Location: NZ
Joined: 27 Dec 2005

Posts: 309

PostPosted: Sun 26 Apr, 2009 5:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
Several descriptions I have seen of traditional dyeing methods appear to be water based. http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/leather/ld.html
You could probably make your own blue, green, and red dyes fairly easily.


Be aware though that these are for dyes, not paints. Medieval leather wasn't dyed piecemeal like modern stuff is, it was dyed by the hide as part of the tanning/finishing process. If they wanted multiple colors, they used paint.

Quote:
I am guessing that white is going to be your most challenging color. We have talked about it before (buff coats, buckskin posts.) These were mineral based pigments. Most of today's white products are really for shoes. Fiebing's offers a white leather dye, but I have never tried it.


Alum and white lead are both period white pigments. Both can be applied with a variety of binders.

--
Al.
http://wherearetheelves.net
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Al Muckart




Location: NZ
Joined: 27 Dec 2005

Posts: 309

PostPosted: Sun 26 Apr, 2009 6:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Painting leather         Reply with quote

Justin B. wrote:
So, for those of you keeping track of the "Show us your shields" thread, I've got myself this shiny new round shield from Allan at Mercenary's Tailor, and I want to paint it!

Happily, I've taped out the pattern I'd like and am ready to start painting. And now, I have questions about that.


First you need to figure out what sort of surface you're looking at. Is the shield leather, or wood? If it is leather, what sort of leather, and what treatments are already on the leather?

If the leather is already greased or waxy/oily you're going to have a really interesting time getting anything to stick to it, modern or medieval and you may find you need to strip the leather off and recover it with some russet vegetable tanned leather.

[quote]
Namely, does anyone know if milk paints will adhere adequately to untreated leather? If at all possible, I'd like to get away with only using materials that are at least historically plausible. In other words, no plastics.
[quote]

May I ask why you decided on milk paints rather than, say, oil-based or other binders? You're talking about sealing the milk paint with linseed oil so why not just skip the middleman and use an oil-based paint?

You could also consider a hide-glue based binder. Tricky to paint with but it sill stick to leather for sure.

Have a look at naturalpigments.com and find someone who is into medieval scribal stuff. If a paint will stick to parchment it'll most likely stick to leather though you may need to scraper the surface.

--
Al.
http://wherearetheelves.net
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R D Moore




Location: Portland Oregon
Joined: 09 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Sun 26 Apr, 2009 7:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Justin B. wrote:
Thanks for the input, all!

PS~ Mr Moore: Go Beavs indeed! Would the be the Portland Beavers, or my beloved Oregon State? Wink


I had OSU in mind, but the choice is yours! Let's go with both!

"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation" ...Gen. Douglas Macarthur
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