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What is the best paint to use on leather?

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  • What is the best paint to use on leather?

    I saw some where that you can use acrylic paint on leather as long as you dilute it with acrylic paint thinner, but also saw that when going into different areas there are different mediums of acrylic paint thinner. What would be best.
    I am painting a design on a friends leather skirt. I know oil paints wouldnt be a good idea. I am open foe suggestions, not that much yime til I have to start the project. Please help. thanks spiritfawn

  • #2
    I've used acrylic on buckskin. I've gotten my best results with tole painting acrylics not good artist's paints. Use water to thin it not gel, matte, or gloss medium. You don't really need those unless you want to alter the surface finish and transparency of the color. They will preserve your drying times. Water will increase the time to dry.

    Acrylics don't really penatrate the hide, so the paint is on the surface. They form a thin plastic layer on top. While it bends well, it does not stretch much. If the skin gets stretched the paint will crack. Under real punishment, it can flake off leaving just a stain.

    Some fabric pens are arcylics and may be a bit more stretch resistant. They certainly make application easier.

    If you are not trying for fine details, try Tandy leather dyes (but not the --- uh -- I think Spectra line, which is just acrylic). These will penatrate the fibers and become entrapped between the protein chains. These need to be used carefully since they do bleed during application. They can also stain skins folded against them for long periods of time. But the colors are spectacular and even.

    Earth pigments can be used. You can mix them with water and use calligraphiers pens or old style porous bone brushes to apply fine lines. Large areas can be colored by misting the hide lightly and applying the pigment using a bag made from several layers of cheese cloth.

    I have known a artist who made clothing for the Anglo market and she used Procion fiber reactive dyes. These would take some experimentation to get right. And Procion dyes need to be treated with respect since they can be harmful if not used correctly.


    • #3
      Thank you olchemist, that sure has helped me a lot. Fawn


      • #4
        I have one more question. I have burned pictures into leather instead of painting them. But that was for decoration, and not being worn. Would you think it would be a combination that I can burn and paint the design in? It would be the lower part of the skirt. Went away from beading it cause that wouldve made the garment too heavy for the area that needs covered. (Has anyone ever burned a design in leather that is to be worn?)


        • #5
          Hey there spirit!!!
          I did a combo of burning and painting. It was on the front of a traditional dress. The yoke of the dress now has a flying hawk on it for the young gal and she learned by my hand how to burn it in place and she painted the colours in to match the colours of the hawk. Not one bead on it and it looks awesome. Her muckluck style mocs have a whirlwind pattern on the toe with blowing feathers and on the outside of the moc there is the same hawk. On the inside of the foot is the trailing feather but larger and well done in detail. As well I just finished a vest that has two big hawk feathers on the front with conshos. The back of the vest is a big medicine wheel with three strands of feahters, as well burnt in!!! So yes the patterns canbe burnt into worn items!! My high stepping mocs are burnt as well,,, oh ya my vest has a complete scene burnt on the whole thing too. Up here there are a few of us in this field.
          Listen to my heart, not just my mouth! The most powerfull thing we can do is,,,share,,, if we don't it dies with us.

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