How to dye leather in 13 terrifying steps (hint, 10 are the same)

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We now have a fabulous dining room.

The realization that I CAN COLOUR LEATHER

Now, you have to put yourself into my position, and I bet you know what that position is. Yes. More colour and DIY’s for erryone!

So, imagine my excitement when I realized that there was actually a way of changing colour on the jarring white leather dining room chairs that were in my general possession.  A cold March afternoon I got searching for solutions, and I found a website selling stuff to make old colours of leather go bye-bye!

After eyeballing the entire website that was enlightening me of this magical interior decorating-unicorn I was sweating with excitement and fell all over myself out of the couch, tumbled down the stairs to the basement like an avalanche of unsure outcomes and taking risks with someone else’s possessions and after a few hasty steps over the original 1970’s snotty green patterned vinyl flooring, I flew into the cave we call an office space. I informed my partner that EITHER WE’RE GOING FAB or… he’s paying for six new comfortable dining chairs after I sort of really ruin the ones we have. Are you in?!

He, in his usual, almost uncannily positive enabler-form, gave me a thumbs up and patted me on the butt.

No misgivings? No hesitancy? Well that was far too easy! It’s like he trusts me to succeed in my endeavors? What does this mean? In my mind, all the possible dreamy DIY scenarios popped right up from Fantasy Box nr. 3 and tried to squeeze themselves into my rational, sane, held-back-horizon and oh no, this is gonna end badly.

Once I regained my bearings and had managed to return to the couch, I hovered my clickety-click over the ”Order”-button on earlier mentioned unicorn-website. Am I doing it? I am doing it. I’m gonna go out on a limb and maybe trash six perfectly functioning chairs because I can’t stand them in the deathly depressing shade of whatever terror society calls ”white”. Destroyed and brown is better than white and pristine, AMIRIGHT? Okay, so you don’t have to agree with me, but here’s how I did it anyway! Click and off the order went!

First of all, for anyone of you out there that would like to try this yourselves. The colour dubbed ”Dark Dark Brown”, wasn’t brown at all. It was a dark, dark purple. Totally in order, said the company because according to them, people usually prefer a lot of redness in their dark brown leather goods. Madness. I didn’t, and was offered to send the bottle back (even though I’d used it a little to sample) and get a new, cooler, less red one called ”Dark Brown” sent to me instead. And might I say, Dark Brown is well, dark brown. DIY saved!

Prep work

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Starting off with white chairs that didn’t mesh with the moody, sultry dining room at all.

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The magic! Okay, so I realized afterwards that I didn’t need the Ultra Clean nor the Protection Cream, but I’m sure I can use them later on for something else.

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Leather supplies, an old broken sock cut into three for the cleaning steps (the cloth bled pink so I didn’t use that one), a work space consisting of the floor with some cardboard, as usual…, and a packet of gloves because once you drop one of those boxes on the floor at a tattoo shop, it’s either the garbage or it’s going home with you to serve it’s lifetime with dyeing hair or cleaning stuff, and not being around people’s freshly made tattoos.

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The first phase of cleaning was SO SATISFYING.

Scrubbing six chairs with two cleaning agents wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had, but hey. I felt safe, it was going well, the white colour rubbed off on my cleaning sock as they mentioned on the website. Things were going well. Maybe I’m not gonna mess this up?! There are different kinds of leather and different types of faux leather, all which can be dyed this way, but they have different cleaning needs. I wasn’t too sure so I chanced it a little, *ahem*, but it turned out right!

The dyeing

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The first layer went on… like this. Oh shit. I’ve ruined the chair. This is NEVER GONNA work! Cue me, sipping coffee, staring at the horrible chair. An electrician peeped in to tell me something, looked at the chair, didn’t mention it and kept on working. Yeah. I’m screwed. Now we have to sell five perfectly fine chairs with an sixth ugly cousin added for free. Dangit! But the website did say not to try and make the first layer even, so yeah no that’s not gonna happen even if I did try so…

Now it’s too late, might as well continue, right?

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Layer three and two. Oh, okay… So there’s hope right?

Now, I am gonna add that the company recommends using a sponge for the first and second layer, and then airbrushing the colour on until satisfied. I do not have an airbrush-thingie, so.. I sponged it all the way. In hindsight, I’d say that if you are gonna dye large areas of leather, get an airbrush. Just do it.

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Here we’re into layers four and five I think. Three? I’m not sure. There were soo many layers.

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Neeeveereeending stoooory, aah aah aahh aaaaaah.

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Layers seven? Eight? Even the owl I caught peeping was doubting that this would ever be finished.

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But then! After sponging on ten, yes, ten layers, they all looked like this! The dye itself is a little sticky, so I wouldn’t recommend doing it over the span of a couple of days like I did, because dust and lint gets stuck on the surface and.. yeah, well, it’s in there forever now. Summary: Get a fricking airbrush and just sweep over it all, man.

Altough, I’m always more keen to approve of a little faulty things made by me, so I don’t mind it that much. The imperfections and all that. They’re fine even though I may have wanted it perfect.

After the dye layers, you need to put on a leather finish, that are available in shiny as fuck, satin softness and matte dusty desert. I chose the satin variety.

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So, being without an airbrush, I brushed the finish on. I tried getting it a little thicker on there with the brush and I did three layers to really make it solid and be able to hold hopefully for years and years to come. I tried making it all even and I checked before it dried if it looked okay, which it did. But as you can see, the finish is really uneven, and it’s apparent in most lights. So I would reallllly recommend using an airbrush for ALL OF IT. But hey, done is done, and I’m pleased anyways. And, I’ve learned a whole lot on dyeing/painting leather!

Would totally do again with the lessons in mind. I give myself a… 4/5, one point extra for bravery.

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Now I have a much nicer view into the dining room from the sofa! Yay!

Going full Goldmember

It’s been quiet for a little while on my little space in... the web space. I could claim that I’ve been doing anything much but I’ve mostly just painted stuff, anything I could get my hands on in the shade of silver or white, really. Oh, and I’ve been spending wayyy too much time with electricians because we’re SAVING US FROM TERRIBLE DEATHS AND FIRES, shortly speaking.

We can just condense the last few weeks experience into a sigh of relief and an older man saying “Oh damn, I have to tell the owner about this” while stomping down the stairs. DON’T YOU COME DOWN THE STAIRS AND TELL ME ABOUT ANOTHER FIRE HAZARD, SHERYL. Okay, so it was less of a fire hazard and more of a “You’re fucking lucky to be alive” kind of situation this time, very well then. And also, my little statement in the last post about not actually touching electrical things because they’re not for us DIA’ers still holds true, because if an actual electrician tells you to hold something or to shove cables into a little pipe in the wall, it’s okay to do it.

But hey, it’s nice having a house, that’s bleeding money and could be considered fatal at times. It is. I mean. It is. Yeah. It is.

Moving on.

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Speaking of DIA’ers, I’m coming to you with half of what I’ve actually been doing on my off-electrician time since we spoke last. I don’t know about you, but at least I am a person that wants to banish pretty much everything in silver from my life, and replace it with gold. That’s right. The last few weeks, I’ve gone full Goldmember, and I’m not even done yet.

You know how it goes; I got a hold of that bottle of golden paint and just sort of swiped random things throughout the house and made them sparkle in the dazzle of sunlight. At least that rough concrete-dust-soot corner in the horror room now shines bright like the sun. Gold has never hurt anyone, right!

It all started with a lamp that my partner brought with him into our mutual home. He did wish it was gold instead of the shiny silver hue that it had, and the expression on his face when I told him that there’s actually a golden version of it… It’s just not available at our little Ikea, because almost nothing is. When we visited an Ikea in a larger town an hour away, we stared at like 24 of them. Lined up, almost just to spite him. “I can paint it, but it won’t look like that”, I said and pointed at the chromey shiney deliciousness of the golden lamps. He hissed “Do it, we already have it!” and started looking at something that didn’t offend him instead.

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The main offender 

Yes, I changed the white lamp shade to a beige one (huge surprise!), and I am gonna paint the rest of the cord. I just need the useless months before I get my hand out of my ass and do it. You know the drill.

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Then there were those baroquey candle holders that I bought for a surprising low sum ten years ago. I’ve always liked them, but also kind of thought they needed some sprucing up. Oh! Look! I have some leftover golden paint on my brush, whoops, just so happened to swipe it across my candle holders!

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 Look at that enhancement! It’s fit for a porn site ad, but without making outrageous claims!

And then, my friends, then there were the silvery huge candle sticks that my partner brought with him. I’m so fortunate that he wants to banish all the damn silver he brought into my life, geesh. With these, I tried something new. Something different. Something in a spray can. Yes. I dared sacrifice my partner’s candle holders to take my goldspray-virginity. Just for him. *cough*And hey, it’s not perfect, there’s bits of silver peeping through and I sort of sprayed dust into place (no one told me I had to dust off the tops between sprayings, how could I possibly know that a room made of crumbling plaster would dust my stuff!), but if you don’t look very closely, or squint a lot, they almost look like they ARE perfect! Good enough for this DIA’er!

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Much like missing a before picture of the now golden lamp, this was the only picture I could find that has the silvery thingies in them, because I really need to start taking pictures of things I don’t like very much as well.

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Next up is a bunch of cords, maybe some pipes and the chrome legs of the dining chairs I coloured… lemme tell you about the chairs a little later.

How to do DIY yourself! (yes, it's supposed to be read that way)

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If you’re anything like me, you’re a stubborn, home-decorating DIYer with a flair for the fun instead of the fancy. Aka, you persist on focusing on projects that are bordering on or hover just above your general level of knowledge, skill and for the most part, laziness, and just DO IT ANYWAY.

Maybe I should call it ”DIAer”…

Because even if the simple spice rack is built from like eight bits of wood that have just been sawed off right in the middle, they’re still not equally long, straight, nor even. The thing didn’t even fit right but I... made it fit. Hehehe. *whirrs electrical screwdriver and winks* One shelf leans outwards (I have no idea why) so it’s just a matter of time before the salt and pepper grinder starts sliding closer to its sudden doom. But, if that happens, I’ll just nail a little wood strip there and TADA, problem solved and the spice rack is back to fucking PERFECT again.

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Don’t let anyone fool you. The kitchen table is a perfectly suitable spice rack until YOU say otherwise!

So hey! Here’s my guide how YOU can be as awesome as me in doing home projects and get pleased enough by the result that you’re inclined to make tutorials on the internet!  

1. Wander about your own home, stare at sections of it and feel slight feelings of discontentment. Or get angry with messes and stuff that has no homes, that’s the most efficient one.

2. Research what you want instead. Dream big, gurl! Do you want to paint your entire bedroom a forest green and place build storage perfectly adapted to your needs and add copper piping just because it’s pretty? Save that shit in your inspiration folder. The things you do later on may look nothing like it, but NO ONE CAN STEAL YOUR DREAMS! 

3. Make an actual plan of what needs to be done. Measurements of the place of project, its needs, your needs, prep work, materials, how you like it to be, where you can shortcut the shit out of it (this is important for us lazy people). 

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The importance of having a proper place to DIY is just propaganda from the workbench lobby, I swear.

4.  Invest in or gather all that paraphernalia that you need for your project to go through. I would say that good quality tools are a great way to start, but that makes me sound like some kind of professional person and we don’t want that!

5. This is the most important step; Lower your standards. I know, I know, but the rule of not lowering your standards cannot apply to DIY’s because even the most skilled ones that make magical things the general public drops their coffee cups in awe over, are displeased afterwards. Yes, we’re JUST LIKE the awesome ones! We can do it (on our level)!

6. Do it. Make it. Swear over it. Shove that shit together even though it’s not really fitting together anymore and you don’t understand why. If needed, use screws and glue and tape and industrial straps. If being reaaally careful and finicky isn’t really your thing, just wing it when it feels good! It’s all fine! 

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Some say that need is the mother of invention, but
one should not underestimate the importance of laziness.

7. Fasten your stuff properly; you don’t want your projects to meet their doom in loose screws getting detached from the wall. If anything, they’re gonna end their lives by you getting fed up with them. Install that marvel and finish it off, don’t leave half assed projects lying around. What? What’s in the corner? Oh it’s just the drawers I’m supposed to assemble… later. All those framed pictures on the floor? They’re going up… soon. Hm, what? Oh, that’s just boxes of stuff we’re donating.. shortly.

8. Enjoy your work of DIA-art and use the hell out of it! It’s AWESOME! YOU MADE IT! Yeah, so I COULD BUY a spice rack but why would I want to when I could make it myself and get it… well not exactly as I wanted it, but pretty dang close because everything I make myself automatically gets added awesomeness and forgiveness, and also I lowered my standard! 

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9. Post that piece of wonder on the internet. The internet needs more pleasantly passable DIY’s, more tolerable storage solutions, more decent interior home projects of the ”not bad” persuasion.

10. And don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!

(11.) And keep the fuck away from plumbing and electricity; we're not made for that.

Once, I made a soft, studded pinboard

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Yeah I mean, I just wanted to. Don’t ask me why.

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Cork and stuffing.

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Random paraphernalia needed to get it all together. Sharp things, stabby things, soft things.

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A piece of foam was cut into the same size as the board.

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And then I gridded where I wanted the studs. Then I drilled holes for the studs.

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Then I just put the fabric over the foam, sort of how I wanted it.

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I didn’t actually know a professional way of doing this so I merely put nails through the holes of the board and through the foam to see where the studs were going,

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Then it was time for the studs, I had to cut a little to get them through the fabric.

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I made a row at a time because the fabric wants to move when pressed down into the holes.

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Finally!

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In the corners, there the screws for the wall mounting where supposed to sit, I placed little metal washers so the screws wouldn’t ruin or go through the board with time.

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Then I fastened the fabric on the back, constantly flipping it over to see that it’s was working the way I wanted.

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TADA! I was never really keen on the fabric and some time on the future I’m making a faux leather one.

Once I made a tiny little cake

Fråga mig inte vart infallet kom ifrån men, mina vänner, jag följde det.

Allt som behövs! Den lilla, lilla klyvyxan kan ha varit med, för ahem, roligt.

En liten pannkaka! 

Tripp trapp trull!

En grön med mycket gult blir marsipan! 

Och så en liten ros! 

Klart man ska skära en bit också. Och det svarta luddet över hela tårtan (pyssla i svarta kläder i en svart soffa, ahem) bidrar tillsammans med fingeravtrycken till en rustik, hemmagjord känsla som alla tycker om så mycket nu. Ni vet, det var meningen.

Filofax DIY: Dividers from hell

I bought this model of the Filofax A5 six months ago, and I haven't regretted it for a second. I had been staring at it on various forums on the internet for a year before I decided it was to be mine, and yes. I love it. And it has taken up a lot of creativity time and I've invested quite a bit in this leather dressed beauty, and I thought I'd show it off a little. Well, at least the dividers. 

Filofax Malden in Ochre, you beautiful bastard.

First page, post-its and stuff for easy access.

The next part isn's as polished but that's okay because it's functional. But, look to the right. Here we get into the dividers. For those of you who kind of squint at the picture with the owl and wonder "Is that people without heads doing strange stuff?" than I can confirm, yes, yes it is. Some of you may recognize the the work of Hieronymus Bosch and his weird people and sly owls. I may or may not have that very owl tattooed on myself because I love it so much.

The image is of course a part of his epic triptych painting "The Garden of Earthly Delights", one of the 16th century's most awesome works of art. All the dividers are taken from this painting. 

Divider number two was decorated with Adam and Eve in the company of birds and God.

Divider number three got to be represented by a person making out with a pig in a nuns headdress (everything in this painting carries a sharp societal commentary, as you might have guessed).

The music instruments from the 16th century is also hanging out in hell, together with people that in their earthly lives danced a little too much with fruits (of course, a nod at people's sinful sexual lives) and therefore deserved ending up among the monsters in the darkness.

Oh, so yeah, you get passed through beasts while you're at it too.

The last divider got one of my favourite parts of the painting. It's magical with its beams of light protruding through the foggy darkness. Wonderful.

I just cropped out and printed the pictures, put them together with the existing divider (to get the tab nicely) and put laminating sheets on either side and had to finally TAPE the whole thing together with regular see-through tape because the laminating sheets were useless at keeping together by themselves. 

I like it! 

Finally I got it done!: Colouring a little shelf

Yeah, so, that thing about plans and DIY sometimes have a tendency to... drag out. I bought this fancy shelf at Panduro and thought I'd dye it. Two years ago. I still used it and looked at it sometimes and thought to myself, I should dye that. 

Then I sort of figured I could use it as a makeup shelf and therefore happened to stare at it much more often than I had before, and it just clicked last Sunday when I rummaged through my makeup and.. Yeah, I just did it. I took Panduro's Hobby Paint in the shade "Coffee", a favorite kind of antique brown shade, diluted it in water and then just painted over the entire shelf with a brush. I sample checked the colour on the back of the shelf first.

I like wood, but not the light kind of "scandinavian blonde" shade that is so popular now.

Pretty simple, although a little messy because the dye is so runny when diluted.

Tada!

I sorted out things I didn't want in the shelf and put in new ones, and the whole process only took like 20 minutes. Gosh. “Just do it” has never been more fitting. Just do it! Don’t wait silly years and years!