Introduction: How-To-Dye Soft Leather (For Robin)

About: Hi, we're Dara and Nash. Industrial designers, tinkers, and mayhem builders. Follow our travels.
Happy birthday to my friend Robin. She asked me how to dye leather for a Game of Thrones party we're throwing for a leather map and I am happily complying. In case any of you aren't Game of Thrones nuts, I will let you watch this 1 min video for the Map of Westeros which is available for iPad/iPhone. You can also find it in the front of Martin's books in the front pages ( which is available off Amazon or any major bookstore in the country.

To Dye Soft Leather for Custom Maps You Will Need:

Leather Dyes
Leather Hide To Be Dyed
Paintbrushes (Various Sizes)

Step 1: Get Your File and Trace It on Leather

Alright, this first you need a file or line drawing you are trying to make. This may be anything from a small sketch or large map. Blow it up to the appropriate size you need (kinkos/fedex does a great job of this) and trace it out on your leather.

I am doing a dragon here.

Step 2: Carve Leather (Optional)

Alright, this part is optional so I'm skipping through it as there's so many methods and ways to carve leather in the industry, I could spend hours discussing this and various methods both new and old.

For the sample, I'm showing here, the dragon was hand-carved in 3D for custom armor. If you're just painting a map on chrome soft leather hides skip this part and move directly onto the dying stage.

Step 3: Dye the Light Colors First (with Oil Dyes)

Alright, dying...always start with the lightest color first (especially with oil dyes). Some dyers will put down a layer of white first to help make all your colors pop, but I find this unnecessary.

Another trick if you are only doing 1-2 colors is to find a chrome dyed soft leather hide in the lightest color you plan on dying the piece, then you only have to paint in the darker colors).

Step 4: Dye the Darker Colors Next

Next add, the darker colors and several layers of the stain to build up the color you want. Ideally you want to wait 24 hrs. between applications. If you are dying a light-weight 2 oz. hide this may only be 3-4 applications, but heavier thicker pieces will require more. The small dragon you see in this picture still needs a couple more coats in my opinion. And for this piece some fine detail swirls/antiquing at the end. When you are done, coat the leather with a water-proof finish to keep the dye from ruining or staining other pieces.

Still this should give you a good idea of how to do it. :-)

Happy Birthday girl!