Ahhh, natural vegetable tanned leather. It looks so beautiful when its brand new and just like a human traversing through life, it truly becomes more beautiful and filled with character as it evolves and ages. It’s called patina. No two veg tan pieces are alike. And no two pieces will ever age the exact same way.
Natural vegetable tanned leather is like a blank canvas. It’s beauty will start to materialise as soon as you move through life with it. As soon as you start to use veg tan leather products they will start to darken or caramelise in color. There is no stopping this from occurring. At all. How it darkens depends on what you expose it to, the environment in which it lives, the amount of light it’s exposed to, whether it’s exposed to water, dirt, the oils of your skin, the indigo of your denim or the application of leather conditioner. All of which will affect your leather in a very different way. The bottom line is the more you use and handle it, the darker it will become. Some are scared of it. Don’t be. Like ageing, it all just looks more and more interesting. Natural vegetable tanned leather starts off looking a range of different tones. It can look light beige, light tan, a slight bit pink or a very very light caramel. You will notice is turning various shades until it darkens. Its a fascinating process. Some people find they absolutely love helping their veg tan along in the ageing patina process by handling the leather a lot with their hands, applying conditioner, sitting it in the sun to tan like our skin does.
The first time your leather gets an accidental splash of water or oil on it, might distress some, but we promise you it will all just blend in and you eventually end up with a beautifully patinated piece of leather that will be as unique as you. We think it really looks better with age.
For most people, veg tan leather will always keep a caramel look to it if they limit the amount of light it receives and if they manage to keep it fairly clean. Not everyone is this neat. The majority of people will manage to get it a darker caramel color.
Tips for assisting your veg tan leather with the patina process
Expose it to the sun
Sitting it on a very sunny spot will darken your leather. It will tan just like skin does. It will go from its natural color and start to first develop a pink tone and gradually it will get more of a red tone
Apply leather conditioner
Certain conditioners and oils will darken leather in different ways. We use a range of products but our two favorites are Neatsfoot oil and Obenaufs. Neatsfoot comes in an oil form and you applying it lightly over the leather. Don’t apply too much as over application can over saturate your leather which can cause it to rot. Neatsfoot tends to give natural veg tan leather more of a golden caramel color. Obenaufs comes is solid and you rub that into the leather lightly being careful not to get any in between the stitching as this will be hard to remove and also doesnt look very good. Obenaufs tends to give help your leather darken in more of a reddish tone.
Expose it to life
Don’t be afraid to get your product dirty. Handle it, oil it, leave it sitting in the sun, drop if a few times, put it in your denim pockets, don’t freak out when a little splash of water falls on it or when you see some dirt on it from your hands. The culmination of all these stains over time will all blend in together and start to look a beautiful dark caramel and even a dark brown in extreme situations. Have fun with it.
Got any of our natural vegetable tanned leather products? Send us some photos. We’d love to see how they are coming along and developing their own patina.
Bas and Lokes