Project: Arm Bracers

I started this project a few weeks ago, you can see the original post here, down below the funny picture. Well, I finally sat down and finished the painting and applied a matte finish. I’m pretty happy with the results, once you step past the fact that this is a prototype job – there is a flaw in the leather, and the dye job is pretty atrocious.

Let me take a moment to go into that. On the bottle, the directions clearly state “wipe off the excess dye with a cloth before letting it dry”. What they don’t say is WHY. Here’s why: if you don’t, that puddle of dye will seep into the corners of your cuts and pool up. When it does dry, the liquid medium will have gone away, leaving a crust of pigment behind. If you don’t go back and gently scrape it off, it will flake away over time and / or as the piece is bent and moved.

It’s a bad thing, and easily preventable. And despite your normal reaction in this modern world, do not reach for a paper towel. Paper towels can leave behind lint which may get stuck in the dye, not to mention the fact that they wick that dye right back into your hand. Being the father of a teenager, I have a ton of old t-shirts the boy grew out of before he destroyed them, and I cut them into rags for this purpose.

The tricky part is when to wipe it off – do it too soon, and the dye doesn’t penetrate. Wait a few minutes after applying the dye, and see how well it is absorbing into the leather. If any of the dye doesn’t sink in after a couple of minutes, then you can wipe it up.

Now, on with the pictures: We’ll start with an almost-halfway point. I have shaped the piece, and traced out the entire pattern then cut the center star.

In progress

If you look closely, you’ll notice a couple flaws in this piece. It was supposed to be the final version, but I made a couple mistakes when transferring the pattern – it twisted on me slightly. this is why you should use tracing paper and not opaque paper!

This is also why I’m using cheap belly and not the expensive stuff. $25 for a 6-foot by 15-inch piece of scrap is well worth it once you calculate in the knowledge you gained by using it for test work.

The second flaw is a spot in the upper right-hand corner: I dripped a little water here and it dried before I could wipe it up. Since I planned to dye this piece it wouldn’t have been an issue, but it is something you need to watch out for if you want to keep a natural finish.

On to the completed test piece:


You can’t really see it in the picture, but the open spaces to the sides of the star are weakly dyed, and the color is not uniform. Fortunately, the matte finish I applied after painting it has blended the flaws in pretty well, and I could almost ignore it for my personal use. (I wouldn’t give something like this to a friend, though.)

I am very pleased with the way the paint turned out though. Nice even color throughout, and that matte finish gives it a nice, even shine without being too gaudy. This all proves that it can be done, I just need more practice.

Stay tuned for the next project: the Cleaver Scabbard.

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