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Monday, June 1, 2015

It's Like Cooking But You Don't Get To Eat Anything At The End - Patina Experiments Continued

Some people play golf at the weekend. Some go to fine dining restaurants. Others watch their kids play sport. Some jump in their cars and head off to the country. Others stay at home. Some cook for their friends. I make patina.

It sounds pathetic but it is my outlet. I need it and it is somewhat therapeutic. I am under no constraints to deliver a final product. The pleasure is not in the result but in the simple act of doing and in indulging in that modern luxury that so few of us can afford ourselves - free time.

This weekend I made a patina for two pairs of shoes. One was a pair of Barker brogue slippers which I acquired from Shoes Of Distinction which is based in the UK and offers wonderful examples of the best of English, French, Spanish and Italian shoe making on the 'used' market. I say 'used' in inverted commas because it's not an adequate description. Some shoes are barely worn, others are new but factory seconds or have some blemish on the leather. Others are thoroughly worn but can be re-soled and brought back to life and there are some there that are positively finished as a working shoe but are like pieces of art. Brands such as GJ Cleverley, Berluti, Gucci, Hermes, Zegna, Stefanobi, Crocket & Jones, Edward Green, Cheaney, Gaziano & Girling, Prada, Church's and so on are all represented on the Ebay store. The wonderful thing that I draw from is that it's not about me owning and wearing the shoes, I have enough already, but it does allow me to spot a beauty which I know I can either bring back to life or add some character to.

The other thing I must note is that none of this would be possible without the help of Exquisite Trimmings. Almost all the dyes, brushes, pommades and waxes that I use come from Shaya Green, the owner. It's not easy to source Saphir in Australia. Although Double Monk in Melbourne have a good selection of Saphir products, they are in Melbourne and I am in Sydney. They also do not stock the Saphir dyes which are very important to patina.

Barker Brogue Slippers

This was a lovely shoe. It was a light brown and when I saw it on Shoes Of Distinction I knew that whilst it was perfectly fine in it's existing tone it would be perfect for my intended purple patina. What I learnt along the way is that with leather dyes, if you don't start on a white leather to begin with, you can never expect the leather to dye to the colour you expect it too. So, after stripping with acetone and thinners I was surprised that the dye took in a manner which delivered a more wine/burgundy colour than purple. The dyes were applied using a beaver fur brush with a medium tip. I worked black dye into the brogue details and then applied light strokes of purple throughout the shoe going back over the shoes in layers to deliver a final result. I also kept handy a cotton pad which I used to wipe away excess dye if it ran and to merge the last brush stroke with the previous brush strokes by running the pad across the strokes. Where a stroke was too dark I would daub the pad in alcohol to try and soften the stroke colour. In the final instance I used a Saphir pommade in red and then a black wax to finish the shoes. The glacage below took roughly four iterations to get to the stage below.


With the wholecuts below I experimented on something I had been wanting to do for some time but found myself fearful of the result. By using a masking tape I divided the shoe into two components and used green on the heel of the shoe and red across the toe box. Where the two colours met I used alcohol to dilute the dyes and try to merge them. Note also the lighter centre stroke which runs through the shoe which is made by diluting the dye in alcohol before applying brush strokes so you get a tonality of dark to light to dark across the heel of the shoe and in parts along the toe box.

For more information on shoes see Shoes Of Distinction and for more information on dyes, waxes and pommades, see Exquisite Trimmings.

You can see the first later of dye on the left. To the right, the original light brown colour of the Barker brogue slippers. 

Excuse the Berluti shoe trees but they were all I had spare to work the shoes. Shoe trees are excellent for glacage because they give a hard surface against which you can polish the shoes. 

Green dye at the rear, red and the front. You will also note the lighter middle brush strokes which were made by diluting the green in alcohol. 

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