So I had to step away from the shoes after I was finished with them Friday night. I did a search on the internet and through a link on AAAC, I was brought back to this thread on SF with the inside info by Ron Rider on antiquing. Though I did not want to, I knew I had to pretty much start over if I wanted to save these shoes. The funny thing is that Ron specifically said "The last thing you want to do is coat the shoe in 1 or 2 levels of dye and then try to polish it out...you end up with highly contrasted streaks, taky build-up of dye and a non-durable finish." - Basically exactly what I did in the beginning. By the time I went to bed Friday, I had a plan and was eager to work on the shoes again the next day.
So Sat night (4/11/09) I sat down and started my new plan. The first 4 steps were:
1) Strip off the dye with deglazer.
2) Condition with Lexol.
3) Strip off the dye with deglazer.
4) Condition with Lexol.
At this point the shoes looked pretty unfinished. There was basically a grey haze over the original tan color. But the color was much milder and I regained hope that I can re-finish them properly.
5) Moving on, I made mix of Fiebing's grey dye, black dye, and a lot of dye reducer. Using a paint brush, I tested the mixture on the back of the shoes and saw that I was getting thin coats, like the pictures Ron posted. And with some brush strokes, I was able to blend in the dye to get different gradients of color on the shoe. I must be getting somewhere.
After an hour and a half of stripping down last night's work, and almost finishing one shoe. I took a two pictures here:
As you can see, the toe is not completed on either shoe, but the one with the new dye is starting to look more finished. This is definitely taking longer than expected.
For the next 2-3 hours, this is what I did:
6) I finished painting both shoes with the diluted dye mixture (making the toes and heels darker).
7) I conditioned the shoes with Lexol (and noticed that some of the dye rubbed off)
8) I polished the shoes with a Ecru colored shoe creme that to me looked like somewhere between the original color and grey (a transition of sorts). Again I noticed that some of the dye rubbed off)
9) I polished the toes, heels and near the welt with black wax polish.
Since some of the dye rubbed off, I had to apply more. I know that Ron does 6 or more coats per shoe, but these were pretty dark already and I've been breathing in fumes all day from the chemicals so I didn't want to work on them that much longer. With that being said, I proceeded to
10) Apply diluted dye to the areas I wanted darker, by this time I gave up on the grey dye and just used black with lots of reducer.
11) Polish with black wax polish.
At this point I figured that I was pretty much done. I had been working on these for 4 hours and I think they look good, but it is dark in my apartment in the city so I can't really tell. I must also mention that everytime I applied the diluted dye mixture, it helped blend in any obvious streaks from my first blotched dye job. So by the time I was finished with the second dye application. They didn't look like they were caked in dye at all.
Sunday morning (4/12/09): Nice bright light coming in the windows. The shoes look better than I expected.
Here are a few pictures: