Those look fantastic @FaRKle!!! Super shelleous. Wish I could find a good fit in the Cornwallis.
That is the coolest thing I've seen on here in a while. Very nice job!
I do a little leather working for fun on the side (not my day job). Wallets and belts and that sort of thing. That said, I know there are people much more knowledgeable than myself on here so feel free to correct or offer suggestions, but here's my method:
1) Get the shoes you're going to be dyeing, remove the shoe laces and give them a good cleaning. Specifically, yoll need to get rid of all the build-up polishes, waxes, and as much of the previous dye as possible. I use acetone. It's a harsh chemical and will dry out the leather, but we'll re-condition it later on in the process. It's very very important to get as much of the wax, polish, and previous dye off of the shoe as possible so the new dye can soak into the leather properly, and evenly.
2) Figure out what color and brand of dye you're going to use. I use Fiebing's - they have a Professional line and a standard line. I've used both, and like them both. They have more color options in their standard line. If you have a Tandy Leather store in your vicinity, you can browse all the leather dyes and see samples of what they look like on a finished product.
3) Tape off any parts of the shoe that you don't want dyed (sole edges, heels maybe, especially if you're messy). This Fibbing's dye is strong stuff. Put on latex gloves (the dye will leave stains on your hands for days).
4) Dye the shoes. Using either a dauber (which usually comes with the box of Fiebing's), or a rag, begin applying the dye. Use circular motions and push it deep into the leather. After applying the dye all over, let it dry for a little bit (ten minutes?) and then use a clean rag and wipe the shoe vigorously. This will blend in the color somewhat, and bring out a bit of a sheen. At this point, add another layer of dye if you want to, or if you need to in order to even out the coloring. Generally additional applications of dye will lead to a darker and more uniform color. You can achieve some cool low lights and highlights by going heavier in some spots (like Lobb's museum calf).
5) Condition / Polish / Wax. You'll want a good conditioner to put moisture back in the shoes, because between the acetone (or other stripping solution) and the dye, they'll need it. I use something like a Carnauba cream, Saphir Reno, then applications of cream polish. The combination of these multiple applications will also help to even out and redistribute the dye on the shoes and smooth out the color just a bit. Then I finish with a coat or two of saphir colored and clear wax.
Great post! Have you ever done this whole process on shell cordovan? Or even just used the dye to darken the existing color on shells? Also have you ever used Saphir Teinture Francaise dye and if so how does it compare to the Fiebing's?
I think you're right. When I first opened them I thought they a bit off for brown, almost like color 8. Then I compared them next to my brown shell strands, burgundy shell daltons, and Alden color 8 LWB. It's kind of in between the brown shell strands and burgundy dalton.
I'm about to do the same thing with my Walnut Daltons. I guess I need to suck it up and wipe mine down with some mineral spirit/acetone next weekend. Good job!