Leather And Vinyl Tutorial?
An Airbrushing Novelette

Airbrushing vegetable cured hand tooled leather. If you are into handtooling leather crafts there is only one place to go. Tandy Leather! Tandy carries Fiebings dyes for coloring and antiqueing hand tooled leather and Cova Color acrylic paints for airbrushing your leather crafts. Tandy has the leather, stock and precut leather for bags, wallets, purses, Saddle Bags, Sheaths, Whips, Bondage Strappings and Dominatrix Evening Wear From Crafter's Patterns and "How To" Booklets, to Bandanas, Bangles, Beads and Conchos... Tandy Leather for your leather projects!
Don't I type like a real catalogue Goddess?

There was a Tandy Outlet at one of the malls bordering boring Grand Prairie many many moons ago. It was a great store to browse through. The mall died an unhappy unpopular death after 20 years and Tandy hung in there until...I finally needed them!

Return With Me To The Days Of Yesteryear...

I painted my first leather motorcycle jacket in September of '92.
harp music please!

I had been running an airbrush booth singlehandedly in H.L. Greene's, a big busy 5 & dime store crammed full of lawyers during lunch hours, at the corner of Main and Elm in downtown Dallas since that past June. I had been airbrushing professionally (loose term for getting paid buckaroos, dinero, anything green with a presiden't face on it) for a year and a half but before Dallas... the airbrushing out of the family florist was on the scant side and mainly confined to tees and sweats for the family and a few gullible customers who occasionally would buy a tee or a banner or have me paint mustangs on their bras and credit board mirrors.... whatever happened to come my way.
I had painted my first car with a chevy bow tie on the trunk and "Camaro" on the fenders and my first murals on the nose of a semi with a lot of help and advice from my brother-in-law who I miss everytime I need him to basecoat and clear whom I can never locate and a few pints of PPG that we had to pick from the color chip books (how embarrassing!) to buy the mixed refinish formulas(scandelous!) for paint I needed My suggestion that I buy the as yet unknown name "toners" did not go over well with the fella selling the paint.
I was still a novice in my opinion. Months away from a wonderful customer informing me that there WAS LIFE ON MARS! and an obscure hard to find artsy magazine about airbrushing called Airbrush Action and another year+ from finding the Sherwin Williams Automotive Refinishes store and Ted who not only would sell me toners but give them to me along with cans of goofed colors, that no one wanted, to play with. (Free Steven! Free!)
There was only one airbrush artist around that I knew of and had talked to a few times but receiving only evasive or come to find out, prefabricated! answers, who had a booth at Trader's Village (huge flea market a mile away as the crow flies). No input into the mysteries of airbrushing and no satisfactory results to my repetitious questions.
He wouldn't spill anything about the airbrushing biz... until I met him "officially" then sort of unofficially dated? dinner no dancing, for 1 and 3/4th days until he tricked me into opening his booth one morning by telling me he was sick and would be coming to the booth where I had sat almost daily watching every move he made and listening for the priceless tidbits of wisdom that now poured from him the way his talent did... and was promptly stood up.

An ignorant naive blonde forced by conscience to airbrush in public!

It was still trial and error cause he never came back to run his booth! He left it in my shaky hands with an occasional visit to pick up the weekly earnings with his award winning smile plastered on his face. If there were questions... I was a telephone connection away to the one and only other airbrush artist I knew besides myself who might possibly be able to help in a crisis
that I had complete confidence in.

Enough descriptive background info to get the picture locked into your mind
and bring the past back to life once again in vivid technicolor!

I took an order from one of the tallest, most powerful looking men I had ever seen. Young and cute too, carrying his newly purchased and never worn Black Leather Motorcycle Jacket that he wanted me to airbrush a Longhorn Skull with the Texas Flag behind it with the words "Republic Of Texas" because He was Texan to the bone just like I am and proud of it! He left his new jacket in my
?capable? hands and walked out the door having
every bit of confidence in me.

I took my time and thought it out... How do you paint on leather? Can I use the Aqua Flow I use here or the Deka Fabric paints I had at home? Or what? I took an exploratory trip to Tandy and quietly perused a few of their leather crafting books. Tandy carried Paasche Vl Sets just like M**k and I both used and acrylic paints for airbrushing M**k said it was ok to use Aqua Flow Knowing I had to clean the area I would be painting on, I figured alcohol would be the best thing to use and I also thought that with that slick harder than fabric but softer than metal, absorbent steer hide... that the paint might need a bit of extra help to adhere better to the surface so I took after it with scotch-brite and a slow delicate hand until I thought I saw a dulling of the leather but not enough to scratch the heck out of it or raise nubbies and get me into trouble I cleaned the area with alcohol and a clean soft cloth, lowered the psi from 60 to 45 to 35 to 25, picked up the white and lost myself in a world of longhorn bone and the lone star

Ok, I'm finished with my cowskull and pooped after fighting the airbrush against puddles and weird shaped spiders with 14 broken legs, painting a base of white to cover the black, so I could turn it black again, working from light to dark colors, using straight edges of thick hard paper almost like mat board used in framing to make my edges on the flag, cutting out a star stencil and freehanding the cow skull from memory (clear sign that ima_t_exan) I am showing wear and tear in the right brain lobe and I am ready to go home and play with the kids!
I had talked to M**k and I was given the name of a clear finish to clear the artwork on the jacket M**k was the owner of the booth! who was supposed to know what he was doing! He had been airbrushing for years and years!
He told me Damar Varnish...
but that's a varnish for oil paintings on canvas?!?
Being the good little employee I went to Michaels and bought a spray can of Damar Varnish and hesitantly and against my instincts and common horse sense... sprayed it on my first airbrushed painting on a 6'7" mountain of a man's biker jacket that you could stuff three of me into that I had worked so hard on to do right...
and it didn't!!!!
wouldn't dry!!!!!
oils can take up to nine months or more to "dry out" and cure completely They don't "dry" like other mediums! other types of paints do! Oooohhh Noooo! Oils have to be made from SEEDS! And and EXTRACT OF PINE TREE! mash some peanuts in it and you could have a great big colorful peanut butter, pine nut and linseed sandwich on toasted bark with some titanium, carbon, cadmium, zinc plus other great heavy metals to organically supplement your daily requirements of minerals not supplied with a normal diet, Did you know that! I did! The varnish for oils would have close to the same properties, wouldn't they? You bet you're bootie they can!
I knew better
but I did what I was told
and ruined my airbrushing on the jacket.

Stressed to the max for days, I had to get the stuff off! What solvent I got it off with, I can't remember now but I believe I ended up using Lacquer Thinner to take off the varnish. It stripped off the varnish alright and the Aqua Flow right off along with it leaving one big splotch with smaller yukier blotches of varying shades of dark mud grey, slime pink, mississippi light blue and vomit white. It was awful. I considered myself lucky that the solvent didn't take off flakey pieces of leather too.
To repair the paint job, I had to scotch-brite it again and clean it again with alcohol, denatured, then repaint the back of the jacket black to cover the splotches, repaint the white base over the black to put my colors onto so they would be nice, bright and shiny, then working through lights to dark, using the straight edge for the flag, and recutting a star stencil cause the first one stuck to a circle and didn't want to leave it, freehanding the longhorn skull and finishing turning the ugly black splotchy leather covered with black, covered with a base of white and 16 millions colors in between... I finished off with painting the base white back to black where it was needed...now I'm more than right brain lobe disabled and ready to go home and play with the kids!
And to make a trip back to Tandy out at the Forum 303 Mall
because they know what to use on leather!
Smiling invisible male airbrush artists don't have a clue!
Not knowing what to clear the second version of my first airbrushed art on my first leather biker jacket, I went back to the store, grabbed a guy with a name tag, laid my sob story at his feet who then stuck a blue labled spray can of clear in my hand, said for me to use this and off I merrily went.
I cleared the jacket, the guy picked it up and was happy as a lark.

He found me again three years later.
He was wearing the same jacket
and bearing the surprising news that he was madly in love with me
and had been since he gave me the jacket to paint
which looked exactly the same as when I airbrushed it three years earlier!
The fantasy of dating a cute younger 6'7" guy was exciting... almost
as exciting as the reality of the wearability of the clear finish I used on his jacket.

The End

Aren't you so glad?!?!?!

Click the image above to go see the Republic Of Texas And Other Leather

What clear finish I was given to buy at Tandy? that I have used over the years is Super Shene. A lacquer based clear finish that Tandy has in aerosol form for clearing their leather crafts. Tandy has a disclaimer that says it is not manufactured as a product that will clear leather apparel and is only for use on their leather crafts. But they have to cover themselves in case of lawsuits because of ignoramuses like me who followed instructions and cleared a leather jacket with Damar Varnish but I have better ethics than most people who would then decide not to take the responsibility for it and blame Tandy Leather, The Humongoloid Conglomerate, builder of the twin towers of Tandy Center 26 miles away in Fort Worth who can afford to replace new leather biker jackets for angry 6'7" men even though they have nothing to do with Damar Varnish, the jacket manufacturer, the airbrush company or the doctor who delivered the poor ignaramus.
Tandy also has a water based clear finish in bottles to use with a brush, swab, sponge ,rag, pump spray or an airbrush that I have never tried therefore cannot say if it's good as the one I can say is good or good with the items I know the one I can say is good will do good on.
Good old Createx, Aqua Flow and Super Shene lacquer based clear finish for the airbrushed masterpieces of art on leather jackets, chaps, bags, T-back bikinis and shoes. Tandy's Super Shene has one draw back that is to be expected of any product is the cracking that occurs in the leather itself at those pesky moveable bone joints... and shoes... get some nice four dollar canvas tennies at Walmart and paint a pair to match every ensemble in your wardrobe... like I did! Leather shoe art don't last like the shoes don't last because of mud puddles, hot tarred roads under the Texas summer sun, teaching your toddler how to dance by placing their teeny shoes on your big ones and the cracking at the toes and balls of the feet due to the natural motion of walking. Now if you crawl to avoid cracking up the shoe... you have to remember to keep those feet up high and don't scrape your toes on the floor!

You can find Tandy Leather Online at

Super Shene not only works on leather but is good for vinyl too

Here are more links to Leather related websites and pages that will help to guide the unwary along the path they could/should/may/might/shall consider to trod.
Tandy Leather Clears

Another Tandy Leather

Fiebing Leather Products

Leather Tanning And Finishing Suppliers
Search For Tanners And Suppliers In Your Location

Loonfeather Leather

Metro Parts Market Original Auto Paint And Vinyl Dye

Rifle stock refinishing with leather dye? I dunno you'd better go look!
Swamp Works Swampy Stuff Fiebings Dye

Gliptone Dye And Paint

A refinishing tutorial
Alan.net Moroy
A homemade gadget for mixing paint.
Alan.net Bill West's Lacquer Mixer
a boom for airhoses
Alan.net Hose Boom

Color Plus Products

A searchable website for registered Leather companies around the world.
Leather.com Australia

Leather Directory

Leather Unlimited

WWW.DYO.com Leather

Learn something about dyes and pigments and leather to increase your brain power! Astound your family! friends! biker buddies!
Period Leather
Identification, Leather Types And Tanning Tutorial

Organic Dye Leather Dyes
Organic Dye Pigments

Foxcreek Leather

Barney's Leather

Good Sites to take the time to see:
Leather Apparel

Aftermarket Leather and Vinyl Interior and Exterior Supplies for Autos and Furniture
Keystone Bros.

Here is the most promising resource for a product manufactured for automotive and furniture refinishing and repair that also can be used for garmentry that I would be overjoyed to try airbrushing with is Leather World Technologies Dye Colorants. The site has information, color charts, and a glossary for identification, repair, refinishing, and conditioning of leather and vinyl
Leather World Tech.com
Leather World Tech.com Leather Dyeing

Oh Denise Shoobee Doo

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