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Leather Alchemy

MotionDesign

One of the Regulars
Messages
137
Leather alchemy is an enchanting and unconventional tradition that focuses on restoring leather jackets to their original splendor, rejuvenating aged or unappealing leather through distinctive methods. This craft delves into the mystique of vintage leather, not merely as a material restoration but as a journey toward a unique and individualistic bond between the perfect leather jacket and its owner. Here's a breakdown of the main aspects of the pursuit of leather alchemy:

1. Transmutation of Leather: The core objective of leather alchemy is the transformation of leather into vibrant, supple material. Practitioners believe that through various treatments and processes, they can alter the very essence of the leather, not only restoring its physical appearance but also infusing it with new life and character.

2. Elixir of Restoration: Leather alchemists seek their own version of the "philosopher's stone," a legendary concoction or treatment believed to revitalize and renew leather, granting it a second life. This pursuit symbolizes a desire not just for the jacket's physical renewal but for an emotional and spiritual rejuvenation of the item and its wearer.

3. Spiritual and Mystical Connections: This craft transcends mere physical repair, venturing into the realm of personal and mystical connections. The process of rejuvenating a leather jacket is seen as a parallel to personal growth and transformation, where each jacket's journey mirrors an inner narrative of renewal and rediscovery.

4. Symbolism and Narrative: In leather alchemy, every patch, stitch, and crease tells a story, imbued with symbolism and personal significance. The transformation process is laden with allegory, reflecting the wearer's experiences, memories, and aspirations, making each jacket a living, evolving testament to its history and relationship with its owner.

5. Experimental Practices: Leather alchemy is grounded in hands-on experimentation, where alchemists employ a mix of traditional and innovative techniques to treat, repair, and enhance leather. This may involve unique blends of conditioners, unconventional repair methods, and personalized embellishments, all aimed at honoring the jacket's legacy while ushering in a new era of style and function.
 

MotionDesign

One of the Regulars
Messages
137
I recently acquired an old Als leather jacket which was quite heavy at around 9 pounds. The leather was high-quality but appeared to have been overconditioned over the years, likely due to the misapplication of various leather lotions, conditioners, and waxes. The jacket was laden with dirt, both in the lining and the leather itself. The main issue was the cracked leather collar, presumably caused by sweat, which led to the leather drying. Despite these issues, the jacket looked and fit wonderfully.

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Here's a brief overview of the restoration process:

1. Washing and Drying: The jacket was washed in cool water with Woolite. It was soaked and agitated for about 2 hours until the water turned chocolate brown. After two rinses with clear water, it was slow-dried on a rack for 12 hours, followed by 24 hours on a padded hanger.

2. Initial Conditioning: A layer of Obenauf’s Leather Preserve was applied using an applicator brush. After roughly 5 minutes, it was wiped off with a cotton cloth.

3. Collar Treatment: The collar was degreased with alcohol. Angelus Repair Filler was then applied with a palette knife, a process repeated several times to build up a proper surface since the filler shrinks upon drying. It was then lightly sanded with 400 and 800 grit sandpaper.

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4. Restoring Collar Top Coat: A few layers of Saphir Renovating Cream were applied to restore the collar's original color, followed by light buffing with a horsehair brush.

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The final result was a significantly improved and revitalized jacket, ready to be worn and enjoyed once again.
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Messages
17,222
Location
Chicago
This is the absolute best crack repair I’ve seen! Outstanding job. I’m curious how the anglus holds up. I’ve had problems with their stuff peeling like sun burnt skin. Do keep us posted as this looks absolutely phenomenal!
 

MotionDesign

One of the Regulars
Messages
137
Thank you, gentlemen. I'll update you on how it performs on the collar.

In the past, I used Angelus filler on a 1990s Al's CHP jacket I acquired from a retired CHP sergeant. It appeared that the equipment from his duty belt had rubbed against the leather, causing scrapes, gouges, and nearly creating a hole. The repair process involved applying several layers of the filler over a few days. When the leather was bent, the filler initially showed slight cracking. However, after applying more filler, allowing it to dry, and repeatedly bending the leather until no more cracking occurred, I finished it off with a black renovating cream. Six months later, it's still in good shape. If you know of a better filler, I'd appreciate your recommendations.


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Will Zach

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,490
Location
SoFlo
Excellent work. I guess your first post was no hyperbole, lol. I hope Angelus holds. Is it based on rubber cement + filler, do you know? Rubber cement is very tough and flexible when dry. Not sure it can be sanded, although it might when filled.
 

MotionDesign

One of the Regulars
Messages
137
Excellent work. I guess your first post was no hyperbole, lol. I hope Angelus holds. Is it based on rubber cement + filler, do you know? Rubber cement is very tough and flexible when dry. Not sure it can be sanded, although it might when filled.
I didn't know that, thank you for the info. My 1st impression was that it may be a water based silicone filler since it has little to no odor and washes easily with water.
Sanding it could be a challenge since filler remains flexible after drying. But 200 or 400 grit paper, when lightly applied, seems to do the job.
 

MotionDesign

One of the Regulars
Messages
137
Amazing job! o_O The hole/break in the collar has disappeared!

I was just going to write in "Ask a question, get an answer" thread 'cause one of my Cal has a very scrapped area on the collar. You gave hope to this jacket!
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This should be fixable with fillers and renovating cream. You may need to put few layers of the filler over time before it holds. And it helps if the leather is well de-greased before doing any work. Good Luck.
 

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