Removing "art" from leather jackets

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by Baron Kurtz, Apr 25, 2014.

  1. Only too often I find old leather jackets that are in decent condition and fit me, but have been ruined by having had godawful "art" work painted onto them, typically very large designs on the back, but surprisingly often very bad renderings of USAAF insignia very obviously done very recently.

    What's the best product to remove this garbage from a leather jacket? I will flake some paint off next time I find one, i think, and try various solvents to see which one will work best. Obviously this will also need to be spot tested on the leather itself to ensure there's no damage done when I do the full removal.

    I'm particularly keen to hear from people who've done this themselves and can suggest solutions that are known to work.

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions guys,

    bk
     
  2. ykurtz

    ykurtz One of the Regulars

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    Location:
    Idaho Falls, ID
    Olive oil may work. However, if you use it, you need to condition the entire jacket afterwards, since you're effectively moisturizing a part of the jacket and the other parts of the jacket will dry out faster by comparison. However, it all depends on the jacket's finishing....YMMV
     
  3. nightandthecity

    nightandthecity Practically Family

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    I usually use acetone. Over the years I have successfully cleaned up paint splashes from numerous vintage leather jackets that have been used for DIY and even cleaned the Thunderbird design off the back of one of those LVC/Aero 1930s bike jackets. It seems to work well on the various paints with minimal effect on the leather dye....usually a bit of pecard or similar over the cleaned area sorts out any patching - on occassion I've had to rub in a little boot polish first - but the jacket has always looked better in the end. You can see the end result on the LVC jacket here http://www.thefedoralounge.com/show...LEVI-LVC-2002-horsehide-quot-Thunderbird-quot
     
  4. rocketeer

    rocketeer Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,612
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    Accetone is great removing just about any kind of paint, but when removing the USAAF decal from the windflap of a jacket a small amount of the colour came with it. beware!
     
  5. Thanks for the replies, guys.

    natc, do you have a before pic of the LVC jacket? I have to remove a very large probably 70s "artwork" from a 40s sheep hide jacket.

     
  6. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    Messages:
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    Location:
    London, UK
    I'd be interested in seeing that too: I've passed over a couple of those on ebay because of that artwork.
     
  7. It's a nice jacket, but a cheapie, so I will have at it with the acetone once I've sourced some.
     
  8. Otter

    Otter One Too Many

    Most chandlers will have it, common solvent used in cleaning grp for repairs and as a thinner in some paints and antifouling. Watch your fingers, it will strip all the oils out your skin.
     
  9. Tomasso

    Tomasso Incurably Addicted

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    :pop2:
     
  10. Thanks. Nail polish remover is probably easier to find than a Chandler's shop;), though I do know where to find on in central London.

    Never fear, I am fully used to working with isopropanol.

     
  11. tonypaj

    tonypaj Practically Family

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    Divonne les Bains, France
    I assume there's a hardware store in London somewhere... Acetone is nasty stuff, chances are you will take more than the art off the jacket with it. Good luck.
     
  12. Smithy

    Smithy I'll Lock Up

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    5,137
    Location:
    Norway
    I agree with this BK. Acetone is a very "hot" solvent. I use paint and solvents quite a bit and my first choice wouldn't be to use acetone as a first port of call.

    The problem is probably that most of this jacket art that you are trying to remove is oil based paint and you're probably better off using an enamel or oil thinner, even methylated spirits. These are still fairly strong but not to the same degree as acetone or lacquer thinners.

    I'd use an enamel thinner (easily bought from a modelling shop), and wouldn't overly rub the area that you are applying it to. I'd then be quick to wash the area with clean water and let dry before applying a leather conditioner like Pecards or RM Williams Saddle and Leather Dressing.
     
  13. nightandthecity

    nightandthecity Practically Family

    Messages:
    902
    Location:
    1938
    DSCN7858.JPG 3.JPG here you go Baron.

    In the 1980s and 90s I dealt heavily in vintage leather jackets, especially WW2 flight jackets, and have had hundreds through my hands. I couldn't say how many I've cleaned paint off, but its a lot - though usually splashes and smears rather than full artwork (you'd be surprised how many A2s seem to have been used for DIY postwar!). I've tried every solvent going and none is ideal, but I found acetone the best compromise. Ultimately you have to find the best balance between effective paint removal and sparing the leather and finish. I've never known acetone damage the leather, though it will often smear the finish a bit - however, if this is at all noticeable a bit of pecard - and perhaps boot polish first - soon sorts it out.
     
  14. EmergencyIan

    EmergencyIan Practically Family

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    Talk about great results! To me, that's impressive.

    - Ian
     
  15. Stand By

    Stand By One Too Many

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    Location:
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    Some years ago, I bought a B-6 from ELC in their dark bitter chocolate colour - and I opted for the AAF decal on the left sleeve - which, when it showed up, I wasn't a fan of and I began to wish I'd left it off - so it left me with this same dilemma.
    So rather than use some acetone (which is very harsh and will remove ALL the staining in the finish along with the art - it doesn't discriminate!), I chose to paint over the entire decal using acrylics - I used black first to act as a primer and to obliterate the design so it wouldn't be apparent at all any longer, and then when that was dry, I mixed some black with dark umber and a hint of raw sienna - and mottled it on lightly in varying degrees and blended it in to the rest of the colour.
    Then I used a blend of matt and satin varnishes to restore the semi-gloss sheen that the jacket had overall.
    And throughout, I used Tension Breaker (10% to 90% water) to act as a medium to dilute the acrylics to help them bond to the jacket and increase flexibility (so it won't crack or flake).
    And it worked an absolute treat. If you didn't know the decal had been there at all, you'd never know - only under certain lights and angles did that little area have a slightly different sheen ... which was absolutely acceptable to me.
    It's a challenge to do, but I enjoyed it and it totally worked.
     
  16. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    Messages:
    21,371
    Location:
    London, UK
    We had an old GPO Telephones (Pre-BT) briefcase in the house thirty years ago. It had a gold logo on it, which my dad removed with nail varnish remover, as memory serves. I've used white spirit before, but only on spashes of paint on textiles (denim mainly).
     
  17. Stand By

    Stand By One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,737
    Location:
    Canada
    And of course, thinking about this further, you could do what I mentioned above - and then paint on a better nose/jacket art design of your choice to replace the old one - and that would further detract from any slight imperfections that may be a leftover tell-tale sign that there there was a design there in the first place ...

    Oh, and Edward: nail varnish is acetone. It's pungent stuff - it always amazes me as I pass ladies' nail salons and you see ladies getting their nails done and the cosmeticians all sit there with paper masks on - as if that'll do anything ! But then, wearing a rubber mask with proper cartridge filters wouldn't be good for business I suppose ...!
     
  18. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    Messages:
    21,371
    Location:
    London, UK
    I assumed there was acetone in it as an active ingredient, but tht it might have been cosmetically joozhied up somehow. I've always liked the smell of it myself, though I rarely use it. Mostly I only do my toes, and just leave it there til it wears off.
     
  19. Stand By

    Stand By One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,737
    Location:
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    Ha!Ha! :)
     
  20. morrison2951

    morrison2951 A-List Customer

    Messages:
    343
    Location:
    F-V, NC
    I see some very good results here- bravo!
     

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