Leather Embossing More Coloring Result final

Ursula's Digital Mixed-Media
Leather Embossing More Coloring Ideas with Mixed Media Products

Hello all! Welcome back to more embossing on leather! Earlier I did a video/blog post on coloring leather with Stazon pigment ink pads. Today I am playing around with some waxes- specifically Sizzix luster wax and the Finnabair/Art Alchemy metallic wax and some work with Distress Foundry wax, Distress Paint and some Golden Acrylic Top coats as well as some made for leather products. I decided to sacrifice a piece that I made and colored with the Stazon Ink pads.
I was actually going to stain the leather as well, and I did in the end, but initially I decided to just play with the waxes. This is a super long video as I try different things and I decided to keep it all in for a few reasons. 1) so you can see my process and how I get myself (sometime, haha) out of jams, and 2) so you can get a sense of the products and how easy or hard they are to work with- especially for alternative uses like working here with Leather. If you want to skip to the end, I do try to do a final wrap up of what worked for me and what didn’t and how I will use the knowledge I gained during these experiments going forward.

If you are new to this set of experiments with Leather, you might want to check out some of my other videos like the first one in the series here, or just search for leather in the Blog Search.

The reason why I’m doing these experiments is I really couldn’t find any information on these wax products and how well they hold up for something like this- working with an alternative substrate. They’d be fine for cards or other paper based mixed media, but leather? So this is my experiment on figuring out for myself.

My original plan was to test two waxes- the Sizzix Luster Wax and the Finnabair/Art Alchemy metallic wax- on my leather. I do have other waxes, like Gilder’s Wax but decided not to try those. Mine are dried out and would require a couple of days to try to get them back in working order. If you have other waxes, you can give this experiment a try if you like. My experiment eventually morphs and includes a myriad of other products, either because I decided to add them in (Distress Foundry wax), or because I wanted to try a different product because I wasn’t happy with the result of the original test (original- Distress Foundry Wax, Final- Distress Paint), or because I decided to test some coatings to try to protect the waxes so add some longevity.

In this experiment, at the start, I use a gloved finger ( I’m trying to be better about using gloves!) and I just rub the waxes across the top of the embossed design. This design will show up in another video where I use an etched plate that I made myself.

The Sizzix luster wax gives pretty good coverage. I did get some on the background which I then experiment with alcohol for cleaning it up. I do the same with the Art Alchemy wax. That did not have as good coverage as the Sizzix luster wax. As a third attempt I decided to try Distress Foundry Wax from Tim Holtz. This needs to be shaken first and then I spread some on my non-stick craft sheet. I probably should have waited a few seconds because it will dry a little bit, but I patted it on right away and I did get a lot on the background. The foundry wax must be heat set and then it’s permanent. I had a lot of cleanup to do on the foundry wax as well as the Art Alchemy wax and a little on the Sizzix luster wax.

First I tried to paint some alcohol on a brush and then tried to see if coming over with a dry Q-tip would remove the wax and it didn’t. I then applied the alcohol directly with the Q-Tip and that looked like it worked better. The tricky part though, is that the Q-Tip doesn’t give you as much control to get into tight spots as you might have with a brush. After the cleanup, you can still see some of the shimmer in the areas that I missed and I feel like the Sizzix luster wax looks the best. Second best probably would be the Finnabair wax, but I had to do several coats of it, so that would not encourage me to use it in the future. I wiped all the Distress Foundry Wax off and decided to switch to the silver just to kind of have the three different colors. However, I found the foundry wax to be very hard to work with, especially with these very shallow impressions. If these were a little bit deeper, I probably would have had an easier time of it, but it just seemed to get way more on the background and then trying to clean out of those inner areas was just super hard.

I also switched to a tiny Q-Tip-like applicator that I got on Amazon. They come in at least a couple of different sizes, maybe three. Amazon doesn’t have the ones I am using but if you search for Micro Brush Swab Applicators you should be able to find something comparable. They look like this:

Micro Brush Swab Applicators
Micro Brush Swab Applicators


The next step was to heat set the foundry wax. I used a heat tool and then switched to an embossing gun in order to heat set the foundry wax.
In the end I think I didn’t have as thick a coat of foundry wax as I should have had on the embossed parts and then I had too much underneath it. And so the design did not stand out as much as I would have liked. So personally, going forward, especially on shallow impressions, I would not use the foundry wax.

I also wanted to try and dry the leather after cleaning with the alcohol to see if the discoloration that was left on the leather was permanent or just wet. After heating the leather it did look like perhaps the rubbing with alcohol had discolored the leather a little bit. It did, however, get rid of most of the glimmer from the metallic wax on the background, especially from the luster wax.

The other question I had with these waxes was, if I came in after it’s been sitting around for days, would these still wipe off with alcohol? And the answer is yes even after sitting around for a week, maybe week and a half. So, I decided one of the other trials I would perform would be to add some with Renaissance Wax on top of the other waxes, buff it in and let it sit and then see if the Renaissance will protect the waxes from being rubbed off.

Next step was to try to use leather stain and/or dye to try to camouflage the staining left by the alcohol cleanup. I decided going forward to not gold first so hopefully I will not run into as many issues with alcohol cleanup as I did here.

I thought about using Renaisaance wax as a protection on top of the colored waxes before staining the leather, so they wouldn’t get discolored, but in thinking though it I decided that it was probably not going to work because the Renaissance wax would also get onto the recesses/background and then any staining I did with leather stain or dye would not stick there. I went off camera and stained the whole piece of leather with Fiebings antique finish, made specifically for leather. It’s more or less like a gel and you have a little more workability time so you can put it on and wipe it off and you can get some of the finish to pool in the recessed areas.

I also have leather dye that goes on super quick, and super dark, but you don’t have as much leeway on removing it. So I first used the antique finish and that did discolor some of the work I had done with the waxes, which I was not surprised by. It did seem to camouflage the alcohol staining though.

Take away: I do think going forward I need to stain the leather first and then try to do the gilding.

But in this experiment I went back in with the liquid leather dye to color the leather a bit more and hide the alcohol staining a bit better. It seems to have a denser coverage and less of it wipes off, so it’s a quick cover up when needed 😉 . I first used a leather finish called Tan Kote to try to give me a little it more workability with the dye. When I wiped it on top of the antique finish, it did remove some of that and also wiped off more of the gilding. I used daubers that I bought for applying leather finished to wipe the dye onto the leather. I was able to move/remove the liquid dye a little bit better with the Tan Kote on there first. I believe this is more of a do it right away thing though if you decide to try this combination.

At this point I had fixed the discoloration, but now all my gilding was gone 🙁 , so I needed to reapply after the dye had dried. I decided to use tiny applicator to re-gild the leather with the Sizzix luster wax. I tried the tiny applicators also with the Art Alchemy by Finnabair metallic wax. Again with the shallower embossing it was hard to get the color on the raised part and not on the background. I really was having trouble with this wax because it is much lighter in coverage and so I would need multiple coats and I wasn’t sure it would be worth it. My ultimate conclusion was it wasn’t 🙂 .

I was trying to achieve a contrast between the background and the raised images, and I really wanted to pull in some metallic to add some shine, but other than the Sizzix luster wax I was not having much success. The Sizzix luster wax was still showing promise, but I felt it didn’t seem to have longevity. So at this point I was thinking these all may be epic fails and I may go back to using the Stazon pigment. Now the other thing is, Stazon does make a metallic a metallic ink pad so I could try that, but I have not done that as of today. Maybe a future episode in this ongoing experiment 😉 .

I decided to carry on though with the Sizzix luster wax in this experiment because I love the look of it. It’s super shiny, it’s super easy to use even though it was a little trickier in this case. So I decided to see if there was something I could use on top of it to make it hold up and be a bit more permanent so the gilding wouldn’t be disturbed by wear/rubbing/water. It seemed to rub off a little bit on your finger, even after days of sitting around. And when I came back over it with alcohol, I was able to still wipe the whole thing off.

I tried Renaissance wax and that wiped the luster wax right off too. So that was a no go. Bummer.

I also tried some MicroGlaze over the luster wax and that did not remove the Sizzix wax. It gave a kind of a cool luster to just the leather itself too. So I loved the look of that. However, even after sitting for a couple of days, the Sizzix Luster wax was still able to be rubbed off/moved around. It took more effort, but still not ideal.

I decided to test out Distress paint over the Art Alchemy wax after I wiped it off with alcohol, and it dried like paint does and is then water resistant. The paint dried well and I forgot to mention that it doesn’t dry as hard as some acrylic paints do. So it’s a much better choice for leather and hopefully there will be no cracking.

This experiment, for me, was to try to color leather with mixed media products that I have kicking around from other crafts. True leather artists, like those that do tooling, won’t be using this stuff, right? So this is more for those of us who are kind of dipping our toe in. I certainly am never going to have the time to become a great artist at tooling leather. And so we can play around with putting some imprints in leather and then coloring them with stuff we have kicking around.

Where I finally ended up (and this again is a loooooooong video where you can watch my entire process!) was back to the Sizzix luster wax (although the Distress paint would also be a good choice). I had a piece that I had embossed and accented with the Sizzix luster wax and I loved the way that came out, so I really wanted to protect it. And so in the final test I used a gloss varnish. I chose one by Golden that was a water based acrylic varnish. I assumed, and my trial bore it bore out, that it wouldn’t disturb the wax underneath at least not significantly. I would caution you to pat on the finish rather than rub in order to try not to disturb the underlying coloring agent, in this case the waxes. Golden also makes a matte version, so it’s kind of up to you what you wanted, whether you want the mat or the gloss finish. The gloss finish may not be a true leather look, but that didn’t bother me.

In the end, I did end up showing a piece I had coated with the matte varnish. This piece was colored with the Stazon pigment ink.

I also tried an actual leather coating on another leather piece gilded with the Sizzix luster wax. There are a couple of different leather coatings you can use- Tan Kote will also protect the leather, but it wasn’t water resistant. And so I was really kind of looking for something that if you sweat, or if you get caught in a rainstorm,  there is a possibility that the leather would hold up. I went with the version that adds a more water resistant protective coating, called Resolene. It’s acrylic, so it’s probably pretty similar to the Golden finishes, but this is made specifically for leather. I just used one of the leather application daubers and applied the finish and it gives a very similar look, maybe a little less glossy, than the Golden Gloss varnish. It’s definitely glossier than the matte. So if you want to invest in leather coatings, I would go with the Resolene for it’s water resistance. Otherwise you can just reach for your acrylic varnishes and play around with those.

NOTE: Even though I am trying to achieve water resistance in this experiment, leather jewelry should not be worn in water anyway.

With the final coatings I used- the Golden acrylic varnishes, and the Resolene- the Sizzix wax now does not transfer, and  it does not smudge. So the Golden products and the Resolene are great options to apply as a protectant if I do really want to use that Sizzix luster wax, which I love, even on these shallow imprints.
I can use these coatings on top and feel a little more confident that these pieces, when they’re worn, will not get trashed.

So I know this was a super long video and post. Thanks for hanging in there with me and I hope you learned something. If you have this stuff kicking around and you want to dip your toe in leather, hopefully this helps.

Here are some of the final results:

Glossy vs Matte Coating on Embossed Leather final
Glossy vs Matte Coating on Embossed Leather final


Leather Embossing More Coloring Result Sizzix Luster Wax final
Leather Embossing More Coloring Result Sizzix Luster Wax final


Leather Embossing More Coloring Result Resolene over Sizzix Luster Wax final
Leather Embossing More Coloring Result Resolene over Sizzix Luster Wax final


Leather Embossing More Coloring Result Gloss Varnish Over Sizzix Luster Wax final
Leather Embossing More Coloring Result Gloss Varnish Over Sizzix Luster Wax final


Leather Embossing More Coloring Result Distress Paint final
Leather Embossing More Coloring Result Distress Paint final

And here is the (long,long) video. Enjoy!

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