Is there any hope for my drab, almost-perfect journal?
January 31, 2009 9:28 PM   Subscribe

Is there any chance I could change the color of a leather journal - whether slightly or significantly - without removing the non-leather portions (thus destroying the journal)? Or am I stuck with it how it is?

I bought a beautiful leatherbound journal when I was leaving Rome last summer. I'd looked the whole trip for something of just this type and found nothing until I was literally about to get on the train to the airport. There was a stationer's in the station, and there was my journal, a slightly pricey but affordable 50 Euro option. I grabbed it and got on the train. Trouble is, the colors they had available were atrocious - pink, pink & green, or this light taupe, which is what I went with. Other than the color, it's perfect, but the color really bothers me. I can't exchange it - I've checked for the manufacturer online but to no avail. And the journal is glued to the leather, so I can't remove the paper to do any significant work to it.

Is there anything I can do to alter the color? Otherwise, all I can think of is plastering it with stickers, like I did in fifth grade with my trapper keeper, or learning to love it as is.
posted by AthenaPolias to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
You could try something like this, but it sounds like it might be a bit of work. There are also kits.
posted by Bigfoot Mandala at 9:36 PM on January 31, 2009

You can paint leather with acrylics, but it is a bit labor intensive. When I did it I was using stuff provided for me in a class, but a quick googlin' leads me to this page which is pretty much what I did.

You'll have to mask off the paper to keep it unpainted. I suggest wrapping it in butcher paper or similar and masking off all the edges carefully.

It really depends on the leather, though. If it's been heavily treated or coated in some way, the paint job will look and feel awful.

For a less permanent option, you could try finding some lovely paper that you enjoy and covering the journal in a careful version of the "paper bag text book cover" way. Be sure to fold all your edges under, and use acid-free mounting tape.

But really, what is wrong with taupe?
posted by Mizu at 9:57 PM on January 31, 2009

I don't see why you shouldn't be able to color it with any of several different kinds of stains or dyes. I'm sure you can change the color. The question is whether you can achieve a color you like.

Something like a wood stain would work, I'd bet. (But it would be better to practice on other leather first, just to be sure.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:41 PM on January 31, 2009

You can buy leather dye but it tends to rub off on everything for a long time.
posted by fshgrl at 10:52 PM on January 31, 2009

What about shoe dye? You should be able to pick up a bottle of Kiwi in brown or black at your local megamart.

Or you could mail order one of these dye kits, which come in a lot more colors.
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 10:59 PM on January 31, 2009

You could darken it slightly, (and gradually darker, with repeated applications) by applying Mink Oil w/ a rag, rubbing it into the leather in a circular motion. You wouldn't have concerns of a dye possibly rubbing off. It would deepen the current color making it richer looking...couldn't look bad, in my opinion, since you already are stuck w/ a color that doesn't appeal to you...Mink Oil is a soft solid and available in shoe repair stores or where shoe polish is sold. It has the added benefit of conditioning and water-proofing, and making the surface stain-resistant. Don't know if this would give you the degree or sort of change you're looking for, though.
posted by mumstheword at 12:22 AM on February 1, 2009

If it's real leather, there are lots of different dyes that you can use. Double check the shoe-dying kits. Some of them dry into a hard veneer and will flake off something like a soft journal cover. You'll want something water-insoluble which will soak into the leather.

Your profile doesn't say where you are, but perhaps check the yellow pages for shoe repair places that also advertise leather work or luggage repair or whatnot (don't bother with any place that doesn't do the work on-premise). The good ones should have all kinds of different dyes for different leathers on hand (for actually dying leather and for touching up minor scuffs) and will know which dyes won't rub off (yuck).
posted by porpoise at 1:51 PM on February 1, 2009

I changed some white patches on leather boots to turquoise successfully by just colouring them in with a letraset permanent marker. The colour wasn't totally even, but it looked neat anyway, and didn't come off even when my boyfriend's apartment flooded and I went over to bail it out. If you might be bothered by uneven colour, get 2 or 3 markers in really similar shades, and apply the colour in a pattern.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:50 PM on February 1, 2009

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