"The best colour in the whole world is the one that looks good on you." — Coco Chanel
These two Briarwood leather handbags were sent to me from Taupo with the request that I recolour them to match specific colours in the supplied fabric swatches. As you can see from the rose-petal design on the front of each bag, this was not a straightforward job. One of the bags had small metal studs which I was happy to mask off, but my client said not to worry about them. She was thrilled with the results shown below.
This job illustrates why leather restoration is often more an art than it is a trade. This handbag was badly faded and decorated with handpainted flowers. I was asked to restore the original colour of the bag but to leave the artwork untouched. As masking off the decoration was out of the question, I resorted to applying the pigments around the artwork using an artist's brush, which requires patience, an eye for detail, and a very steady hand. It probably helps that this type of skill runs in the family—my father was a signwriter, as are my brother and sister. Once the colour was applied, it was finished off with a clear coat and ready for its owner, who was delighted!
"I do love a good handbag… I think no one should make fun of anyone else’s handbag choices." — Hillary Clinton
It seems that a month doesn't go by where I am asked to restore that most treasured of fashion accessories — a woman's handbag. The owner of these two bags felt that they needed some love before she could be seen with them in public, and of course the beauty of leather handbags is that they will last a lifetime if you look after them. So, look after them we did!
"Shoes for men are about elegance or wealth; they are not playing with the inner character."
I am rarely asked to restore leather shoes, but the shoes which appear below were a favourite pair of their owner, whose wife had approached me about getting them recoloured as a surprise anniversary gift from her. Both were delighted with the result.
"In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine." — Ralph Waldo Emerson
In the leather care industry, the term "hand" is used to describe the softness and feel of the leather surface. Some of the softest and most luxurious leathers, however, are also the most prone to soiling and stains can be very difficult or even impossible to remove.
This was the case with a very expensive semi-aniline handbag presented to me for cleaning recently. The leather was heavily soiled by natural body oils from regular handling, and it also had a number of watermarks. Some of the stains were permanent, i.e. unable to be removed by cleaning.
The bag not only represented a significant investment but was also very much loved by its owner, who wanted to know if I could not only remove the stains but also add a protective finish. I explained that this was possible but that the protective finish might not have quite the same soft feel, or hand.
The photos below show the results from recolouring and applying a protective finish to the bag, but best of all—and to my client's great delight—the leather felt as soft and as luxurious as before!