Much like an autobiography is to a person is what patina is to leather. It’s the character and personality that develops overtime as your leather ages, it’s very own life story.
The sun, moisture, heat, dirt and your natural body oils is what creates the patina as the leather absorbs all life around it. Over time it develops a sheen in some places while other areas may become darker, it really all comes down to the way it is used! Even the scratches and marks along the way add to the distinction of the patina.
Which leathers create the best patina?
The easiest way to put it is, the less processed the leather the better the patina develops.
Chemically treated leather such as chrome tanned leather will barely develop a patina. Vegetable tanned leather on the other hand is as natural as it gets! As it doesn’t contain any synthetic coatings it’s the best candidate for developing a beautiful patina. It’s practically naked! So, if you own one of my natural keyrings you will know what I am talking about! It’s one of the things I love most about working with raw leather as no two pieces will ever age the same. Vegetable tanned leathers that have been dyed a different colour will also develop a patina just not as noticeable as the lighter nude shade.
The keyring on the right is new whereas the keyring on the left has been exposed to the sun for just a few days! The patina still has some developing to do before it gets to a deep patinated brown.
Can I speed up the patina process?
Yep! The quickest way to help the patina develop is to let your veg tan leather sunbake! Tanning veg tan is just like tanning your own skin, so be sure to keep in mind that the parts that aren’t exposed to the sun will not be tanned. Another way to speed up the process is to rub in a leather conditioner or balm, you will see it change colour immediately! These are good ways to help the patina along but ultimately the more you use it, the faster it will darken. The rest comes with time.
Can I slow down the patina?
Yes and no. Firstly, we should note that you can’t prevent the ageing process of vegetable tanned leather. It’s ability to age is the unique trademark of high quality, genuine leather. With that said, you can definitely treat your leather with regular cleaning and conditioning to preserve its original look for longer. Or you can also try a leather protector spray that contains UV!
This too is just a few days of difference. I can't wait to keep using my envelope wallet and to see the patina grow! I will update this photo as the patina changes!
Patina doesn’t affect the quality, sturdiness or longevity of the leather. If anything, it only adds to the beauty, character and value so don’t be afraid of the wear and tear as it’s all part of the patina journey!