The leather quality was good enough for $14 (and I'm not even remotely a tack snob), but even I had to admit the color was pretty garish. My Micklem is brown, but it's dark enough that it's not too distracting with my black dressage saddle. This thing...
|"HELLO I AM A BRIGHT RED BREASTPLATE!!!!!!!"|
Obviously the only solution was to dye the thing myself. After an approximately two second perusal of Google, I decided it sounded easy enough to be well within my capabilities, and my crafting abilities are on par with my desire to own leather that costs more than my monthly board payment.
I got on Amazon and typed in "leather stripper". Step One: Remove as much of the horrible red coloring as possible. Amazon happily led me to a deglazer by a brand I'm very familiar with, and then sent me on an easy peasy click trail that produced black dye and a leather finisher. I also added in an extra package of daubers that fortunately I didn't end up needing since they still haven't arrived.
Total Cost (including useless daubers): $28.17
When I finally got all of my liquid goodies in the mail, I set up shop in the garage. At this point, of course, the weather had decided it was finally time for winter, so I wasn't able to do it in the warm outdoors. This also meant I had to crack a window to not die of noxious fumes. Deglazer is acetone--nail polish remover, folks. That shit stinks.
I clamped the breastplate between two saw horses for ease of handling, and then began experimenting on the underside first in case I thoroughly screwed up my $14 strap goods.
You can't really tell how much tackiness or color the deglazer took off, so here's what it looks like with a first pass once I got to the front side:
Once I'd rubbed down/off the inside, I applied the first coat of dye. It went on very easily, and the smallest dab of dye covered pretty much the entire back side of the chest piece.
Although the dye is nice and shiny and pretty when it first goes on, it dries very quickly to a dull matte black.
With a quick rub down with a soft rag to get that off though, it shines back up again. It does not, however, when you're a bright red breastplate, instantly become a more socially acceptable black breastplate.
I got the color I would call mahogany (which was what this was originally listed as):
Obviously MOAR DYE was needed. I ended up doing three coats. It probably wouldn't have killed it to do one more, but between actually painting on the dye and waiting for each coat to dry, this was already well into taking the full day. I have zero patience, and when I start a project, I want to see it completed from start to finish as super quickly as possibly like right now why do I have to wait so long.
So after three coats, I cleaned off my dauber that had come with the dye, dampened it per packaging instructions (rendering Google useless. The instructions for each step are listed right on the boxes. An idiot could do this project.), and smeared on the resolene to seal the leather.
When I first put it on, I was like, "Wow. That is so bubbly. I must have done something wrong. Let me try that again." I wiped it off...and all the dye came with it!
And that is why we practice things on the parts that no one is ever going to see! Much too interested in instant gratification to go about re-dyeing the inside, I just slathered the resolene back on as-is and let it dry to see if the bubbly nonsense was going to affect anything. It didn't look too horrible when it was dry, so I went ahead and did the rest of the breastplate.
The finished result kept a little bit of the shine, but also came out a little splotchy looking up close. After a good once over with my Higher Standards conditioner, it evened out quite a bit (which I neglected to get a picture of). I don't know if the splotchiness was from my sloppy use of the resolene, or if I messed up somewhere else along the lines, but like I said, once it got a good once over from the conditioner, it did look a lot better.
And from a distance?
It actually looks quite alright!
Add on that brand new purple dressage pad that I bought myself for Christmas, and a black dressage bridle down the line, and we'll be the most styling dressage riders at our barn*!
*A barn where only one other dressage saddle resides, and it's owned by BM who never uses it...