Updated: Jul 21
Now, in previous blog posts, I’ve addressed how to combine colors correctly. Where I discuss leather and how to match the color of linings, edge paint and thread. You can read more about that HERE.
However, this post is all about mixing edge paint in order to match the leather you are applying it to, or at least how to attain a specific color you had in mind.
This technique isn't fool proof however, and tweaking is always going to be necessary, but it can get you very close to what you desire.
Now to start mixing edge paint, I recommend the following bottles of paint as a minimum:
As you can see, you only really need 6 colors to get started. Now, black and white aren’t technically colors, but for the purpose of this post, let’s include them.
Red yellow and blue are of course our primary colors, and when mixed, gives us literally all the colors of the rainbow.
Brown is one of the hardest colors to mix in my experience (you may find otherwise). Even though it’s made by mixing all the primary colors together, it requires a lot of tweaking to get a pleasing outcome. So I always like to have a good mid brown in my collection to make life easier.
Black and white are there simply to change the tone of our base colors.
So if you created purple by mixing red and blue, you can get light purple, such as lavender by adding white, and dark purple, such as Russian violet by adding black.
Now, it’s time to get some hard numbers to work from. What we need are ratios of the color we desire.
To do that, we need a free online resource such as trycolors.com
You’ll need to know roughly what colors make up the final color you desire. So if you don’t know red and blue make purple, a quick search online ‘how do you make the color purple?’ should give you the answers you need.
Then you can use your online color mixer to adjust red and blue to reach your desired shade of purple.
Once you have your final color, note down the ratios on a notepad, or create a Word doc so you can keep your mix ratios for future reference.
Note that all ratios combine to result in the number 100. For example, lavender is 20% red, 40% blue, 40% white. 20+40+40 = 100.
Keeping the lavender example, you can now mix your edge paint with this ratio. But how do you pour out these exact ratios accurately?
Well, you can use 2 methods, weight and volume.
For weight, you will need a set of accurate scales and a clean container. Place the container onto your scales and reset the scales to read ‘0’ again.
Then, let’s say you want 100 grams of lavender edge paint. Simply pour out 20g of red, 40g of blue, and 40g of white, then mix thoroughly.
Now, the problem is, what happens if you accidentally pour out more of one color into the container?
If it’s the first color into the container, you can simply pour some back into the original bottle of edge paint. But, if it’s the second or third color that’s been combined into the same container, it can’t be poured back in.
Now, I don’t know how much you paid attention to math in school, but if you mess up when weighing your edge paint, you’re about to come into a ratio problem of epic proportions (at least for me, I was probably too busy playing POGs during math class).
So, a better, or at least a less problematic alternative, is to use a set of medical syringes. With this method you can cleanly dispense a metered dose of any specific color without having to worry about pouring too much paint in one go.
You can use a syringe without a needle, but drawing out paint from the bottle without getting paint on the side of the syringe will be challenging.
So I recommend using the largest gauge needle you can find. Large gauge needles are normally designed to draw out thick liquids from vials, rather than for bodily injection.
Then, carefully cut off the sharp tip with a rotary tool and diamond disc or metal cutting disk. Make sure you wear safety goggles and keep you fingers well clear of the needle tip.
Now you have a set of at least 6 syringes, with 6 large (and now blunt) needles, ready for use.
Only use one syringe with one color to prevent accidental mixing.
Use a Sharpie pen and write the corresponding color on the side of each syringe, or better yet, put some leather edge paint on the top of each plunger to remind you to only use that syringe with that color.
We all know not to share syringes! (maybe that’s why?)
Most syringes are in ‘ml’ (millileters) also known as ‘CC’ (cubic centimeters). 1ml = 1cc.
Now you can decide on the color and the volume you desire. Again let’s go for the color lavender, and say you want 100ml of the stuff.
Draw out 20ml of red, 40ml of blue, and 40ml of white. Combine into a clean, sealable container, and you're done.
Of course, if you're using a 20ml syringe, you need to draw out 2 x 20ml for the blue and the same goes for white.
50ml of lavender paint? 10ml red, 20ml blue, 20ml white.
25ml? 5ml red, 10ml blue, 10ml white.
Fine tuning your paint color.
Now you know your ‘ballpark’ measurement for your color. You may find those ratios don’t quite give you the color you so desired.
The color may not be as close to the leather you are trying to match it with, or it's not the shade you imagined.
You can find this out by taking some of your edge paint and applying a few drops onto the leather you are matching it to, like in the image below:
So, let’s say your lavender is slightly too ‘pink’ . Take 0.5ml of blue and mix it with the rest of the paint in the container and reassess. Still too pink? Add another 0.5ml (or more) until you get the desired outcome. Then note that down in your color matching notebook / Word doc.
How about when your lavender mix happens to be too dark? Simply add white. Too light? Add black, or add more red+blue to lower the ratio of white in the mix. Your choice.
A notebook really is ideal, as you can place some of your final edge paint mix onto the paper and let it dry next to the ratios, or you can place some on a leather swatch and staple it to the page. This makes future mixing easier at a glance.
1) Once you have your final mix made. Clean out your syringes and needles with warm water (draw and express clean water), rinse, then let dry on paper towel with the plunger and body separated.
2) Be careful adding large amounts of one color when fine tuning your mix. Some colors such as red and black tend to be quite dominant, whereas (I find) yellow and white to barely make a difference when only a small amount is added.
3) If the edge paint is too thick to pull through a needle (i.e. it takes more than 10 seconds to fill a syringe), use some small plastic tubing that fits tightly to the inside or the outside of the syringe tip to draw out paint from your bottle. Those hollow plastic Q-Tips or cotton buds tend to fit tight inside most medical syringe tips, just snip off the swab ends.
Thank you for reading!
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