[Cowboys & Aliens] [Update 8-25] Aging/Darkening Leather Holster?

Kevin Gossett

Master Member
So I'm working on my Jake Lonergan costume for Halloween, and I've picked up a gun and holster/belt. The only issue is the holster and belt is a little stiff, and the leather is a maroon-red-brown color.


I would like to weather it a bit, and also darken the color. What is the best way to go about doing this?

Here is the end result I would like:


Thanks for the input!
Re: [Cowboys & Aliens] Aging/Darkening Leather Holster?

I'm not sure about the color. If it's a dye, the leather itself is now colored that, you might have to paint over it. But a little steel wool and sandpaper lightly will help take the sheen off it.
Re: [Cowboys & Aliens] Aging/Darkening Leather Holster?

I am not a leather artisan by any means but I have worked with leather from time to time...plus I stayed in a holiday inn express last night. In all honesty I would say that trying to change the color of the leather is going to be more trouble and money than it's worty. If you look at leather sites like Tandy Leather you can find kits precut with the materials you need to build a holster for about 30.00 and then you can dye it whatever you want. Check out this link: Tandy Leather Factory - Leathercraft and Leather Craft Supplies
If you go this root I would try and find a local leather store and they probably can help you match the dye color. It looks like a tan to me but I have not used that dye in a while....just dont trust color swatches on websites, they are way off.

However if you are committed to fixing this one, here are some tips.

The dye of the leather is already too dark to match the movie color. So you have two options dye over the leather and make it darker than the movie or try and strip the dye and start over. Be aware striping the dye will damage the leather to some degree but you plan on weathering it anyways. For tips on that check this link: How to Remove Leather Dye | eHow.com

If you want to dye the leather darker and then see if weathering will lighten it then you can do the following:
  1. Buy a deglazer from a leather company and apply it to strip the protective top coat from the leather.
  2. Apply a dye over the leather which will likely result in a chocalate brown color. I recomend getting a test piece of leather and dye it to match your holster so you can test different dyes to see what the result is. From the photos your holster looks like it looks like its British tan by Fiebing or Mahogony from Eco Flow. I have used both dyes and you can get them here Tandy Leather Factory - Leathercraft and Leather Craft Supplies
  3. Weather it using some of the steps from the ehow link I provided and hopefull that will lighten the color enough to be close to the movie. I have weathered leather with different grits of sandpaper before to great effect. Just start with a corse 250 and work higer grades like 800. Remember weathering is hard to mess up...afterall mistakes just add more character to the weathering.
  4. Apply a protective coat on top to keep the leather from weathering. Ironic I know.
Sadly thats the best advice I can give, maybe someone with more leather knowledge can help. Ultimately you may just be stuck with what you have if you are unable to start over.
Re: [Cowboys & Aliens] Aging/Darkening Leather Holster?

Thanks for the advice.

Like you said, if I'm going for a weathered/aged look, I guess I can't really mess it up, huh? I'll just have to experiment with a couple different methods.
Re: [Cowboys & Aliens] Aging/Darkening Leather Holster?

I age the leather on my Dresden Files Shield bracelets by adding alchohol and folding back and forth and crumpling helps, I also use files or sandpaper and have even used my daughters charcoal pencils to dirty them up. I would test on the inside first with the achohol I did have one leather scrap that did funny things
Re: [Cowboys & Aliens] Aging/Darkening Leather Holster?

LeoFirebrand pretty much hit the nail on the head about coloration. However if the pieces haven't been sealed (pores are still open) and just stained red, there may be a way to lighten up the color a bit. Use leather bleach and rub out as much of the original dye out. If it works then you can restain it brown.
Regarding the stiffness, there are store bought conditioners for leather. But those are only really useful if the work pieces are stiff as cardboard. Neatsfoot oil or mink oil will work really well, but I find vegetable oil to work just the same only not as expensive. A note on vegetable oil, it has a tendency to attract mold especially in humid climates. If you go veg, let them air out thoroughly (a week to be sure) first. To apply the oil, just put some on a cotton rag and rub it in gently until the surface is saturated. Don't put too much that it's dripping. Apply on the surfaces and the rest of the leather will absorb it in a couple or so hours, preferably overnight.
Re: [Cowboys & Aliens] Aging/Darkening Leather Holster?

Just wanted to update on my progress...

I've tried multiple different methods to getting a darker brown color on the holster, and so far I'm pretty pleased!

Methods include:
- Hot water
- Vegetable oil, drying in the sun
- Hair conditioner, drying in the sun
- Brown shoe polish, rub in, buff out
- Black shoe polish, rub in, buff out




The last picture probably shows it best, because I didn't do anything to the belt loop, so you can see the before and after...

It's darkened significantly, so now I need to go about some weathering to give it that aged look. And then I get to do it all over again for the belt!

Thanks for all the suggestions!
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