Painted leather Traveler's Notebook covers, on the outside....

May 27, 2015 2 Comments

Or...why I don't paint the inside of my covers with the same acrylics based leather dyes I use on the smooth outside.

I've gotten a few questions from people asking me if I could paint the inside of the leather Traveler's Notebook covers. The answer to that would have to be yes, of course I can paint the inside of the covers, however I choose not to do it. For a reason, a very good reason in my mind. =)

I do dye the insides of the covers with alcohol or oil based leather dyes. So there's plenty of color to be had ...

for instance, the above Nebula Traveler's Notebook, has a purple inside =)

To explain why I choose not to paint the inside, I would first have to explain something about the vegetable tanned leather I use.
The vegetable tanned saddle leather I use is 2.5 mm thick (6-6.5 oz). A cow hide is not uniformly thick, so to get the full grain leather with this thickness, the hides are split. The outside is the full grain outer skin. The inside, where the cut was made, has a rougher suede like appearance. With the tanning process these loose fibers get pressed down and it will look slightly flattish at first, but with time the fibers will loosen again.

Not all insides have the same length fibers, some are very short and some are fairly long...
Now if you dye this with acrylic leather paint and/or finisher, you will flatten the fibers at first. Depending on the type of finisher you use the fibers will stay down quite a while.

However in the end, and probably sooner rather then later, due to the nature of the use the notebook gets, ....folding it open and close repeatedly, ....these fibers will work themselves loose again. revealing the undyed natural leather color.

As an example I have here, my very first home made leather Traveler's Notebook. It was my daily carry for about a year and is still going strong, even though I did replace it a year ago with another black Traveler's Notebook...

As you can see, I do use these notebooks, so they look a bit scruffy from getting logged around all the time. Both have had about a years worth of daily abuse by now, so I think it is fair to compare them.

The first was dyed with an acrylic base dye and finisher, both inside and out and the second with an oil based (fiebings) leather dye.

The notebook on the left is showing some wear on the edges, where the dye has gone, showing the natural color of the leather. The right notebook doesn't have this at all. The dye doesn't lie on the surface, but has sunken into the leather. Other then some wear on the edges, with the acrylic based dye, you can see the dye is holding great!

On the inside however, this is a different story.

As you can see, the fibers are loosening and showing the natural color of the leather.

Which is not a problem and does nothing to the integrity of the leather, but when you have a pretty painting on the'll get all chipped and strange looking... which is also ok, if you don't mind that =)

With the alcohol or oil based dyes I use for the inside, this won't happen. After dyeing I brush them with a suede brush to get a nice and soft suede feeling surface.

You can still get different colors for the outside and inside.

and the outside can be painted, while still having the nice and soft interior.

I hope this helped explain this all a bit.
If you like to see more Traveler's Notebooks and or inserts you can follow me here:
Facebook Group: Lady Falcon Traveler's Notebooks
Facebook page: Morgan Le Fae's Trinkets
IG: LadyFalconTN
Flickr: Traveler's Notebooks
Etsy: MorganLeFaesTrinkets

2 Responses


June 01, 2017

Thank you Linda

Linda Kunsman
Linda Kunsman

June 01, 2017

You are a wonderful source of knowledge and inspiration in regards to working with the leather. that nebulous art is fantastic!! thank you so much for sharing it.

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Size Chart
Falcon Travelers, Hobos, Ringbound and insert sizes (per March, 2019)


Pencil / Pen Case sizes :

110-205 mm closed
268-345 mm open
Closes with metal snaps.

90-205 mm closed
228-345 mm open
Closes with metal snaps.

90-165 mm closed
228-305 mm open
Closes with metal snaps.



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