Two men stood outside my Studio window one cold morning a week ago and they were reading out loud my sign which is a common practice amongst Sydneysiders who walk past my window.
"Le Nooeyd Papp-illon - made to order shirts, jackets, bow ties, ties" said one, adding, "that's interesting".
"Look at those" said the other, "they look like RM Williams boots" .
I could not help myself so I opened the door and two middle-aged men from the local council who were working on the restoration of the precinct's pavements looked up at me with some surprise not realising that there was anyone home.
I invited them in and explained to them what they had seen in the window and that over time I had been exploring the art of patina and glacage and put the results in the window. As a throw away line I then added "and I'm happy to perform one on an old pair of yours if you have any but whatever comes of it is whatever comes of it". I did not expect to hear from them again after they left but lo and behold the next day a pair of extremely old cracked leather RM Williams boots was dropped up to the Studio with a request to make them young again.
As a cosmetic surgeon no doubt must tell some older women 'there's only so much I can do' - I too had to brace the recipient for what might come. Needless to say in the end I was pleasantly surprised with the results and it goes to show you that with a bit of tender loving care most boots will live on way beyond your wildest expectations.
The Process In Approximate Steps
1. The boots arrived and they were very old, very brown and very cracked at the side of the boots. (I will post an additional image of this boot). On assessment I realised that burgundy and oxblood would not show up well on these boots. Instead I thought about experimenting with blues and blacks.
2.The boots were stripped, sanded and bleached to try and bring as much colour out of the shoes so that new colour could go in.
3. The boots were soaked in Saphir Renovateur over night.
4. The boots were then brushed to bring them up ready to be dyed on which, in the end, I used both navy and black to bring out some unusual, deeper laid tonality which can only be seen by getting up close to the shoe.
5. Once dyeing was done, I then covered the shoes in a cognac pommade to try and get some other tones into the leather.
6. Using maroon, tobacco and cognac waxes by Saphir I began buffing the shoes in wax which I then burnished on using a very fine scrap of super 200's 2 ply cotton shirting which worked magically and much better than any other rags I have used in the past.
7. The waxing was done in layers moving from one boot to the other and then returning to the first boot again. Over and over the layers of wax went on and then were applied with a super fine rag and a small water dispenser.
8. In the final stages I worked solely on the toe box and heel to get a more glazed effect as the wax could not help those parts of the leather that were cracked with age. In the final analysis, image 8, you can make out the tonality that is very subdued between deep browns and a burgundy/brown that evolved from the use of navy dye on the leather.
If you would like to purchase the products in this blog post please do not hesitate to contact us for more information or else you can try Double Monk in Melbourne or Exquisite Trimmings in London.
|Click to enlarge this image which is almost 4000 pixels wide to see the details more clearly on this pair of restored RM Williams chelsea boots.|
|Some of the leather cracks that were in the shoe meant that no amount of polishing or nourishing of the leather would allow the boots to be glazed.|