Leather Restoration - How to Care for Your Vintage Leather
MacCase launched their Premium Leather line back in 2007. As with their invention of the Apple-speicific case market in 1999, the launching of a high end leather case line specifically designed for Apple portables was unprecedented.
One of the standout features of the line was the inclusion of a very exclusive and unique distressed "vintage" brown hide. Most leathers are "finished" in the sense that the surface of the hide is sealed, sometimes very lightly like on glove leather, sometimes very heavily like on car seat. The sealing process protects the leather and slows the evaporation of the natural oils. One of the things that made the MacCase Vintage hide so unique was that it was a raw unfinished hide. There are other companies that make vintage leather products, but most of those are made from finished or sealed hides that are dyed to look like vintage. The MacCase vintage was and is the real deal, with a look straight out of central casting for classic western movies and sic-fi post apocalyptic epics.
After many questions about how to best care for the vintage products, we have recently created a short video to that explains the best practices for maintaining the hides. The following is a transcript from our leather restoration video explaining the techniques used. The video is below. We have also started offering leather restoration services for customers who would like us to professionally restore their vintage MacCase.
This is the first video in the new MacCase Premium Leather playlist. This video covers how to perform leather restoration services on raw, unfinished, distressed vintage hides.These procedures are not recommended on finished leather of any kind. Real vintage leather has open pores and will breathe and change in appearance over time. The leather will lighten in color and can loose softness due to the oils evaporating out. This is a natural process. At the same time, interacting with it, such as where you touch it and where the hide rests on your body, flattens the nap causing it to look dark and shiny. This patina process is one of the things that makes vintage leather so appealing to so many people. In order to help maintain softness, prevent long term damage from weather, extend the life of the hides and prolong the aesthetic appearance, it is recommend that the hides be treated and cared. If you love your bag as many of our customers do, it just makes sense to take care of it.
If you have owned your vintage product for some time, you may have noticed the color has changed. Or the product is not as soft as it used to be or you're worried about keeping the leather protected from the rain. Maybe the original matte finish is a distant memory due to the shine that has developed. The video covers some of the best ways to restore the hides and insure maximum life from whatever vintage leather product you own. They have been tested and developed over many years providing leather reservation services on our wonderfully loyal customer's bags, sleeves, cases and folios.
The video covers two techniques, restoring the original matte finish to the hide and restoring the high oil content to the hide. Note that both of the techniques will change the look of your bag. But restoring the oil content back will extend the life of the product greatly.
First let's look at the bringing back the matte finish - what we're going to use is a brass wire brush. This type of brush is available ay any hardware store and are very inexpensive. As you begin to move the brush across the hide you see what looks like scratches. What we are actually doing is lifting the nap of the leather back up. The key here is to go very lightly otherwise you risk micro tearing the leather and shortening the life of the hide. Though they almost look the same, there is a difference between lifting up the nap and actually tearing into the leather with the brush. Like any other kind of restoration service, leather restoration does take some skill and knowledge of technique to preform successfully. Go lightly! Work the surface slowly and eventually the matte appearance will return.
Now to restore the oil. First thing to note is the more oil you add the darker the hide will get. If the leather has not been treated for a while it will absorb an incredible amount of oil. But do realize the hide can become over saturated: too much oil will cause the oil to transfer on your hands, clothing, table tops etc. once you start using the product again. Start out light and add oil slowly. You can always add more once you've seem the outcome and can judge the level of "thirst" of the hide. The process is pretty simple: pour some oil into a tray, small dish or other such container, dip in a sponge and just start wiping lightly over the surface. Again you want to use a light hand vs flooding the hide and then worrying about it being over saturated. You can use more oil in some places than others adding a custom look.
We found Neetsford oil works very well and use it when customers return their vintage products to us for leather restoration. It's the same oil many people use to break in baseball gloves when they're new. You can go more lightly on the inside of the bag due to the area not being affected so negatively by the weather. Once complete, it's best to leave the bag untouched for a few hours to let the oil permeate the hides and to insure there will be no transfer. In the first few hours after adding the oil the bag will change how it looks quite a bit. Give the leather time to drink the oil in before deciding whether to add more.
So if you have one of our Premium Leather Sleeves, Flight Jackets, iPad cases, Leather Shoulder Bags or Leather Briefcases following these simple leather restoration steps can keep your vintage MacCase model looking fresh and protected for many years. If you have any questions or are interested in our leather restoration services, click the leather restoration link at the upper right hand conner of the navigator.