How undyed leather ages

Photo, Il Bisonte

During my Van Der Spek undyed binder pilot project for VDS, I have been recording the ageing process of my undyed binder for over a year. The original leather is stunningly beautiful – perfect, pristine, almost pearly pink. But it marks easily and shows every scuff and scrape. Light (both direct and indirect) causes oxidisation, darkening, tanning. After the first traumatic marks and scuffs, an awkward teenage phase follows where it is not quite anything but a mix of everything. But then it starts to turn a gorgeous toasty caramel and the marks blend into the patina created by being handled. In the end it is a diary of your journey through life. Marked by life as you are but oh so very beautiful and authentic.

I also have other leather products which show the darkening process. Here you can see my older darker Tigerklo wrap covers with my newer lighter Zenok leather TN covers – all undyed.


Here are Il Bisonte Vacchetta leather notebook covers in various stages12227112_1121317497903196_8592538222191420101_n


Midori MD natural leather cover




And here are natural leather Hobonichi covers in various stages of ageing


Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

5 thoughts

  1. Thanks for sharing Janet. Do you treat this leather? If so, what do you use? I have several items from Gillio, Midori, The Superior Labor…and never gave them a treat.

    1. I normally never ever treat my leather binders because the oils from my hands do the trick. This leather I did put beeswax on though when I had put it in the sun for a few weeks to darken it.

  2. Very interesting Janet – thank you for sharing. I have created a range of notebooks made with a beautiful waxy Italian full-grain leather, and I am really looking forward to seeing how some of the brighter colours age.

    I have been using my own black leather version for a few months and it has developed a lovely smooth shine, but I have recently put a mid-brown version into circulation so that I can see how it ages – I can’t wait to see the character it develops.

  3. I had no idea. I’ve seen several people posting newly purchased “nude” planners recently and thought “Ugh, not for me”, but now that I see how much they darken I might reconsider in the future.

  4. Thanks for sharing all these undyed leather covers…..

    Just love the progression of the patina developing…..such character created over time….

    The extreme transformation of the Hobonichi covers is quite amazing……like it though… well as the other covers…….

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