Embracing Patina: A Guide to Leather Care

Embracing Patina: A Guide to Leather Care

Author: Hannah Ferrell


Leather holds a timeless allure, boasting durability and character that only improve with age. From daily carry wallets to bags and more, leather goods often become more than just possessions; they become part of our stories. However, maintaining their beauty and integrity requires care. We thought it may be helpful to share with you tips and techniques to ensure your handcrafted leather goods last a lifetime.

Embracing the Natural Aging Process

While some prefer to maintain a pristine appearance through meticulous cleaning and conditioning, our philosophy falls more in the camp of embracing the natural aging process. By welcoming patina and imperfections, we’re allowing leather to tell part of our stories.

Speaking of stories, last summer Hannah’s toddler took an ink pen to their leather couch, creating his own masterpiece. While we’d like to report it all came out, it did not. Unfortunately it was not caught in time. Which is also a valuable lesson. In the case of removing ink from your leather goods, time is really of the essence to lift it off the surface. While not funny at the time, the couch has now become known as Nolan’s college couch, when he leaves the nest one day this piece of furniture will be waiting to go with him. This family piece of leather furniture now has been tattooed, marking this stage of life with a toddler.

Nolan’s college couch:

living room couch with drawing on it's leather surface

Understanding Leather Care Fundamentals

Whatever your approach, understanding the fundamentals of leather care is essential. Here are a few basics to keep in mind when caring for your leather goods:

It’s a good idea to remove dirt, dust, and other debris that can accumulate on and scratch your leather goods. Simply wiping down the item with a clean cloth helps to remove surface dirt. The main way we condition and protect our leather is by using Smith’s Leather Balm. We were introduced to this product about 5 years ago through other leather makers. This product deserves the hype and we’ve seen its results first hand. Before each market and order shipped our handcrafted leather goods are conditioned using it. We’re not sponsored by Smith’s and this isn’t an ad, just genuinely excited to share with you a product that we use and is a staple. 

Why do we love it so much?

It supports an awesome husband and wife team with the shared desire to use an all natural handmade product on their leather goods and in their homes.

  • 100% Organic Cocoa Butter
  • 100% Organic Beeswax
  • 100% Organic Pure Sweet Almond Oil

If you want to read and learn more about Smith’s Leather Balm visit their website.

Applying The Leather Balm:

Brian applying Smiths leather balm to dry fly leathers good wallet

Proper Conditioning Techniques

Leather is susceptible to drying out and losing its natural oils over time. Conditioning helps replenish these oils, keeping the leather soft, supple, and resistant to cracking. Using a clean cotton cloth apply a small amount of the balm and gently massage it into the leather in circular motions. Allow the conditioner to penetrate the leather for a few minutes, then wipe off any excess with a clean cloth. The natural balm creates a barrier that repels water while allowing the leather to breathe. 

Storage and Embracing the Patina

Let’s be honest, the DFLG leather goods are an everyday carry item, but we even like to change it up and swap out for a different style of wallet or handbag. Good storage is key to preserving leather goods when they're not in use. We suggest storing them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, heat sources, and humidity, as these can cause the leather to dry out or become discolored. If possible opt for breathable fabric bags or boxes to protect leather items from dust and scratches.

We’re big proponents of embracing the patina.Over time, leather develops a unique patina that adds character and charm to the item. Embrace the natural aging process of leather, and appreciate the beauty that comes with each scratch and scuff. Caring for leather goods doesn’t need to be fussy or complicated, it just asks for a little diligence and a deep appreciation for craftsmanship.

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