…And then we skip ahead a few steps, sorry. The detail was fiendishly difficult in places because it’s so tight; I need to invest in some more tooling punches to handle the really small stuff. The wheel spokes, for example, required a small screwdriver. I tried on an earlier draft to punch around the letters; it was simply too small, so I bought a set of 1/4″ letters. (Alas, they had no sans serif font available; hopefully the 3rd AD doesn’t come after me with pitchforks.)
I dyed the black parts with the smallest brush I had, and then dyed over everything with forest green, which left the black just showing through, just a wee bit darker than everything else.
So how did I get the blended black on green effect? I stumbled on this technique by accident, but it turns out that if you put too much linseed oil on the flesh (back) side of the leather, it bleeds through and creates sharp dark spots on your grain side–which is absolutely horrifying if you didn’t expect this. However, they start to blend with whatever dye you already had, and the edges soften. It takes several days for the effect to finish.The overall color effect is a little darker than I intended, but very “classic” GI, before the Army got into its digital camouflage fetish. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the woodland camo uniforms. This evokes the feel of that without simply reproducing the patch as it would appear on that uniform.
UPDATE: I decided to try something a little lighter and more traditionally leather-colored, perhaps in honor of the desert camo uniform (which was actually my favorite):
For this, I used the Eco-Flo Hi-Lite Color Stain in Briar Brown. Some sort of antiquing finish would probably be better, but I’m not spending the 10 bucks in gasoline and bridge toll to get one today.
Why am I unable to make the letters even?
There is substantial variation in the centering (or lack thereof) in the letter set. This is a great disappointment to me. You wouldn’t think it would make much difference, but when the letters are only 1/4″ high…
Anyway, letters notwithstanding, I think I like the second one better. Practice will make perfect–or more perfect, at least.
Update again: The colors shifted to more of a tan and black after it dried. These shots are after the finishes were applied; in addition to being semi-glossy, they are now about as weather-proof as I can make them short of dipping them in wax. I’m not certain how they will be used (possibly as sew-on patches, but maybe just display), but they should be pretty durable.