More dying and less death.

My cosplay character wears gloves most of the time as a precaution and protection for those around her.  Since I don’t want to make or wear long silk gloves I had to think of something else.  Going with a more masculine take on the character I wanted gloves that had more of a tactical/military feel to them.  The chances of finding them in yellow, naturally, was slim to none.  Thinking along the same lines as the pants, I looked for gloves that were white and I could change the color scheme.

What I found were Fox sport glove knock-offs.  For those that don’t know, many products produced in China will come from factories that operate on 12-16 hour days.  At the end of the day the factory stops producing the name brand and the workers go home.  Then a new shift of workers come in and begin manufacturing basically the same product with only slightly different materials.  The gloves I purchased were described as a military tactical motorcycle gloves and priced at about $12.  The Fox symbol is clearly visible but never mentioned in the listing.  When received the gloves have the Fox symbol AND the Fox trade name on the Velcro clasp.  My biggest concern was the fact that I purchased the gloves from a Chinese seller.  If they took my money and didn’t provide the product my savings go from 75% to 0 in a heartbeat.

Once I received the gloves the next hurdle required a little research.  Since the gloves contain a number of different materials in the construction, getting the coloring right was going to be tricky.  There’s neoprene, leather, artificial leather, and plastic.  I knew the hardest would be the neoprene and the most difficult would be the leather.  Let me clarify.  Neoprene is designed to be resistant to chemicals and liquids.  This means getting it to accept some type of chemical solution to change its color would be insanely hard.  It’s just designed to prevent that.  Meanwhile leather requires chemicals to remove protective coatings, chemicals to change the color and then more chemicals to protect the new color.  All administered by hand.  While it may not be particularly hard work, it’s still work.

The first thing I did was use a deglazing solution to remove the protectant coating on the leather.  If I had it to do over I would not have bothered.  The fumes where incredibly overwhelming.  In the short time that I had the bottle open and was applying it to the leather I became light headed.  And I only deglazed the leather on the back of the gloves.  The leather/suede palms were untouched.  The fumes were so strong that I did a pretty half assed job of deglazing the second glove.  I was more concerned with getting the bottle closed and the air cleared before I wound up drooling on the floor.

This is where the wishful thinking comes in.  After the deglazing I threw the gloves into the pot with my pants and shirt to be dyed yellow.  I didn’t have a lot of hope for this because of the materials but I figured I had a second pair available so I could experiment on this on.  The only part of the gloves that accepted the color was the leather.  The palms and the back of the gloves came out an acceptable yellow.  The stitching, ironically, remained white.  The remainder of the gloves remained white.  I had hoped the nylon type webbing would have accepted the color as well.

With a large percentage of the gloves left to turn yellow I turned to the internet for ideas.  After several google searches I could only find one real suggestion for changing the color of neoprene.  Sharpies.  Yeah, sharpies.  Most of these sharpie suggestions also came from diving sites.  Since divers tend to wear neoprene diving suits I was reluctant but willing to defer to their greater knowledge of the material.  So after several drinks one night I grabbed my yellow sharpie and started coloring.

"Dying" process
“Dying” process

I was extremely happy with the results.  While not perfect I am more than satisfied with the finished product.  The yellow of the sharpie and the dye are different hues but I don’t think this is an issue.  The webbing, when worn, shows some uneven coloring.  There are areas of darker ink saturation and other areas that appear lighter because of lower ink saturation.  The rubber and the neoprene colored extremely well.  Those divers seem to know what they’re talking about.

As I mentioned before, if I had it to do over I would not bother with deglazing and dying the leather.  Given how well the sharpie worked I might think about leaving the leather white or coloring it with the sharpie as well.  I am concerned with streaking the leather in this manner.

I am beginning to think that Sharpies are a cosplayers best friend.  Using them on the gloves, while the most extensive, is certainly not the last time I used their color changing capabilities.  While sewing a patch onto a jacket I used a thread that only matched part of the patch.  As I was sewing by hand this was hardly a perfect job.  Once I finished I used a sharpie to color the thread to match the corresponding area.  Making the work less visible and the costume more aesthetically pleasing.  I can see them being used to touch up colors in other fabrics, leathers and latex where normal wear creates scuffing or chipping.  Given the price I think purchasing a set with a variety of colors would be useful to anybody starting out.

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