How do you properly care for your leather journal or binding? This is a question that I sometimes get asked by my customers, so I'm thinking it might be good practice to include an instructional when I ship out their purchase. I still want to create this blog post because I think it might be useful for different situations, leather goods differ a lot depending on their manufacturing process so they are not always taken care of in the same way.
I might just start by saying that I am not an expert, I am a conservator restorer by profession but I am specialized in paintings, not books, so below I'm just sharing my personal opinion and knowledge.
There are some pretty straight forward rules that apply to leather care, however a journal is an object made of different materials that have been put together, so we must think of it as a whole. We are talking about leather, paper, cardboard, glue, paint and sometimes even metal foil or accessories.
A few general rules of thumb:
Leather needs to breath. Do not keep your journal in closed boxes or bags, and don't protect it with other jacket type over covers because it will attract humidity and the formation of mold.
Do not expose your leather journal to direct sun light. While sun is great to keep mold away, it does have a positive impact on book covers because it dries leather out, the glue and cardboard react and get distorted and wavy and last but not least, long term exposure fades leather dyes.
Keep a healthy relative humidity level in your home. If you live in a area that is humid or you have moisture in your walls, use a dehumidifier to keep the levels under control. It makes a huge difference - in Portugal where we live, for example, we use one every day during the cold season. Excess humidity is not only unhealthy for us humans but is also the prefect environment for the development of mold that loves to grow on leather goods.
Use proper products to care for your leather bindings. However be aware that the conditioners you will use depend entirely on what type of leather you are caring for - if natural, vegetal tanned, aniline dyed, etc.
Waxing is a great way to protect leather from humidity however it should not be performed too often, maybe once per year. You can find a great one that I use at Talas here.
Do not clean your leather journal with water. Use a proper product made for this specific end. You can find a good selection of cleaners, dressings and conditioners again online at Talas here.
Leather can be extremely resistant if properly cared for, it will last for hundreds of years. I like to provide a leather pouch or sometimes a natural linen pouch for the journals I make because I want to know they are protected, especially when on the go, inside a purse or a bag. However I do not advice that you keep the journal always closed in its leather pouch, by contrary, use it as much as possible, let it out on the shelf. Leather is a good that becomes even more beautiful with use.
Got a question about your leather journal? Contact me and I'll be happy to help if I can!