Triple Goodness: Pears Soap, Passier Lederbalsam, Leather 'N' Rich

After recently pilfering my mom's tack room, I returned with some of forgotten treasures in need of a little attention, restoration and rehab.

Seeing a heap of leather that needs cleaning and conditioning can seem overwhelming, but if you attack the pieces a little at a time, it will get done. You figure, maybe a half hour a night while watching television or listening to a podcast as a distraction, the task doesn't seem as daunting.

One piece in particular, an old tooled breast collar with some sterling trim, was particularly neglected. The back side was dry, cracking, and had layer upon layer of old sweat and dander.

Heavy duty dirt, sweat, and superficial cracking of the breast collar leather required deep cleaning.
No, this is not a job for something generic like Leather New, although in the case of neglect, anything - even Leather New - is better than nothing. To get the deep down dirt off and clean out all the little cracks and crevices, I reached for my go-to handy, dandy, baby-soft toothbrush and Pears soap.

After getting the leather good and wet with lukewarm water in the sink, I very gently scrubbed with Pears soap, rinsing each area thoroughly afterwards. A tack sponge would work almost as well as my softie toothbrush, but I wanted to be sure I got in between the tooling and the multitude of cracks that had developed to remove every last trace of filth.

Pears Cuts Through Horse Dander
Pears soap, water, a soft toothbrush, microfiber rag and your fingers can remove sweat and grime from dirty leather. Care must be taken when leather is wet to avoid scratching or stretching.
Trust me, mud came off with the consistency of shaving cream. Pears soap and water really cleans!

Time cleaning: 10 minutes.

After the leather was rinsed clean, I patted dry with a towel and put down an extremely light coat of Passier Lederbalsam with my fingers. It's been my experience that distressed leather can sometimes dry to an almost nubuck texture after being wet and "supercleaned," and the Lederbalsam seems to keep the grain tighter and smoother as it dries.

Passier Lederbalsam
Pat dry, light coat of Passier Lederbalsam: 5 minutes.

I left the breast collar to dry flat on a towel overnight, then rubbed a total of three coats of Lederbalsam in by hand, both front and back side, allowing each coat to penetrate completely and wiping with a soft cloth between coats.

The back side of the breast collar absorbed the first coat of Lederbalsam in record time. Cleaning the leather thoroughly beforehand removed damaging dirt and sweat and allowed the conditioner to penetrate deeply.

After just one application of Passier Lederbalsam, the tooled side of the leather is already beginning to appear moisturized, supple, and the color restored.
Three coats of Lederbalsam, buffing in between: 15 minutes.

The conditioning effects of Passier Lederbalsam are legendary, and the breast collar was no exception. The leather had become supple, richly colored, and the areas with previous cracking much more flexible and nourished feeling. While no leather conditioner can repair cracked leather, conditioned leather is much stronger and less prone to additional cracking and damage. Particularly with vintage leather, keeping the leather conditioned is paramount to its longevity.

After 3 applications of Passier Lederbalsam, the leather became supple and glowed with the effects of a thorough conditioning.
The breast collar had a very natural low gloss from the Lederbalsam, but I know after a day or so the finish tends to revert to matte. To enhance the tooling and preserve the appearance, I broke out my secret weapon: Blackrock Leather 'N' Rich.

When I want something to look fancy, fancy, fancy, but don't want the more artificial appearance of a topcoat or wax, Blackrock Leather 'N' Rich performs like no other.

Blackrock Leather 'N' Rich gives a nice sheen to fine leather, enhancing its natural colors with an almost HD effect.
Certainly, Blackrock can be a little tricky to use. It takes a bit of finesse to get the right effect and can work against you if used incorrectly, but it delivers results nothing short of amazing. When people ask how I make my collection pieces look so good, or how to make their "good" tack look brilliant, I enthusiastically recommend Blackrock. And trust me, if it didn't work, I'd use something else. I have zero loyalty to products that don't perform.

Blackrock is sticky, and a little goes a long way. For this reason, I only apply with my fingertips, and very lightly at that. Even the thinnest coat over already-conditioned leather is sufficient. Once I've rubbed it in, I step back and leave it alone.

I've learned the hard way - don't touch! No soft towels. No buffing. Nothing.

When it no longer appears wet, I'll rub over the surface with my fingertips to smooth the finish and enhance the gloss, and that's it. I'm done.

Blackrock finish time: 10 minutes.

If applied correctly, there's no excess sticky residue, and Leather 'N' Rich will give a long-lasting finish that looks like you just cleaned and conditioned your leather, even months later. It enhances the natural colors of leather to such a degree it's like viewing in high definition. Best of all, you haven't smothered your leather in an acrylic or wax that makes future cleaning or conditioning difficult.

Blackrock Leather 'N' Rich over conditioned leather gives a piece that extra something-something that gives ordinary vintage tack a museum-quality finish that lasts. You can even see the outline of the silver reflected in the leather surrounding it.
Absolutely beautiful. Perfection. "I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille."

Before: Sad.  /  After: Glowing. A little time well spent.

It took just over 30 minutes total to clean, condition, and make the tired old breast collar sexy again. That's one sitcom or a podcast-worth of time, but what a payoff.

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