To make carved leather goods with custom images and patterns, I use natural leather that hasn’t been dyed. This way the outcome is more interesting and I may use multiple colors to make handpainted varicolored leather goods as well.
Dyes that sink into the leather surface
I have decided to use the sort of dyes that sink into the leather surface. These colors do not rub off or crackle. When you touch the item, you’ll feel actual leather surface under your palm, not the coat of paint. All colors are really beautiful and there’s quite a selection of them too – I usually keep black, dark brown, medium and light brown, yellow, green, blue, mahogany and red. But there are even more variations and tones, so it is possible to order additional colors (also lighter or darker variations). But – there is a limit in this range – there is no white, pink or grey for example.
As these colors sink into the leather, they allow to keep the best magical features of the vegetable tanned leather still visible. For example you can observe the changes in tone even when leather is dyed – except for the black as nothing can’t get darker than that. But proud black-items owners can still enjoy the changes in the leather itself (it gets smoother, more elastic in time). And of course this sort of change in leather is more obvious for lighter colors, specially when the leather item is not dyed at all. The natural oiled finish is in many ways the most interesting finish of them all.
Colors that stick onto the surface of the leather
Just a little additional information: there is a range of dyes available that stick onto the leather surface. It is probable, that this sort of dye would rub off or crack in time – specially on items which get lots of everyday usage. So in my opinion these are better suited for leather goods that are decorative in nature (and I don’t mean here fancy watch straps or bracelets that get worn every day).
In the other hand – if I wouldn’t use these dyes for large surfaces but just to give a little more extra color for some painted image or pattern on top of the sinking dye, then even if it would rub off in time, the overall look would be still nice, aesthetically acceptable as the color under the decorative little dot or stripe would be the one that doesn’t rub off. And they are ideal for this sort of small accents as in this range there are no limits for color options or mixing them to get even more tones.