If leathers were career types, ostrich would be your fashionista. Ostrich is considered high class leather, and has left its quill-laden mark on some of the world’s most trendy avenues. As you may have have guessed, ostrich is tremendously popular in fashion, garnering an immediate cult following with trendy ostrich feather hats, sassy handbags, and elegant boots and footwear. Yet the Ostrich monarch’s momentum could not be sated here. This exotic leather’s unique look and texture has led its crusade on endless additional conquests, including skate culture, auto leather, and even sports footwear. Wherever Queen Ostrich struts her dazzling plumage, a tidal wave of fashion revolution seems to follow.
Don’t get the ostrich wrong though. She’s not just a pretty face. Apart from her abnormally flexible and soft hide, ostrich leather is one of the sturdiest, strongest leathers in the world. Her hide is naturally filled with oils, giving her an unusual resistance to cracking and stiffness. One of the best things about this leather is how easy it is to maintain. To the envy of pretty much every other supermodel out there, ostrich does not need to spend endless hours poring over tiny details to get her face straight. She’s just naturally good looking. And she’ll get even better looking as the years go by if she’s treated with the proper ostrich leather care she deserves.
Fuss and Feathers
There are generally two types of ostrich leathers you’ll encounter: full quill and smooth quill. With full quill, you’re going to get ostrich leather in its purest form. The hide is naturally filled with numerous socket indentations that once held the ostrich’s quills. It looks sort of like the leather has goosebumps, or borrowed a few texture ideas from a Nestle Crunch Bar – except the marks possess a more even and structured visage, creating a pattern pleasant to the eye and very unique as leather goes. Anyway, you’ll get this pattern the whole nine yards with full quill ostrich leather and is considered the stronger and higher quality leather between the two types (and more expensive). Smooth quill, on the other hand, carries less of these indentations, but possesses a shinier, dressier look and feel. The absence of the indentations provides smooth quill with an aptly smoother and suppler touch, like the kind you could imagine yourself rubbing your face into when nobody's looking. We don't judge.
It should be noted that both types are very strong and versatile, and it's just that versatility makes each of them the envy of many hides. Depending on which type you have, you may need to adapt your ostrich leather care routine depending on what they receive best. Regardless, ostrich leather shouldn't be too difficult to keep up with.
Ruffle That Plumage
First thing to remember with ostrich leather is that, while more resistant to elements than other leather breeds, the elements still affect it. Because most ostrich finishes are transparent, prolonged exposure under sunlight will fade your leather over time, and heat can dry it out fast. Instead, it’s best to keep your ostrich leather in a cool, dry place when not being used, and covered in a clean box or dust bag to prevent dust settlement. You will want to avoid exposing your ostrich leather to situations where she’ll get spills or wet, but when that inevitable oversight strikes, remove as much moisture as you can by dabbing it up with a soft, dry cloth. Remember: blot, don't smear. If there is a stain, use a damp cloth when blotting to transfer the substance, and wipe the rest of the leather with another damp cloth to ensure the item dries evenly. Take care of any stains sooner rather than later, before they can set in. If an oil or grease stain does set in, no worries! You’ll want to sprinkle talcum powder over the stain to absorb the oil, and wait about an hour. Brush the powder away with a soft cloth (not a brush or paper product), and the stain should be gone. Huzzah!
At some point, it is also a good idea to give your ostrich a proper leather cleaning, ideally every other week. Don’t use any soaps or solvents – exotic leather, and leather in general, doesn’t do very well with those, which you can read about in our blog “Common Leather Care Mistakes.”
Depending on what you are using your ostrich leather for, you may want to clean off excess dirt and dust with a soft cloth prior to cleaning it. If you are working with boots, for example, they may have a lot of mud caked on them which will make cleaning difficult. When the surplus is gone, wipe the surface of your leather gently and evenly with a damp cloth, and allow it to dry indoors in a cool place away from sunlight and direct heat. If the leather is still dirty, you will need to find a suitable cleaner. Veer away from commercial leather cleaners and leather conditioners as a rule of thumb with exotic leather and ostrich leather care. Instead, try to find a leather cleaner specifically designed for exotic leather, and test it before you begin. Wipe a small amount in a discreet area of the leather, and watch its result after it dries. If there is no discoloration or other problem, your cleaner should be good. Wipe it evenly across the entire surface, and then wipe off any excess leather cleaner with a dry cloth. Let the leather dry indoors naturally in the aforementioned cool, indoors area away from sunlight and direct heat. If you are in a hurry, a fan can be used to speed up the process.
Strut Your Stuff
After you have cleaned your ostrich leather, you’ll need to condition it. Perform the same test you used to test your leather cleaner, and if it takes without discoloration or any other problem, use it on it whole item. A good leather conditioner to try for finished ostrich leather is Chamberlain’s Leather Care Liniment No. 1. If you are unsure what finished and unfinished leather are, check out our blog “Leather Care for Finished and Unfinished Leather Furniture.” When you have found your leather conditioner, gently stroke it across ostrich evenly and in thin layers, and let it dry completely. After your leather absorbs the conditioner (usually about fifteen minutes), buff it off with a clean cloth, and pat yourself on the back. She looks beautiful!
Ser Daniel of the Suttons
Lord Tom of House Barrington (www.tombarrington.com)
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