Weejun Project - Where to go from here?

cpchester

Starting Member
I have a pair of burgundy Bass Weejuns that I've worn for about two years. The plastic-y finish starting bothering me more, and after reading some old threads on here I tried the rubbing alcohol tip to dull the finish.

Perhaps in some places I rubbed too hard and got through the dye down to the natural leather fairly easily on one. So I just decided to go whole hog and try taking as much of the dye as I can off. It took a lot of elbow grease to get to this point on just one of them. So far I've used some acetone and even some Comet to get it to this state. My question is, what should I do from here? I don't think I'll get much more off. Should I re-dye the leather with a dark brown or burgundy dye? Or use a dark shoe cream? No idea what they will look like after all of this but it's worth a shot!
 

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TKI67

Elite Member
I have a pair of burgundy Bass Weejuns that I've worn for about two years. The plastic-y finish starting bothering me more, and after reading some old threads on here I tried the rubbing alcohol tip to dull the finish.

Perhaps in some places I rubbed too hard and got through the dye down to the natural leather fairly easily on one. So I just decided to go whole hog and try taking as much of the dye as I can off. It took a lot of elbow grease to get to this point on just one of them. So far I've used some acetone and even some Comet to get it to this state. My question is, what should I do from here? I don't think I'll get much more off. Should I re-dye the leather with a dark brown or burgundy dye? Or use a dark shoe cream? No idea what they will look like after all of this but it's worth a shot!
I'd ask a good cobbler.
 

TKI67

Elite Member
1. Take your shoes to a qualified professional. You could use their expertise, and they could use your business. It's what money is for.

2. Buy yourself a pair of Alden LHS (Leisure Hand Sewn) loafers.
Amen. Check factory seconds at Shoe Mart. I love the CXL LHS, and the savings were significant.

Your Weejun project reminds me of cutting up a pair of Weejuns to make sandals in 1966.
 

cpchester

Starting Member
The point of this was to have fun and experiment. I had good use of these shoes and can afford to mess them up if that's what happens. Plenty of other loafers in my wardrobe. There are many old threads here where people have had varying levels of success in what I am doing here with stripping and refinishing corrected grain shoes. "Buy Aldens" or "go to a professional" isn't the point here at all - it's also insulting and utterly unhelpful. How do you know I don't have some Aldens in my closet? The point of this is to see what's possible and try it myself. Thanks.
 
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TKI67

Elite Member
The point of this was to have fun and experiment. I had good use of these shoes and can afford to mess them up if that's what happens. Plenty of other loafers in my wardrobe. There are many old threads here where people have had varying levels of success in what I am doing here with stripping and refinishing corrected grain shoes. "Buy Aldens" or "go to a professional" isn't the point here at all - it's also insulting and utterly unhelpful. How do you know I don't have some Aldens in my closet? The point of this is to see what's possible and try it myself. Thanks.
Then have fun.
 

Corcovado

Senior Member
The point of this was to have fun and experiment. I had good use of these shoes and can afford to mess them up if that's what happens. Plenty of other loafers in my wardrobe. There are many old threads here where people have had varying levels of success in what I am doing here with stripping and refinishing corrected grain shoes. "Buy Aldens" or "go to a professional" isn't the point here at all - it's also insulting and utterly unhelpful. How do you know I don't have some Aldens in my closet? The point of this is to see what's possible and try it myself. Thanks.

Maybe because it's your very first post on this forum?

Good luck.
 

cpchester

Starting Member
Maybe because it's your very first post on this forum?

Good luck.
What is that some sort of prerequisite to making a post? I need to disclose every brand in my wardrobe? This post had nothing to do with Aldens - you felt the need to bring it into the conversation, not me.
 
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Corcovado

Senior Member
What is that some sort of prerequisite to making a post? I need to disclose every brand in my wardrobe? Jeez.

No, not at all. It's just the answer to the question that you posed. Your very first post on this forum involves putting a lot of time and effort into a pair of medium-quality shoes. There is no reason for anybody to suspect that you're someone with a deep knowledge of shoes, and there's no reason for you to take umbrage at the suggestion that you invest your money in Aldens rather that dump your time and effort into a pair of Bass Weejuns. It's not a matter of snobbery. It's just plain, old-fashioned frugality that leads me to suggest that you buy Aldens. I'm truly sorry if I offended you. Cheers.
 

Patrick06790

Connoisseur
Dye them. I did it once, it worked out pretty well. I used Fiebing's dye on a pair of corrected grain Weejuns I picked up at a thrift shop. This was several years ago so I can't remember all the details except the dye was quite dark, not black but getting there, and at first I thought it would be streaky but after they dried they looked fine. I still wear them once in a while.
 

drpeter

Super Member
Since you are experimenting: I don't know if you checked out Youtube videos on the subject of stripping and re-dyeing shoes, but I recollect seeing several not too long ago. Generally good advice from cobblers and cordwainers on the details and also on various products. Here's an example (not loafers), but you can find others, I'm sure:


It's also a bit surprising to me that you found the Weejuns had a plastic-y finish. I have had several pairs of Bass Weejuns (all made in the US), and recently picked up a very nice mint pair at a thrift shop for $10, also US-made. None of the pairs I have owned, including the pair I just found, have that plastic-y look. They've all had a deep, rich burgundy leather, soft to the feel, not plastic-like at all. But i suppose there can be exceptions, badly-manufactured pairs, and so on.

I like Bass Weejuns, mainly because they look good, are comfortable, wear well, and have a long history of being made in this country. They are not very expensive and are also fairly iconic to those within the Trad or TNSIL persuasion. If I am not mistaken, GH Bass was the first company to adapt the Norwegian style to make penny loafers back in the thirties. North American Indians, Lapps and Norwegians are all involved in its history.
 

Eligius

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Since you are experimenting: I don't know if you checked out Youtube videos on the subject of stripping and re-dyeing shoes, but I recollect seeing several not too long ago. Generally good advice from cobblers and cordwainers on the details and also on various products. Here's an example (not loafers), but you can find others, I'm sure:


It's also a bit surprising to me that you found the Weejuns had a plastic-y finish. I have had several pairs of Bass Weejuns (all made in the US), and recently picked up a very nice mint pair at a thrift shop for $10, also US-made. None of the pairs I have owned, including the pair I just found, have that plastic-y look. They've all had a deep, rich burgundy leather, soft to the feel, not plastic-like at all. But i suppose there can be exceptions, badly-manufactured pairs, and so on.

I like Bass Weejuns, mainly because they look good, are comfortable, wear well, and have a long history of being made in this country. They are not very expensive and are also fairly iconic to those within the Trad or TNSIL persuasion. If I am not mistaken, GH Bass was the first company to adapt the Norwegian style to make penny loafers back in the thirties. North American Indians, Lapps and Norwegians are all involved in its history.
It sounds like you may have only their vintage products. I believe most (or all?) of their loafers are no longer made in the US, and I have seen many write of their plastic-like finish.

I like the science project aspect of this. I was going to question what would be improved by doing all this work on a lower quality shoe, but I can see from Patrick's response that just getting rid of the plastic finish with as re-dye is a plus. Why does Bass even finish their shoes this way?
 

cpchester

Starting Member
Since you are experimenting: I don't know if you checked out Youtube videos on the subject of stripping and re-dyeing shoes, but I recollect seeing several not too long ago. Generally good advice from cobblers and cordwainers on the details and also on various products. Here's an example (not loafers), but you can find others, I'm sure:


It's also a bit surprising to me that you found the Weejuns had a plastic-y finish. I have had several pairs of Bass Weejuns (all made in the US), and recently picked up a very nice mint pair at a thrift shop for $10, also US-made. None of the pairs I have owned, including the pair I just found, have that plastic-y look. They've all had a deep, rich burgundy leather, soft to the feel, not plastic-like at all. But i suppose there can be exceptions, badly-manufactured pairs, and so on.

I like Bass Weejuns, mainly because they look good, are comfortable, wear well, and have a long history of being made in this country. They are not very expensive and are also fairly iconic to those within the Trad or TNSIL persuasion. If I am not mistaken, GH Bass was the first company to adapt the Norwegian style to make penny loafers back in the thirties. North American Indians, Lapps and Norwegians are all involved in its history.
The Weejuns I have were made in El Salvador, where they have been assembled for some time now. I believed they closed their USA factory in the late 90s. If I recall they did do some "made in Maine" editions a few years back made by Rancourt, but those were more of a special edition vs. the standard.
 

drpeter

Super Member
I suspected as much
The Weejuns I have were made in El Salvador
I suspected as much. As Eligius suggests, all of the Weejuns I have now (about five) are either Made in USA or Made in Maine, USA -- maybe the latter kind were the Rancourt models that you mention. I think when manufacture went overseas, quality control may have gone overboard, LOL. Cheap labour often results in shoddy goods being produced, it is understandable.

I wish you both fun and good luck in your experimentation. I have thought of doing this type of refinishing with an old pair of beaters, just to see how well I can manage, LOL. My only reluctance is messing with acetone -- I don't have a home with enough air and open space where I can do it. One tip I have seen people here and elsewhere give refinishers -- the Saphir products (Renovateur, etc.) are almost universally recommended in the finishing portion.

LOL, it reminds me of stripping floors in an old Victorian I owned as a young man -- it was hellish work, but when the gorgeous floor was finished -- thin strips of white oak with a golden varnish -- it was worth all that sweat!
 
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Tom S.

New Member
Just a bit of advice that's now obviously too little and too late, but next time try stripping with a good quality saddle soap like Fiebings. I have found it sufficient to remove the "plastic" looking finish without harming the coloring underneath. I use it with an old toothbrush and more water than most would think necessary. Rinse with a damp cloth until all the saddle soap residue is gone. Allow a couple of days to fully dry (with trees in place) and follow with two or three light coats of Lexol to restore moisture and add some depth to the color (allow the Lexol to dry between coats). Then finish off with a couple of coats of good quality shoe polish in a shade that is darker than you really think you need. I have had great luck with this procedure over the years and, despite having a closet full of Alden and Allen Edmond shoes, still enjoy refinishing mid-tier brands just for fun.
Tom
 

drpeter

Super Member
Great advice, Tom S.

I too have numerous Alden and AE shoes, but still like to pick up good mid-level shoes (and even a few AEs, this being Wisconsin) at thrift shops, and refresh them by cleaning and polishing, and occasionally recrafting through a good cobbler. Maybe one of these days I'll try stripping it the way you suggest.
 

Patrick06790

Connoisseur
The other way to dull that corrected grain shine is to wear the Weejuns a lot, especially in the rain. When they are nice and damp and preferably muddy, shove them under the bed and wait several years. When you clean off the accumulated dust and gunk, that plasticky look is significantly diminished.

Don't ask how I know this.
 

TKI67

Elite Member
The other way to dull that corrected grain shine is to wear the Weejuns a lot, especially in the rain. When they are nice and damp and preferably muddy, shove them under the bed and wait several years. When you clean off the accumulated dust and gunk, that plasticky look is significantly diminished.

Don't ask how I know this.
I also remember wearing Weejuns held together and holes plugged by duct tape. I found it FUBAR that those were permitted but white 501s were jeans and therefore not allowed.
 
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