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Thread: Dying feathers

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Adirondacks & Great Lakes Tribs

    Default Dying feathers

    Hey there everybody.
    So I am new to dying feathers, I got myself some acid dyes. I am attempting to dye some rhea feathers, very similar to ostrich herl. At any rate the rhea feathers are natural, but have a grey color to them, given that acid dyes are transparent I've been told the colors won't turn out properly. Some have told me to bleach the feathers first, I don't love that idea. Others have told me to use silk paint as dye given that it's opaque and will cover the natural grey color of the feathers. Does anyone have experience with dying feathers that aren't naturally white? I'm looking for some advice on how to dye these feathers, thanks!
    P.s. I am planning to dye the feathers blue & light blue, both colors of acid dye I already purchased.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Dying feathers

    Staying away from the bleach will be a good idea, it will deteriorate the fine fibers long before it could remove the natural pigments. The pre dyed feathers must be sourced from natural white birds because the acid bath dyes will burn up the fibers also if you were to leave them in long enough to turn gray into a light blue.

    The only feathers I dye are natural white when I begin so I can't answer regarding the gray. Have you ask the people on Spey Pages? Some of those guys are pros at the dying game.


    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

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  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Phoenix, AZ

    Default Re: Dying feathers

    As Ard has said bleaching can be harsh and damage your feathers, experiment/learn with something cheap and easily obtained. I don't know rhea feathers so I can give no direct advice. You already understand an important point, stains are a transparent colour to be added and not like paint. Acid dyes can not dye something to a lighter colour. So given the feathers are a light grey, the base colour will contribute to the final colour. If you want a clean light blue shade I would use white feathers. I don't use blue so I am not sure how it will turn out. Look at online colour wheels for a better understanding of how mixing works. I have dyed grey dun capes and saddles with yellow and greens to get an assortment of olive shades.

    As Ard stated, there are a couple of guys on the Spey Pages that are very good at this. Read post by Flytyer, he is very knowledgeable and helpful.

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  6. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Michigan's U.P.

    Default Re: Dying feathers

    I have no idea but this might help. Dyeing with acid dyes

  7. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Manning, S. C. (formerly MD)

    Default Re: Dying feathers

    I can't answer your question either about dyeing rhea, never tried it. I can agree with what the others have said about bleaching, you'll damage the rhea.

    However, I can also agree that if you dye over any substrate that already has "color" it's not likely to turn out as you desire. I've dyed over many hairs & feathers, and actually like some of the resulting colors where the material already had color to it. I like the "mottled" appearance for my uses. Unless I'm dyeing over white, I hardly ever get the color that the dye is supposed to produce, but that's fine with me.

    Acid dyes are not transparent technically in that it's not simply coating the outer surface of the material. It's not like paint on a flat, hard surface, as darwin has said, as dyes are absorbed into the material. Every material will only absorb a certain amount of the dye, and if there is already pigment present, that will limit further how much dye can be absorbed & the resulting color. Also, should you dye a different material, even one of the same color as the rhea, you may not get the same resulting color with the blue dye.

    IMO, if you want the blue color, you may have to use a different material, such as white ostrich.

    Let us know how it turns out & what you find!
    Remember, no one likes to be behind the big truck, but that's better than being under it!

  8. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Cheyenne, Oklahoma

    Default Re: Dying feathers

    I just now (as in yesterday) found something I really like. I wanted to do some dries with a yellow hackle. Of course I didn't have any. Having been a bass fisherman for years I want out in the shed and got a couple of plastic bottles of "Spike-It" plastic worm dye. I have four colors. Chartreuse, Red, Orange and Blue. I took some white hackle and dipped it in the Chartreuse dye. After a few dips and short soak I took it out and laid it on a paper towel. BEAUTIFUL. Not only did it give me the yellow hackle I wanted (soft muted color) but when I hit it with the UV light it gave a soft UV fluorescence. I then tried a couple of grizzly hackles and same effect. Worked for the all the colors with white or grizzly and need to check it out some more.

    It's a permanent dye as many who've spilled on their bassboat carpet have found out. I also dipped red, then blue and got a kind of neat burgundy. Only tried it on hackle but it seems to be an answer for some of the things I use it for and may just buy a nice white Whiting cape and count on the dyes for other colors. I have a lot of grizzly now and will try more of that.

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