I was wondering if anyone can give me some info on dying techniques for polar bear and ostrich feathers? I've heard that the polar should be soaked in acetone for a couple of minutes to remove the natural oils. Any recommended dyes? What about the cleaning of the ostrich feather? Any good books?
08-06-2003, 05:22 PM
I dyed some polarbear a coho blue colour using kool-aid. I washed and steeped the hair in warm water and dish washing liquid. I was satisfied with the results. There are numerous sites on the web that relate to using kool-aid as an enviro friendly method of dying.
08-06-2003, 08:59 PM
Never use acetone to degrease feathers or fur prior to dying!! It distroys protein molecules.
When dying feathers or fur (including tails from various animals we use in fly tying), add some clear Ivory dish detergent, venpol (available from Veniards suppliers) or Synthrapol (synthrapol was formulated at both a degreaser and a dye dispersent specifically for dying and as such is the best degreasing agent to use) into the dye bath. This degreases the material being dyed and helps keep any grease suspended in the dye bath, which promotes even dying and vibrant colors. Synthrapol is by far the best degreaser to use because its dye dispersent properties prevent splotchiness and thus helps produce nice, vibrant, even dye results.
Dyes to use for feathers and fur should always be acid dyes because they are colorfast is water, Koolaid is not colorfast in water and will wash out with use. REmember that the acid needed for dying is nothing more than common household white vinegar, which is hardly a toxic substance.
Brands of dyes that are readily available in the 1 once or smaller quantities home dyers of fly tying material need are: Fly Dye (one of my favorites, with colors described in normal fly tying terms); Veniard (some colors are unpredictable; but hot orange, fl. pink, and Kingfisher blue are some of the best you can get); Jacquard ( my other favorite, and it is available at many craft supply stores around the country); and the dyes sold by E. Hill Co., Inc (a fly material supplier). There are other very fine acid dyes on the market but they are harder to locate unless you go to the manufacturer and buy the minimum 1/2 pound or 1 pound of dye manufacturers require you to purchase (trust me, a 1/2 pound of dye would be like the average fly tyer buying 4 pounds of marabou in one color!!).
08-06-2003, 09:35 PM
Sorry Flytyer, Kool_Aid is colorfast if you add some vinegar to the mix. I have been using it for several years with nary a problem.
I too have been using koolaid for a number of years to dye my polarbear. I have found it to be colourfast with the addition of vinegar to the mix. Ninety-nine percent of the time the results are good . I find it helps to have the whitest hair you can find to start with . This makes a huge improvement in the intensity of the colours.
Thanks for the info everyone. I used a little vinegar with the coolaid and it seems to stick fine to the polar bear. I haven't tried to work on the ostrich yet. I'll try the same dyes but how do I clean the ostrich feathers ? Do I also have to bleach the natural dark ones before I can dye them.
08-09-2003, 08:58 PM
Like is said in a previous post on this thread, you have three choices for cleaning any feather or fur for dying: 1) use clear Ivory dish Detergent; 2) use Veniard's Venpol; or 3) use Synthrapol. Synthrapol is best followed in order by Venpol and lastly Ivory Clear Dish Detergent. Wash the material in a bath of the Synthrapol (or one of the others) and rinse it throughly in cool water. Then place some Synthrapol (or the others) in the dye bath itself to keep any gease and dirt suspended and also to promote even dying of the material.
Yes, you must bleach dark colored materials in order to dye them unless you are looking for a specific overdye color (I do not recommend newcomers to dying do overdying or mixing of colors). And you can nevery use household or other clorine bleaches to bleach feathers or fur because it will dissolve it and ruin it. You must use 20% Peroxide (available only at beauty supply shops, not drugstores) and Lady Clairol Professional Hair Lightener (again this is only available at beauty supply stores). Mix the Peroxide and the hair lightner according to the directions on the hair lightener box and you can bleach virtually any material to a very light tan or ecru, which can then be dyed narly6 any color you desire except for very light egg-shell blues, very light pinks, or light yellow.
And use acid dyes for your dying because they have been formulated specifically for use with protein-based materials and acid dyes will always dye to exhaustion (meaning all or nearly the dye is absorbed by the material with little or none left. The acid dyes allow you to simply put the material in the dye bath and do nothing for 25 to 30 minutes. At which time, the material is dyed and the dye bath can be dumped into a colander for draining and rinsing in cool water.
09-08-2003, 04:15 PM
Any detergent will act as a surfactant in the dye bath which is why you add it to the bath. You only need a few drops particularly if you are using a household detergent. Too much and you will get a lot of suds Woolite & Synthrapol are also very good and low sudsing. The materials ought to be as clean as possible before going into the dye bath. Again, most any detergent will work and warm water will also loosen oils. Soaking hair overnight will help open the pores so they will take up the dye a bit faster and deeper.
Ostrich will not take high heat well so keep an eye on the dye bath temp. The barbules are very fragile and will curl easily. Polar Bear hair will take heat but the skin could be damaged with excessive heat. Long & low heat on these substrates is best. Keep agitating during the dying process and keep feathers & fur off the bottom of the dye pot where the heat is highest. At high heat (boiling), the protein in the feathers & fur become almost liquid (not like water of course) to the point that deformation can occur (curl). Solid hair like Polar Bear takes dye slowly and I find that a more concentrated dye bath makes a better dyed hair. Feathers take up dye quickly.
For very greasy skins you can soak them in paint thinner and it will leach much of the oil out. A couple good washings after that treatment will get rid of the odor.
There is a book by AK Best called "Dying & Bleaching Natural Fly Tying Materials" and he gives a pretty good overview of the process.
You can use regular Hydrogen Peroxide & water at a 50/50 mix to bleach feathers & fur. Too long tends to damage though so keep an eye on it. The beauty shop strength bleaches are quite "hot" and can get away from you if you don't watch them closely. Any of them also dissolve protein to some degree and the hotter strength can dissolve the skin. A few drops of detergent won't hurt as a surfactant here as well.
It is wise to do tests of the dye before putting your materials into the bath. This is particularly true if you are blending colors. Just use a feather or in the case of Ostrich, a barb or two to see what the final color will be. The colors look darker when wet so you will have to dry them to see the actual color. A hair dryer will facilitate this.