Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How To: Dye Feathers

Dried by Morning
I've had this idea in my head for an ombre feather piece for a while. I could not,however, find the right color and look on any feather vendor's sites. So I looked it up on YouTube and thanks to the high demand for feather extensions there were a few DIY tutorials.

What you'll need:
Rit dye
Distilled white vinegar
Feathers (dont have to be white, but should be clean)
bowl of plain cool water

How to:
• I used Rit's fushia color (i didn't have the patience to order the Jaquard acid dye that was recommended for feathers. Fly Dye was also one mentioned but I have yet to find a link for this)
• I brought a small pot with one part vinegar and one part water to a rolling boil then added a table spoon of dye to the water and stirred for 10 seconds and turned down the heat.
• I also had a container of plain cool water beside to stove for rinsing.
• With a gloved hand I dipped or dropped the feather into the dye and stirred for upto 15 seconds or less . It really depended on how dark I wanted it.
• I fished out the feather with a plastic fork and dropped it into the water to rinse. If it was too light I would dip it back in the pot of dye.
• Not sure if it helped but I would carefully take the feather out of the rinse by its quill so as to keep the plume smooth.
Wet Feathers
• I then laid them smoothly on a paper towel to dry and when I was done dyeing all of them I took another towel and pressed it on top to make sure they were not drenched.
• After 15 minutes I rubbed apart some of the plumage with my thumb and middle finger to make sure they dried all the way through and smooth.

What I learned: that there are dyes specially for animal product (i.e. Wool, feathers, silk) and there are dyes for plant product (i.e. Cotton). Rit dye is available almost everywhere and it mentions everything from silks to nylon.  I personally found that the colors were pretty vibrant and easy to control. So I will be using it again in the future. There were a few variations of techniques the ranged from very professional to just for crafts which I list below. Like Goldylocks I found a technique that was just right for me.

Here are the videos I watched on YouTube:
I basically used this technique the most : EscapeNormal
This was interesting but she used food color: SherryWolfe
And this one gave me ideas for drying larger feathers and showed me how resilient feathers can be: BlueWhaleArts

Let me know how yours come out. Send me a photo or let me know what techniques you use.
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