Dyeing Feathers Part Two
Yesterday I worked with food colors to dye my feathers and
today I went to find some Rit dyes my daughter, Kim had given me
awhile back after she got through with a project she did. I put
them in the craft supplies and forgot all about them until today.
These dyes have been around here a long time and I have no clue if these colors are still available, but it is what I had in my stash, so they are my experimental dyes. The colors are dark green, purple, wine and royal blue.
We are avid recyclers and my daughter Kim and I have built this house together over the past seven years since my husband died. Yesterday was the seventh year anniversary of his death. This is not the first house I have actively built. The first one I built with my husband thirty-five years ago when Kim was four years old. We wanted a house at that time but my husband who was seventeen years older than myself, did not want any house payments at his time of life. He was in his early forties at that time. Instead we went overseas where he worked on offshore drilling rigs and I saved hard so he did not have to work for awhile and we could build a house together with the money we saved.
One of our glass recycling bins.
Kim designed this house and it has a purpose for our future. It will be a Bed & Breakfast establishment and a school for millinery and other special crafts. The pantry is a huge room and Kim who is the main builder, built wonderful shelving down both sides. On one side at the bottom, she made the shelving to fit four recycling bins we had picked up at 75% off, for $2 each at that time.
Kim had never been involved in the building that my husband did over the years since she was a small child, but when she was working in the corporate world designing computer data bases, she decided she wanted to change her life and do something that would make her happy. For her, making a good salary wasn’t as important as being happy. When we knew my husband was ill, we joined forces to change both our futures. It has been a lot of sheer hard work and there is a lot more to do. Unfortunately, my health has stopped me avidly helping her these days, much to my chagrin. Now I have decided that the best thing I can do is work on my business. So she has to work hard to complete this house on her own. She is the plumber, electrician, builder, A/C heat installer cabinet maker and everything else. I can’t tell you how proud I am of her.
Now on to dyeing feathers.
I had been saving these cute little jars for a long time, and because they
are so cute, they never made it to the recycling station in Brenham. This is the closest recycling center to us, fifteen miles away.
I made labels for the front of the jars, opened the packets of dye and
put the powder dye in them. I first thought of putting the label on the lids but the lids could easily be mixed up and the powder dye didn’t look like the colors they were when wet.
When Kim and I joined forces, we wound up with double everything, including these measuring spoons. I took one set to keep for my craft projects and will use the smallest 1/8″ tsp to measure the powder dyes. It does not matter what measurement you use, just pick something and be consistent.
I made labels for each of the four color dyes and put them on the front of
the jars. I started out using two measurements of the dye and marked it
on my label.
After measuring the original colors from the packets, I took two dyes and added I measurement of each color. Here you can see what I did. The center jar is the new mix.
I wound up with eight colors to begin making my color chart.
I filled each jar with cold water, to the top as shown. You are supposed to add hot water, but I wanted to use a method where I could reuse my dyes at any time.
In my feather dye experiment, part one, I used a frying pan with water that I heated the cold water jars in. It worked well, so I did the same here. The only thing I did wrong was not think that the labels on the front of the bottles would get wet at the bottom. Make sure your labels are high up on the jars to avoid this problem. I will redo mine when the jars are cold.
I used my small finger to do a heat test in one bottle and when hot enough I turned the stove heat off. For this experiment I am using white goose feathers which I already had plenty and they are very inexpensive to play with. I stuffed one feather in each jar, tip down, and then pushed them down with a fork. I don’t have tongs small
enough to use in these jars, but they would be better. By putting the feathers tip first, if the ends aren’t quite dyed, they won’t show on my fascinators or hats because I often trim off the bottom.
After a minute or so, I pulled out the feather out of each jar, laid it on paper towel and lifted the jar out with a heat protected glove and put it beside the feather. I would never have remembered which one was which, if I did not stay organized. Then I left them to cool and air dry. I started this blog so that I did not mess with them, because I am quite excited by this project and my patience is short.
How to make a feather color guide.
If you are a serious milliner, then the time you have taken to do this project, will be worthwhile in the future.
NOW I AM EXCITED ABOUT DYEING FEATHERS!
When the goose feathers dried, they were easy to fluff up. What was
so exciting was the variance of shading that was achieved by dyeing
my feathers. On the back row are the feathers I dyed with 2 scoops of
the original dye colors. The front row is where I mixed colors.
Now to make my chart.
This is a very simple method. I used page sized white card stock and
put the name of the feather type at the top and the size of the measurement.
I broke the spine of each feather so that they would lay flat and used
Cello tape to hold them down. Then I wrote the color and measurement
under each feather. Each page held six feathers.
My thoughts on colors.
Top left, 2 wine red gives a lovely old red color, very suitable for vintage hats.
Top right, 2 royal blue is a lovely blue, yet not the garish blue as I have in purchased feathers.
Second left, 2 purple is a lovely shade of pink purple.
Second right, 2 dark green. Now this one was the shocker as it turned out grey. I think had it been an emerald green it would be right, but obviously black was added to turn it dark green. I will now double up on the color and evaluate and let you know if that works, in part three of feather dyeing.
Bottom left, 1 wine, 1 purple I love because it turned out like a deep Victorian
Bottom right, 1 dark green, 1 wine, I also loved because it turned out dusky pink.
This blog will not give you a real insight into the shade or color, so you will have to try dyeing feathers yourself to appreciate the difference.
Top left, 1 purple, 1 royal blue makes a richer blue/purple shade
vastly different than the original purple which has pink hues.
Top right, 1 dark green, 1 royal blue, is also quite lovely as a steel
colored grey. (It has a pink glow) This is another Victorian color.
I put the two sheets, back to back in a clear pocket ready to go in a ring binder. It will keep my feather chart free of dust and on hand for when I want to dye several feathers at a time for a project to match fabric I have on hand.
What do I really think of dyeing feathers now?
I am ecstatic with the Rit dye method because I have complete control
of color dyeing in the future. Every piece I add to my chart will be worth the time saved in future, and this method makes it easy to keep records. I can pull out my unused dye in a jar and dye more feathers whenever I wish and make the exact color when I need more.
LUV IT, LUV IT, LUV IT.
The artist in me is now satisfied!
Now watch out for Part Three of Feather Dyeing. It may take a couple
of days as I need to make a trip into Houston to buy more Rit dye.