Hey there guys, I'm getting ready to purchase a whole blue-eared pheasant and I'm wondering how I go about dyeing some of the feathers in colors that I want. Also, anyone know where I can get the dye? Thanks
In my experience, you can dye blue ear to dark colors, but not to light like yellow, orange, etc. For that you need a lighter feather like white ear, but those are even harder to come by and more expensive. For dark colors, the standard dyes work fine.
I used to bleach and dye blue eared pheasant for spey hackle and found that if you are going to dye the feathers without first bleaching them you are limited to colors darker than the original feather i.e black, dark brown. I purchased several types of dyes (Veniards, Jacquards and FlyDyes) and preferred the FlyDye products. There are analine acid dyes available from chemical companies but I found the minimum quantities make them prohibitive to purchase. I tried various bleaching processes and found they did not work as well as I expected, especially if you are trying to dye the lighter colors.There is a lot of truth in the adage that the lighter the substrate the brighter the colors. Rich Youngers at Creekside Flyfishing (Salem, Ore) told me about a bleaching process he had used and it worked very well (Very bright colors and minimal feather damage) The other alternative is to buy a white eared pheasant and although more expensive the feathers will accept virtually any color. If you cannot get ahold of Rich send me a pm and I'll go over the bleaching process with you.
Best of luck,
Speycaster, have you tried bleaching them before and then trying to dye them light colors? If there is no possible way of dyeing them light colors I may not even buy the skin. I would think there has to be a way because you can buy blue-eared in all sorts of colors at fly shops.
As others have mentioned, a white eared pheasant is the way to go. The more white the original substrate, the brighter the dyed color and the wider the range of colors you can successfully dye. I too use the FlyDye products and find that they do an excellent job.
here is a quick shot of the brilliant colors FlyDye dyestuffs can produce on a white substrate.
the process I have been using to bleach blue eared pheasant to a suitable color to dye the brighter shades is as follows.
Clairol 2 hair lightner (powder form) you can get from any salon.
20 volume peroxide which will be sitting right next to it. Mix the two together until you get the consistancy of paste. Wet the feathers and put them into the mixture. In about 15 to 20 minutes they will turn the color of straw, give them a few more minutes and you will get a color suitable to dye some very bright vibrant light shades with very minimul damage to the feather itself. Very much the process one would use to put highlights in there hair(blonde to white). It is hard to beat natural white eared pheasant but it not easy to find and can be very expensive for a skin. You might give this a try on a couple feathers to see if it will work for you.
The tan color remaining after bleaching is caused by iron and somewhere I read an article on how to remove it to get to white before dyeing. However, as was mentioned every such proceedure can cause damage to the feather fibers so you must do these bleaching steps with care.
The final light straw color Highlander2 mentioned as what you get from bleaching (and the method he described is the easiest and best for any protein material, which is what hair, fur, and feathers are made of) has minimal effect on the color you get when you then dye over feathers, hair, or fur so bleached. The effect is so minimal, that unless you are trying to get a very pale yellow, orange, pink (so-called powder pink), or blue, you will not notice it at all in the finished dyed product.
Using the Lady Clairol hair lightener and 20 volume peroxide is method is very easy and takes very little time, just remember to wear protective gloves when you do it and rinse the bleached materials well in clear, running water.
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