Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How to dye chicken & guinea feathers

Easter is almost here and as I look at my list of crafts I want to make I notice one thing: I'm going to need a lot of feathers. Not just any feathers though, multicolored ones! With 80 assorted poultry is residence I have plenty of feathers it's just a matter of getting them the color I want. Obviously I'm going to have to dye them, but how? So glad you asked, because I have 2 different feather dying methods that I decided to try out today.


How to dye feathers

I started with mostly guinea feathers. Those are the black and white polka dotted ones.  I also threw a few white ones in the mix for variety.....I think a few others got through too. I collected my supplies: boiling water, white vinegar, a glass baking pan, stirring spoon, Kool-aid in various flavors, food coloring and dish soap in an extra bowl.

how to dye feathers organic

First, put the water on to boil and dump a packet of Kool-aid in the glass baking pan. 

Mix a few drops of dish soap with some warm water in a bowl in the sink. Take a handful of feathers and swish them through the soapy water making sure they are completely wet. This helps to break down the natural oils in the feathers and makes them ready to accept the dye. Rinse in cool water then squeeze gently to remove excess water. Set them aside on a clean towel. 

After the water starts boiling pour 3/4 cup boiling water in the baking pan. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar and mix. Add feathers and agitate with a spoon. Let the feathers sit in the dye mixture until just slightly darker then the desired color. Remove from dye and rinse with cool water. Lay flat on paper towels to dry. (or the dog's towel....I totally stole her towel right out of the dryer! lol) If after rinsing you decide the feathers are too light you can put them back in the dye bath for awhile longer.

This method works very well except I didn't like that I couldn't really change the intensity of the color. You can use the exact same method except use the liquid food colors instead of the Kool-aid. With this method you can mix colors to make all kinds of different shades. I also found that you can add a few drops of food coloring to the Kool-aid if you need just a bit more color. It's the vinegar that helps it absorb....so as long as you have that and the boiling water you're pretty much free to experiment. Cool, right? 

I did try the Rit dye method. It worked, however it took much longer for the feathers to get to the desired color (like hours longer) and at about $3 a bottle it was much more expensive. Kool-aid is usually about $.20 a packet and I buy the liquid food coloring in a box of 4 at the dollar store.

You can let the feathers air dry naturally, or use a blow dryer set on low to dry them. I'm impatient, I dried mine. I used free range chicken and Guinea feathers but you can buy a big ole bag of white craft feathers and dye them also. Whatever you have will work. I tend to pick up every 'perfect' Guinea feather that I see laying on the ground so I always have a supply. Have fun with it. Make pretty  colors! Best of all...make awesome Easter crafts and come back to show me what you made! 

Have fun!
~L

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