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Hardyrod1974

Dyeing bucktails

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I want to try dyeing some bucktails.
I've deboned them, washed thoroughly and the skin is very dry right now.
I know you can use Rit dye, I'd like to find out which is best- the liquid or the powder?
Any hints on doing this?
I cannot afford the buy AK Best's book on dyeing and bleaching, so I hope to get some help here.
Thank you in advance
Richard

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May I ask if you dried the inner flesh out with Borax or something similar ?

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I've used RIT powder on deer body hair and horse hair; it worked fine in dark olive, brown, burnt orange, that sort of color. Didn't work well in yellow. I assume the same would hold true for bucktail. 

I do stovetop, 4 quart batch (small), all purpose powder. Here is the RIT resource I use for how much dye, how much water, color recipes and ratio / conversion charts:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.ritdye.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Rit-Dye-Color-Formulas-Guide.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwiK5N2Nk_DqAhVKhq0KHRnIAfMQFjAAegQIAhAC&usg=AOvVaw24ClSR7s7LmUFLtTjZ0MLT

Pay attention to the ratio instructions there, all details.

Basic procedure:

1. clean it first with Dawn, deep clean it. (Which you say you've already done) Keep it in very warm water while you ready the dye bath.

2. Use a dedicated stainless steel pot (and nitrile gloves if you don't want your fingers to change color; I don't use gloves and get weird looking fingers for a few days). If you spill it will permanently stain countertops, etc. (I am careful but recklessly use the kitchen.)

3. Add 1/4 cup of vinegar and a few drops of Dawn to the water before putting deer in

4. After putting deer in, keep heat to near steaming, 20-30 minutes or so, without ever boiling, until deer is a shade darker than you want.

5. Keep the deer submerged the whole time, and agitate the hair gently so the dye gets to the whole tail

6. When done, rinse it in cold water (I go outside and use the hose, so I don't stain the sink or splash the counter). Dry it on newspaper overnight, then blow dry it on low heat. If you leave it wet too long (days) the skin will mold and deteriorate. The skin will harden and curl (if you let it) on a body piece as it dries. 

I don't use a fixative (yet?), but RIT does make one to keep it colorfast for longer. 

You'll have an easier time with conversions / ratios if you use the liquid. I use powder because I found it very cheaply.

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2.5   Sorry, in between step 2 and 3 is putting 4 cups of tap water into the pan, adding the dye (in amounts determined from the RIT pamphlet link), and putting it on the stove. (Keep the deer in a separate bowl of hot sink water while the dye bath heats up to painfully hot.)

2.5.1  With the powder if I'm being methodical I'll put just a little water from the first cup in the pan and add the dye into that to get it thoroughly wet before adding all the water.

Note: The dye-ologist fly guys use acid dye, like Jacquard, and use special acid crystals and special degreasers. Rit is "all purpose" -- for all kinds of natural fibers (they make a different dye for synthetics). Acid dyes are specific to protein fibers, like those found in bucktail and other animal hairs, feathers and furs. If Rit isn't getting it done right for you, a protein-specific acid dye might be a more effective option. But it's a bit bigger leap than buying a box or two of rit from the supermarket. At least to me.

https://www.dharmatrading.com/dyes/jacquard-acid-dyes.html

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I suggest you use Jacquard acid dyes. I'm not a dye-ologist, more of an enthusiastic amateur. As ChugBug indicated, acid dyes bind to protein like hair and feathers. You'll need a heat source, a dye pot (stainless steel or enameled only), a candy thermometer, some cheap measuring cups and measuring spoons. Synthrapol (an odorless colorless detergent designed for cleaning before dyeing) or Dawn detergent. And a small amount of white (distilled) vinegar or "special acid crystals" (citric acid powder). And the dye.

Need to be careful with hides, and some colors. Reds and blues need higher temperatures but can start to cook the skins. Basically for 1 tail or a saddle or cape, use 4-6 cups water, dye - amount for saturated color is about 1/2 ts. Add 1 drop synthrapol or Dawn detergent. Heat to 150F for any color other than red or blue. For red or blue up to 175 F. Once up to temp, turn the heat as low as you can. Oh -wear rubber or nitrile or vinyl gloves since dye will bind to your skin also.  And I recommend you use a camping stove outside or you will banished from the kitchen by "she who must be obeyed". [Chugbug apparently has negotiated a special deal in this regard - I have not]. Note the measuring cups/spoons and dye pot can never again be used for food.

Before this starts, soak the bucktail (or feathers) in warm water with 1-2 drops synthrapol or Dawn, at least 30 minutes. Remove bucktail from this wash solution, and put the bucktail in the dye, stirring. Dye will take some time to bind to the substrate, typically 5-15 minutes, more for bucktail (maybe 30 min). After 5 minutes stir in 1-2 Tablespoons white vinegar. Do NOT put the vinegar on the bucktail, just slowly pour it into the water. Then stir. More of the dye will go into the bucktail, almost immediately. Check the color saturation, and remove the bucktail when it's a little darker than the desired color.  Rinse the bucktail in running COLD water. then towel off and hang it up to dry.

Black dye is a problem child. Some say dye the bucktail orange first, then dye again with black. Also use 2x the dye quantity. Black is best at 150 F max, and use only 1 tablespoon vinegar, or the color will be brownish (with Jacquard acid dye black - other dyes may be different). You can shut the heat off after 15 - 30 minutes and let the bucktail soak for 1-2 hours in the black dye as it cools off. Then the cold water rinse, etc. 

Acid dye is not a bigger leap. The little jars of dye are about $5 (find them on-line) and will do 10 tails or so. 40+ colors available. And for the adventurous you can mix using primaries, or overdye lighter colors to tweak them to the shade you want. Plus there are other manufacturers of acid dyes, like Dharma (sells Dharma and Jacquard). And others like Cushing, ORCO, ProChemical- WashFast.  Larger jars are available from all these manufacturers but are priced by color. 

I've done saddles/capes in these colors: Red, several shades of orange, pink (red using 1/4 ts dye), deep blue, several shades of olive, dark pine green, medium green, pale green, yellow, black, gray-ghost gray (gray, overdyed with olive and green).

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11 hours ago, niveker said:

Thanks for that resource Chug

👍

11 hours ago, niveker said:

What colors have you tried from that guide?

I'm away from home at the moment. I'll have to get back with specifics.

1 hour ago, Ephemerella said:

Acid dye is not a bigger leap. The little jars of dye are about $5

That's what Rit costs, so you are absolutely right, not a bigger leap. Truth be told, I got my Rit on clearance for $1 a packet after hemming and hawing on Jacquard for about a year. Thanks for chiming in there @Ephemerella, I for one hadn't known to put the vinegar in midway through, or about different colors needing different temps. Good info.

 

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Thanks @chugbug27 and @Ephemerella for the added info.  I've got a squirrel skin in the freezer, as well as a very light gray, almost white, mink pelt that I've been wanting to dye.  I'm thinking a golden olive  and maybe a burnt orange, a la Fran Betters. 

Looking forward to seeing the result of your dying, @Hardyrod1974, and pardon the hijack.  

On 2/17/2022 at 5:14 PM, robow7 said:

May I ask if you dried the inner flesh out with Borax or something similar ?

FWIW, I always use Borax for drying skins. 

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Just an fyi,

Terry Hellickson's book Fish Flies has a free sample section now on Kindle that includes a big discussion on dying materials with Rit, as well as a lot of other good info.

The free sample gives away a lot of great stuff, hundreds of e-pages, and the whole e-book is now $2.99.

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