Techniques . Feathers
How to Dye Feathers
Rit can turn natural white feathers into colorful design accents for holiday decorations, party favors, centerpieces, masks and fashion accessories. We’ve found feathers look best when dyed in pretty pastel or bright colors, just make sure they’re not synthetic. (Rit does not dye certain synthetics like polyester, see more here.) These same instructions can be used to dye deer hair, which is often used to make flies for fly-fishing.
- White natural feather quills
- Rit Dye, liquid or powder
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Plastic or glass container
- Large metal spoon
- Metal tongs
- Rubber gloves
- Paper towels
- Plastic table cover
Step by Step
Cover work surface with a plastic table cover.
Feathers must be clean. Wash gently in warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly. If feathers were purchased in a craft store, this is not necessary.
Wearing rubber gloves, shake dye bottles. Use ¼ cup liquid dye or ½ package (1 tablespoon) powder dye with 1 quart very hot water (140 F), not boiling. For dark colors, use more dye. Pour into dye container; stir well. Make sure container is large enough to hold feathers. Do not add salt or vinegar to dye bath.
Immerse feathers in dye bath. Gently stir feathers until they are a shade darker than desired because the color appears darker when wet. Dyeing could take as little as 2-5 minutes. Use a longer dyeing time for dark colors.
Remove feathers and rinse carefully in warm water. Spread feathers on paper towels to air dry. Do not attempt to dry with heat as this will cause them to become dry and brittle. To help keep the shape of feathers, avoid excessive handling.
If feathers seem to have lost their shape, they can be fluffed up when they are completely dry.