mattpurcell0117

Dying Bucktail - Please Help!

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Gentlemen, 

 

I need your wit and experience to solve my problem.  I am a newb when it comes to dying Bucktail, but I've done a fair bit of research and have experimented many times only to fail over and over.  If anyone has a good way to dye Bucktail, I would love to know.  I have done the following to high quality white bucktails with no reasonable result...

 

Degreasing process:

soak 3 ducktails in synthrapol (1/4 cup) and Johnsons baby shampoo (1/4 cup) in 2.5 gallons of water for 1 day and agitate/swirl/massage by hand intermittently.  Every day I emptied the water and repeated 2 times for a total of 3 degreasing efforts

 

Dying:

I have tried both Jacquard and Veniard acid dyes to the following ~ heated a dye bath of distilled water to 160+ degrees F.  Prior to adding dye to the bath, I dissolved all the dye powder in a beaker with 200 mL of distilled water and then added the solution of dissolved dye to the dye bath of plain distilled water and allowed to equilibrate.  Then I let the water cool to 140 degrees F.  Then I add 2 cups of white vinegar to the bath and let mix for 15-20 min then add the tails that had been rinsed after degreasing as mentioned above.  

 

I have waited for these tails to dye for 12-18 hours in solution and these stupid things are still not getting dyed.  Does anyone have any saving grace/knowledge that could help a guy out?  I really have tried to do my due diligence and research as not to waste anyone's time in responding.  But, I am at my wits end and don't know what to do.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Use the search button in the heading above, dying deer tails, lots of info. Remember only the white hairs will take color.

Edited by XBMX

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13 mins ago, XBMX said:

Use the search button in the heading above, dying deer tails, lots of info. Remember only the white hairs will take color.

well i just learned something new.

what is the reason on only the white taking dye ?

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29 mins ago, XBMX said:

Use the search button in the heading above, dying deer tails, lots of info. Remember only the white hairs will take color.

For sure, I have only used clean white deer tails.  I am not trying to dye anything but pure white tails that have no stains or real imperfections.  After trying the cleaning methods and dying methods above, I get very weak dying results.  The tails don't absorb much dye and look pathetic.  Of note, I have added approximately 200 grains weight of dye to each 10 liter or 2 gallon dye bath.  The water never clears at all and the tails look super pale and without good dye uptake.  

 

Do you think it could still be a degreasing issue?  Is there a specific recommendation to clean or something I'm doing wrong?

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Hmm, I’m not sure why this is such a burden, it’s always been pretty straightforward and simple for me. 

 

Also, all fibers will dye, just the white ones will take on a more apparent form of whatever color you’re using. Think of dying a white shirt versus dying a medium grey/brown shirt. 

 

Here is my method: take a large metal pot, boil enough water to cover whatever I’m dying, usually about 3”-5” of water, then add my dye, bring the water from a boil (this is important as hide/hair can be burnt and compromised from too much heat) down to about 130-150 degrees, put my tails, use something heavy to keep them submerged, and then check them every ten minutes or so to see when I like the color. I’ve noticed they are slightly darker when wet. 

 

I use both kool aid and rit dye in liquid and powder form—they both work well but kool aid seems to attach to the fibers more quickly and end up dying faster. 

 

I attached a recent few things I dyed for some musky flies for a friend. 

E4E65394-2F4C-4CC1-BBCA-6D033EE45DCC.jpeg

Edited by Ftyer

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Also, I have went through all of the dying ducktails/deer tails, dying, and similar kinds of threads on this forum.  I have not found anything that would seemingly shed light on this issue.  I appreciate the thoughts

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Does a boiling heat activate the dye in a way?  I have only taken my dye bath to about 160 degrees before adding dye.  Then I let it cool to 140 degrees prior to adding any tails.  The dye appears to completely dissolve and is not "grainy" on the bottom or anything of the like.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

"12-18 hours in solution " this seems a very long time. I typically simmer the tails in the dye bath for a max of an hour depending how dark the dye is and shade I want. Everything else that you are doing sound fine.

for standard colors where you are using a single dye is usual straight forward. Some colours are tough. For example getting an exact shade of olive based on a mix of dyes is tricky. 

 

 

 

Edited by JRT

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As for Ftyer, I've never had a problem in dyeing bucktail and deer hair in a much less complicated procedure than you describe, particularly in degreasing.  I just use dish liquid for that and seldom soak the material for more than 2-3 hours. For the rest , I do basically what Ftyer does, using Veniard, Tintex or Rit dyes,  except I add vinegar to the dye bath before putting in the material but not even one cup but rather 1/3 to half a cup for about 8 liters of bath. And I go easy on the dye preferring to have to add more  than end up with a much darker shade than I want. Finally I keep the bath at a simmer (I never use a thermometer) but I regularly move the material around making the fibers open so that the dye will penetrate and I can't remember a time when it took more than one hour to reach the shade I wanted, normally much less than that.

 

So I'm puzzled by your failure more so as bucktails are not as delicate to dye as feathers. So, if there is something wrong with your procedure, it has to be in whatever you do prior to putting the material in the  bath. Why not make a test with one bucktail and follow what Ftyer and I do keeping your degreasing to a minimum.

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I’ve messed around with dying multiple times over the years and finally gave up. It’s not worth the effort in terms of time and money. I just buy the dyed tails that I want and having an abundance of white tails isn’t an issue. 

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My mind is starting to drift toward the pH of the acid bath if it is actually low enough to activate the dye.  I can't come up with a reasonable cause otherwise.  I'm going to get some pH strips this next week and ensure a pH of 2-3 prior to adding the tails to the bath.  Also, vinegar is seemingly very weak with a quick google search as far as acidity and pH in the undiluted form.  I'll give citric acid a go and maybe get back with you guys.  Thank you for your input thus far.

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I've used A.K. Bests book as a guide for years and have had excellent results every time.The only color that is kind of a crap shoot has been black.But……..the "grey" that sometimes comes from that is great.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

So I've done a little more research and what I've found is that very hard water like I have at my place...it limits the ability of detergents to effectively degrease.  So, what I have done is now degrease my tails in distilled water with the same detergent process, which seems to significantly improve the uptake of dye.  Im still not getting the dying times below 4 hours.  But, the quality of dye in the tails is coming out ok up this point.  With that said, I have only dyed one set of tails with this new change ~ sunburst yellow

 

I did dye the material in tap water, which is perhaps why the dye uptake is still slow.  There must be something that is still slowing (but not stopping) the dye from impregnating the hair, which I believe is related to excessive Ca2+ and Mg2+ in the tap water.  The hunt for improvements continues...

Edited by mattpurcell0117

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Sorry you are having problems dying. Most colors should only take 30-45 minutes (excludes black and a few other colors)  if you have your mixtures worked out. Most dye will be 1 1/2% - 5% dye to the dry weight of what you are dying. So, if you have 500 grams of tails, you will need between 8g - 25g of dry dye when you use an un-salted acid dye like Jacrade or Vinyards or other commercial dye. Next is the Acid you use whether it is Vinegar, Critic Acid or Ascitic Acid to name a few.  Vinegar you use between 1/4 cup - 3/4 cub for say 15 tails. If you have hard water you need to deal, but most of the time if you increase the acid it will counter this unless it is super hard. Clean water is a must. Washing tails - Dawn Dish Detergent is works great and so does Borax. It only takes 5-10 minutes to wash them and let them drain. Soaking them in synthrapol will help and adding a little (table spoon) to your dye bath will also help.  Paste up your dye in hot or boiling water fist helps. Bring your dye bath up to the highest temperature  you can or a boil, then add your acid (some colors only add 1/2 now and the other 1/2 close to the end), then your salt, then your dye and stir. Turn down the heat to between 140F-180F add your tails and stir often. Check the color and see if it needs more acid. Sometimes, you will need to let the bath cool off to say 100F and then bring it back up to force the dye particles in.  Dying consistent colors is a learned art. Take notes and weight the tails when they are dry. The amount of dye, temp, acid, type of acid, time and other variables change with the color and brand of dye and the tails you are dying. Anyone can run a dye bath a get a good color, but doing it 5 times in a row is the art.

 

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On 6/29/2020 at 1:34 PM, bbuzzi said:

Sorry you are having problems dying. Most colors should only take 30-45 minutes (excludes black and a few other colors)  if you have your mixtures worked out. Most dye will be 1 1/2% - 5% dye to the dry weight of what you are dying. So, if you have 500 grams of tails, you will need between 8g - 25g of dry dye when you use an un-salted acid dye like Jacrade or Vinyards or other commercial dye. Next is the Acid you use whether it is Vinegar, Critic Acid or Ascitic Acid to name a few.  Vinegar you use between 1/4 cup - 3/4 cub for say 15 tails. If you have hard water you need to deal, but most of the time if you increase the acid it will counter this unless it is super hard. Clean water is a must. Washing tails - Dawn Dish Detergent is works great and so does Borax. It only takes 5-10 minutes to wash them and let them drain. Soaking them in synthrapol will help and adding a little (table spoon) to your dye bath will also help.  Paste up your dye in hot or boiling water fist helps. Bring your dye bath up to the highest temperature  you can or a boil, then add your acid (some colors only add 1/2 now and the other 1/2 close to the end), then your salt, then your dye and stir. Turn down the heat to between 140F-180F add your tails and stir often. Check the color and see if it needs more acid. Sometimes, you will need to let the bath cool off to say 100F and then bring it back up to force the dye particles in.  Dying consistent colors is a learned art. Take notes and weight the tails when they are dry. The amount of dye, temp, acid, type of acid, time and other variables change with the color and brand of dye and the tails you are dying. Anyone can run a dye bath a get a good color, but doing it 5 times in a row is the art.

 

How much salt do you add to the dye bath (per gallon of water) to help with dye uptake?  Does that (generally speaking) change with veniard vs. jacquard dyes?  Those are the two that I use.

 

thanks so much!

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