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Forum Home - Go Back > Pow Wow Crafts > General Crafts Help with dying fake Eagle feathers! Help with dying fake Eagle feathers!

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Old 04-30-2016, 04:01 PM   #21
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Talking I have actually modified a lot of feathers for fun...

I know this thread isn't brand new and I know there have been a TON of helpful tips here already, but in case someone else comes looking, figured I'd throw in my 2 cents as well (not that it comes from a place of wisdom) If you are not legally registered with the government as belonging to a specific tribe, no matter your lineage, you can be prosecuted for possessing eagle feathers in the US. Is it right? No, but that doesn't matter a whole lot. I'd err on the side of caution for anyone who isn't registered, whenever you go out with your feathers, you never know when someone is going to question you about it. Personally I have never heard of someone actually getting in trouble for it, but I wouldn't want it to happen to me. I am not registered with any tribe, and on top of that, I am pale with blue eyes so if anyone was going to be questioned, it would probably be me. LOL. I am very fortunate to have family with all matter of different barnyard birds... Turkeys, chickens, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, and even some pigeons. I am also something of an art geek. I have never imitated an eagle feather specifically, but I have done other birds such as loons, ospreys, herons, and I have painted some unrealistic fantasy feathers just for the heck of it (because I am weird) - Stuff in my kit includes hobby knives / exacto blades (whatever you call them) several different artists' paintbrushes, scissors, little sponges, oil paints and pigment powders, and "extra-hold" hairspray. Depending on what you intend the feather to endure, there are several different things you can use to dye it, but not every dye works with every feather... To explain... My favorite dye is just hair dye. Normal human hair dye. I apply it with paintbrushes intended for oil paints. I dry it with a hair dryer warm enough to set the color, but not so hot that it begins to curl or get brittle. Heat will set in almost any type of "stain" but feathers are delicate and too much heat can damage them. You also need the dye to dry initially. The issue with hair dye is that it needs to be rinsed after being applied or it can rub off and stain your hands, regalia, face, HAIR... Even if it is dry... It is kind of like handling a charred stick, it just leaves smudges on you. If the feather is handled VERY minimally, you can get away without rinsing it by applying very little dye and then coating it liberally with a firm hairspray. If you don't trim the feather at all, you need to mind the fluffy bits towards the bottom of the quill - if they get hairspray on them they are going to look really stupid and they won't recover from it - believe me. You can't rinse off most feathers without ruining them unless you are VERY careful or have practiced it a bit first. Chicken feathers are almost a complete "no", they are just too soft and flimsy. I found goose feathers to be the very easiest to rinse off, because they are already a little waterproof, and they are stiffer than turkey feathers. Of course you can cut them how you need them to be, and when trimming them smaller, I'd always recommend leaving the top as intact as possible while doing the trimming from the bottom; clipping the quill and shaving the sides however you need it to be. I normally do the trimming before the coloring, but it really doesn't matter too much as long as the color has set in. If you go somewhere to collect barnyard feathers, use the raggedy ones to practice on until you get the hang of it, then do the nicer ones. If you purchase pigment powders online, you can mimic glittery or iridescent effects of natural feathers such as that shimmer on a mallard's head, etc. once you get good at it. I am not quite there yet... Mine look okay at a distance, but up close they look not so great. LOL. Since I haven't been to pow wows much, I haven't had a need to handle most of my feathers, so I have colored them carefully with oil paints, let them dry, and then applied a VERY stiff hairspray to them to set them. I don't know how well these would hold up to handling or rain, but they look nice behind glass. If anyone needs any help with any of this, I would be more than happy to lend a hand - painting feathers is really fun, no matter what you are doing it for.
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Old 04-30-2016, 04:06 PM   #22
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Forgot to mention that if you thin the hair dye with water, you can layer the colors, as on a golden eagle feather. Just apply the watered down dye to a section, dry it with the hair dryer, then do the next section, overlapping a bit to create the bars.
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