Seeking advice on dyeing snowshoe hares feet

Buzzy

Active Member
I picked up four snowshoe hares feet this week, they were harvested earlier this fall. I really like snowshoe hares feet for emerger patterns and thought if I could color (dye) a couple of these feet my emerger tying would have more options. I'm not sure how to prepare the feet for dyeing and I don't want to destroy the floating characteristics of this amazing material....

Thanks in advance for advice/help!

Patrick
 

Buzzy

Active Member
What gives the hair on the feet its floating properties...is it oils or hollowness?

PS: I found this article... http://www.flyanglersonline.com/flytying/intermediate/part28.php

Might be some tips to glean here...
Thanks Bro! (well, thanks Finluver!) - the hair isn't hollow so it is really durable and seems to have a natural oil (lanolin?) - it really floats emergers where they should be. I'm reluctant to use any kind of "acid" to clean prior to dyeing since this might ((may)) remove some of the floating properties. What do I really know?

The Al Campbell link suggests permanent marking pens - that's easy enough and I'm just a casual tier.

Thanks again!

Patrick
 

ScottP

Active Member
Before I dye any substrate - feathers, hair, fur, I soak it in a bowl of warm water with a few drops of Dawn dishwashing soap for 5 minutes, then a second bath with Dawn and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar for another 5 minutes; at that point it’s ready for the dye.
Most of the stuff I work with is pretty clean to begin with so not much preparation is needed; dirty, bloody bits might take a bit more work to get them clean enough to accept the dye evenly.

Regards,
Scott
 

Buzzy

Active Member
Before I dye any substrate - feathers, hair, fur, I soak it in a bowl of warm water with a few drops of Dawn dishwashing soap for 5 minutes, then a second bath with Dawn and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar for another 5 minutes; at that point it’s ready for the dye.
Most of the stuff I work with is pretty clean to begin with so not much preparation is needed; dirty, bloody bits might take a bit more work to get them clean enough to accept the dye evenly.

Regards,
Scott
Thank you! A couple of the feet are dirty with dried blood. Going to clean them now.

Patrick
 

MD

Active Member
I can only guess that as long as you don't get the hairs too hot you won't have any problems. And by too hot I usually keep my dye baths around 140 degrees F.

Like Scott P wrote the pre soak is important to remove any fats, oils, or other stuff that keeps the dye from absorbing evenly.

I've done a few batches of rabbit body fur but no feet...so I don't know if there's any difference..but I wouldn't think there would be much.

Not knowing what colors you're after, some can be a challenge...like a good olive, for example. It took me a while to find one I liked.

I'll suggest trial runs with small pieces in order to end up with a color you're happy with. You can check it from time to time by rinsing in warm water, followed by cold, and if you're really anal, wash the piece with a little soap to make all the loose dye is gone...then use a hair dryer to see what it looks like dry. If it's too light, toss it back in the bath for a while.

The wet colors are darker than the dryer version and since you're gonna tie dry flies, that might be important to you.

You might check out Scott's postings. He seems to have Kool Aid and small, like one cup, dye baths using the microwave, dialed in.

I use a variety of dyes like Rit, Jacquards, Kool Aid, Veniard but I'm doing coffee carafe sized baths on an old hot plate.

Also, have a bottle of 409 cleaner around....it works pretty well to clean up the messes on the wife's kitchen counter and sink ;)

Mike d
 
Last edited:

Buzzy

Active Member
I can only guess that as long as you don't get the hairs too hot you won't have any problems. And by too hot I usually keep my dye baths around 140 degrees F.

Like Scott P wrote the pre soak is important to remove any fats, oils, or other stuff that keeps the dye from absorbing evenly.

I've done a few batches of rabbit body fur but no feet...so I don't know if there's any difference..but I wouldn't think there would be much.

Not knowing what colors you're after, some can be a challenge...like a good olive, for example. It took me a while to find one I liked.

I'll suggest trial runs with small pieces in order to end up with a color you're happy with. You can check it from time to time by rinsing in warm water, followed by cold, and if you're really anal, wash the piece with a little soap to make all the loose dye is gone...then use a hair dryer to see what it looks like dry. If it's too light, toss it back in the bath for a while.

The wet colors are darker than the dryer version and since you're gonna tie dry flies, that might be important to you.

You might check out Scott's postings. He seems to have Kool Aid and small, like one cup, dye baths using the microwave, dialed in.

I use a variety of dyes like Rit, Jacquards, Kool Aid, Veniard but I'm doing coffee carafe sized baths on an old hot plate.

Also, have a bottle of 409 cleaner around....it works pretty well to clean up the messes on the wife's kitchen counter and sink ;)

Mike d
Thanks Mike! I'm fascinated with ScottP's Kool Aid techniques. He really gets results.
 
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