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Questions & Answers

Colours to Dye For

Dear Paul, I have just inherited a load of wonderfully soft underbelly fur from two moulting Malamutes and I think it could make incredible dubbing. Of course right now it is probably full of lanolin which would need to be removed and I don't know the appropriate chemical or procedure for this. Secondly I would want to dye it in a few of the more popular shades of brown and olive to use in my own tying but I have no idea where to acquire the appropriate dyes nor how to actually perform the dying process. I was wondering if you have any knowledge of this process and where I might source the materials for the job. If you have any ideas on this one then please let me know because this fur is just too good to waste and I have a carrier bag full of it!

A little while later . . . .

Dear Paul, Further to my request for help and guidance on hair scouring and dying, I think I will give it a miss for now having just found: and seen the price of the scouring chemical and the dyes to do the job. I could probably purchase a lifetime supply of dubbing for the price of half a dozen dyes! Unless you know of a more sensible solution then I think I will give the whole idea a miss.

Dear Mike, The following website takes you through the process of dyeing fly tying materials

The detergent you needs to clean and degrease the fur is Venpol from Veniards - it is super strong - yet gentle and my 100ml bottle cost £2.99 and last for decades as you really do use a thimble full to a sink full of water. It is also very pure so needs little rinsing (actually Veniards state that it so pure rinsing is unnecessary).

Alternatively you can use one of the mild detergents available at the supermarket for wools or hand-washing e.g. Dreft, Woolite etc - but remember to rinse well to remove all trace of detergent before trying to dye the materials.

As to dyes - yes as you have found veniards dyes are slightly expensive but do a superb job and give consistent results. Another alternative - slightly cheaper, but still a dye designed for fly tying materials is from Steve Parton:

his dyes are around £3.50 per tub. Plus reading through his website is very amusing with all of the ascerbic comments. Remember these dyes cure with acetic acid (vinegar) so buy this in bulk (5 litre containers of white (spirit) vinegar) from your local cash and carry. You can use malt vinegar as well but there is less chance of the brown colour affecting the materials if you use white vinegar which is colourless.

The cheapest alternative is to use Dylon fabric dye - for hand use

This is stocked in most hardware shops e.g. Robert Dyas and your local fabric shops - they are about £3 a pack. I bought my last load from Woolworths when they closed down and got them for around £1 a packet! Remember though this dye requires table salt to set the dye so you'll need a fair amount - again a bulk pack of 1kg from the cash and carry should do the job.

What you have to remember, no matter which dye you buy, is that you use these dyes sparingly and a packet will last ages - the cost can't be written off against only one dying attempt. Plus you have to remember that you will need cheap bowls and sieves and implements to do the dyeing in plus gloves to protect your hands - so a trip to the local poundland is a life (and marriage) saver!

The final tip is if you only want to try this once why don't you put a note on the website and in the newsletter asking if anyone has some spare dyes that they will be willing to give you, or even sell cheap, or trade for some of your finished product.

Paul Davis