Dyeing materials
Collecting materials

Dyeing  Intro  Equipment  Step-by-step  Microwave  Fabric dye  Collecting

Collecting and preserving materials

by Graham Ward

Hen and Cock Pheasant - Partridge - Mallard duck - Teal - Jay - Crow - Rabbit - Hare and Squirrel mainly come from friends who shoot game and vermin. The game shooting season is from October to February. Another source is game dealers from whom I occasionally buy Pheasants and Duck to eat.

Whatever the source I like the material to be fairly fresh ( no more than two days after it has been killed). As far as birds are concerned I do not skin them. Body feathers I pluck. Wings I normally cut off. I remove any meat and then dry them naturally in their pairs to ensure that I shall have matching feathers. Swan and Canada Goose feathers I normally collect in the Summer when the birds have moulted and the feathers can be found at the lake side. If feathers are dirty they can be washed and then dried naturally.

Rabbit - Hare - Squirrel (and Moles) I skin. I then nail them out on a board so that the skin is stretched - fur side to the board raw skin uppermost. I then liberally sprinkle Borax on to the raw skin and rub it in. All I am trying to do is dry the skin off not tan it, that is an entirely different process. I check the skin at regular intervals and if there are still wet patches I rub in more Borax until it is dry.

Normally this only takes about 3 or 4 days and it is then ready for use. These skins have only been preserved to use the fur for body materials. Care must be taken when skinning to ensure that this is cleanly done and there aren't bits of meat and fat adhering to it because this will make the drying process longer. With Squirrel tails I remove any fat/meat from the base. Rub in borax and dry them. I have also done the same with bucktails.

When storing fur or feather it must be dry and free from any material that can go rotten and contaminate it. The place where you store it must also be dry. I normally place the fur or feather in large plastic bags into which I also place a moth ball which contains Naphthalene it says on the box " Insecticide for amateur use as a moth repellent to prevent insect damage for stored woollens,furs,linens,clothing and bedding in domestic situations".
I have used these methods of preservation and storage for about 15 years and have never had any problems.

To sum up I think the important points are as follows:
  1. Always ensure that you know the source of the raw material and that it is fresh.
  2. Ensure that it is dry and free from contamination when you store it.
  3. Always store it with some form of safe domestic insecticide.
See also: Cleaning tying material by Wayne Luallen.

Dyeing   Intro   Equipment   Step-by-step   Microwave   Fabric dye   Collecting

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