Of course you’ve asked yourself before, “How do I coffee dye all these white feathers?” Naturally. Wait, you didn’t? Oh. We did, when we had several packets of perfectly white feathers which suddenly needed to be a pleasant cream color. We also had coffee. Go figure.
This is more effective than I expected, and as you’ll see in a minute, very simple. Let’s dive in!
Start with white feathers and brewed coffee. We brewed ours at double strength for extra dye power, and poured the super-strong coffee into a wide baking dish to give us plenty of room. Make sure to let the coffee cool before you begin – there’s a bit of mixing involved, so unless you use a tool to mix them around you’ll want it to be a nice cool temperature.
(With apologies for the blurry hand – we got really excited for no reason during this photo.)
It was during this process that I realized something I should have known: feathers float.
“But Snitch,” you say, “certainly you knew this beforehand. After all, how many feathers have you seen floating on the water? It’s obvious!”
Well yes, smarty pants. But do I meditate every morning on the floaty properties of feathers? I do not.
Anyway, now it’s time to stir them up a bit with your fingers. I didn’t use a utensil because I found I wasn’t afforded the flexibility I needed to make sure the whole feather was submerged, without bubbles and dry spots which would mar the dye job. The whole thing starts to look a little gross, but I’m adding an image so you know what to expect.
Also, this is about the time I realized we needed something under our giant coffee dish, so I slipped a cookie sheet underneath to protect the table against spills.
After the stirring is complete, we let ours soak for 20 minutes. Now, you can soak it for longer, but there’s not much of a difference in the results. You’ll see what I mean later in the post.
Hmmm. *hits the fast forward button.*
Yep, still gross.
Run the water over them gently, but don’t worry about breaking or separating the barbs too much, because you’re about to put these bad boys in the clothes dryer.
Yep, you heard me. The clothes dryer. This is where that laundry bag I told you about comes in handy. Note this is a micro mesh bag. Some lingerie bags have big holes in the mesh, and I’m not sure exactly what the end result would look like in one of those. I’m sure it wouldn’t be pretty.
Pop the whole mass of them into the laundry bag, zip it up, and toss it in the dryer. Don’t worry about heat, birds are okay with it and so are you. It didn’t take them long to dry, maybe ten minutes. I didn’t count because I was busy with another batch of feathers (we needed a lot), but you get the idea.
Anyway, after it was done, they came out pretty nice. Not what I would have expected from a pile of feathers which looked like a hairball. They’re nice and fluffy, and possibly even better looking than they were when I bought them. So that’s pretty nice.
This color was perfect for the project we had in mind, but I wanted to get a better idea of exactly how the feathers would take the dye if I left some in for a while.
I let a batch sit in the coffee for about 40 minutes, then I had a third batch sit in the coffee overnight. In the image below, the 20 minute soak is on the far left, 40 minute soak in the middle, and overnight soak is on the far right.
As you can see, the difference isn’t enormous until you let it sit overnight. The color of the darkest feathers is almost gold, with a lot of yellow in it. It wasn’t right for our project, but it’s definitely a pretty color.
Just fyi: The laundry bag we used turned a splotchy brownish color, which worried me at first, but I tossed it into the washing machine with some white towels to see what it would do. It came out looking good as new, and the white towels around it weren’t affected by the coffee dye. Score.
If you’ve tried this before and have any helpful comments, suggestions or tips, or if you have a question, let us know about it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
– The Needle Snitch