Articles by AAPGAI Members

Fly Dressing – Tips on dying and stripping Peacock quills

By Paul Little

Dying the quills

Equipment required

  1. Stainless Steel Pan.
  2. Clear acetic acid (vinegar) or citric acid (much more concentrated than acetic acid)
  3. Water
  4. Dye, in this case Turmeric (Veniard’s dyes are very good)
  5. Heat source (portable electric plate)
  6. Small tongs
  7. Kitchen role

Dying the eyes

Add water to the pan followed by the clear vinegar or citric acid flakes and a teaspoon of Turmeric. Bring almost to the boil and add the Peacock eyes to the pan. Stir continuously keeping an eye on the shade of olive required this will depend on the shade of the herl stems; the lighter they are in colour, the lighter the final olive will be. Remove the eyes when the desired shade is reached. Rinse under cold water then dry on kitchen towel. Blows dry the eyes and then steam them back into shape.

Stripping the quills

Equipment required

  1. Stainless Steel Pan.
  2. Candle wax
  3. Heat source (portable electric plate)
  4. Small pair of tongs
  5. Kitchen role

Add a quantity of white candle wax to the pan and allow melting. Once melted, (the liquid should be clear containing no lumps) remove from the heat. Holding the main stem of the eye with a pair of tongs or tweezers at all times, draw the eye through the liquid wax. Lift the eye above the pan and allow draining before placing on a double thickness of kitchen roll. Remove from the paper when dry.

To strip the quills, separate a single quill using a dubbing needle. Hold the single quill in the left hand by the TIP. Using the thumb nail and forefinger (as a base) gently strip a small section moving DOWN the stem towards its wide base removing the herl from both sides of the quill. Repeat the process until the herl is removed. This is a far better process than using a rubber or thumbnail or un-waxed quill.

Articles by Paul Little