After selecting your necks, make a 1-gallon
solution of hot tap water and /4 cup of clear
liquid Ivory dish washing soap. Combine the
ingredients, mix thoroughly, and immerse all
the necks at once. Stir gently with the bamboo
tongs, making sure that each neck is completely
One or two necks will always float to the top of
the mixture. Be sure that the neck at the very top
is floating feather side up, as this will keep the
oily skin in contact with the degreasing solution.
Keep the necks in the solution for at least
twenty-four hours, stirring every few hours since
the solution that is in direct contact with the skin
will tend to weaken and break down as it dissolves
oils from the skin. Don't be afraid to allow the
necks to remain in this solution for thirty-six
to forty-eight hours. You need to remove as much
oil as possible. I wouldn't leave the necks in the
degreasing solution longer than two days, however,
simply because I'm afraid the skin might begin to
disintegrate, allowing a lot of feathers to loosen
and fall out. But don't be alarmed if you see a few
feathers fall out during this process or during actual
dyeing. All necks have been scraped and stretched and
handled many times before you get them, invariably
producing a few loose feathers.
If your necks are very oily and you can see bits of
chicken fat clinging to the skin, you can speed the
degreasing process by mixing the above solution, then
pouring it into your dyeing pan. Place the dyeing pan
on your hot plate, set the temperature to no more than
120 degrees Fahrenheit and add the necks. Stir frequently.
The heated solution will help to liquefy and dissolve
the thicker oils and fats. If you use this method you
do not have to soak the necks for twenty-four hours or
more, since the necks will be ready for dyeing in two
or three hours. When I'm really cramped for time, I'll
use this hot degreasing method simply because I can have
dyed and drying necks in only one day. The only drawback
is that the dried skins tend to be a little more brittle
and therefore require a little more care when pulling
feathers from them.
After the necks have spent a day or two in the degreasing
solution, thoroughly rinse them one at a time under
lukewarm tap water. Gently squeeze and release as
the tap water runs over the neck. Never wring excess
water from the necks. The skins are now soft and very
delicate and will tear easily. Merely squeeze the water
from them and place them either on a pie tin or in the
foil cake pan while you prepare the dye recipe. They
are ready for dyeing, which should be done before
they dry out. ~ A.K. Best
Credits: From Dyeing and Bleaching By A.K.
Best, Published by the Lyons Press.
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