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Chessa_Swing
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« on: December 19, 2008, 08:56:45 AM »

I recently made a white rabbit fur muff, but its sort of... plain. I had read not long ago that faux ermine muffs were quite fashionable, and that one could dye white fur with some sort of black dye.  Then at my last event, my friend mentioned the same thing to me. 

My question is, is this very hard to do and/or has anyone tried it?

Thanks!
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Chessa Swing
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2008, 05:57:51 PM »

I haven't tried it, but I believe the Workwoman's Guide has directions how to do it. It may be online at google books, or hopefully someone has a copy out, because ours is still packed away. I think it involves just painting ink in appropriate places, where the black tips of the tails would be.

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vmescher
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2008, 07:45:19 PM »

I haven't tried it, but I believe the Workwoman's Guide has directions how to do it. It may be online at google books, or hopefully someone has a copy out, because ours is still packed away. I think it involves just painting ink in appropriate places, where the black tips of the tails would be.

Hank Trent
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Do a search in Google books for Workwoman's Guide and then search within the book for "imitation ermine" and the section should pop up.  If that doesn't work, the instructions are on page 176. 
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Virginia Mescher
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Maggie Koenig
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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2008, 10:26:38 PM »

Anything that will dye natural fibers, hair or leather will dye fur.  Its just a matter of how messy the chosen dye is.  Could someone please post what the Workwomen's guide says.  I'd be interested but I don't own a copy.
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Maggie Koenig
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« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2008, 10:32:09 PM »

 Hmm, it seems that it isn't quite so simple as painting spots on white fur. http://books.google.com/books?id=JCsBAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+workwoman%27s+guide&ei=ZXRMSdLiMITOlQSi8MjMBQ#PPA176,M1Search 'ermine' and it brings up the article.  Smiley
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Chessa_Swing
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« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2008, 08:52:14 AM »

Okay, thanks everyone!  This may be a Christmas Break Project... Smiley

Anything that will dye natural fibers, hair or leather will dye fur.  Its just a matter of how messy the chosen dye is.  Could someone please post what the Workwomen's guide says.  I'd be interested but I don't own a copy.

India ink?  Wink
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Chessa Swing
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2008, 10:36:55 AM »

Okay, thanks everyone!  This may be a Christmas Break Project... Smiley

India ink?  Wink

I did a google book search for imitation ermine (years 1840-1870) and found numerous hits for imitation ermine but the only directions for making it was in the Workwoman's Guide, using the tails.  In the references to imitation ermine, there were mentions of "tails on my imitation ermine tippet."

I didn't find anything to suggest that the spots were painted on.  In 1872 there was a pattern for crocheting a doll's muff to imitate ermine and black spots were crocheted in the pattern.  In some knitting patterns, after the border was knitted, spots black spots were applied with yarn to suggest ermine.

You might want to do additional research to see if you can find anything that mentions that the black spots were painted on.  If I recall correctly, the winter coats of ermine are completely white with black tips on their tails. I expect that is why they are sewing black tails of other animals to the rabbit fur so a to imitate ermine.  You would have to be very sparing with the painted black spots if you were to use that method since they are supposed to imitating the tails of the ermine. 
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Virginia Mescher
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Chessa_Swing
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2008, 11:49:28 AM »

I did a google book search for imitation ermine (years 1840-1870) and found numerous hits for imitation ermine but the only directions for making it was in the Workwoman's Guide, using the tails. In the references to imitation ermine, there were mentions of "tails on my imitation ermine tippet."

I didn't find anything to suggest that the spots were painted on. In 1872 there was a pattern for crocheting a doll's muff to imitate ermine and black spots were crocheted in the pattern. In some knitting patterns, after the border was knitted, spots black spots were applied with yarn to suggest ermine.

You might want to do additional research to see if you can find anything that mentions that the black spots were painted on. If I recall correctly, the winter coats of ermine are completely white with black tips on their tails. I expect that is why they are sewing black tails of other animals to the rabbit fur so a to imitate ermine. You would have to be very sparing with the painted black spots if you were to use that method since they are supposed to imitating the tails of the ermine.

Yes, I have been researching.  I did a search on google, but didn't turn anything up. I just had a few minutes around lunch to search Google Books and found the same results as you.  (Its been crazy at my house, so I haven't been able to do much additional research)! Smiley 

Thanks for the help everyone! 
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Chessa Swing
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2008, 12:40:10 PM »

Chessa, unless you are wanting to use materials available in the 1860's I would actually suggest that you use a fiber reactive dye.  If you are not worried about the hot water and rinsing you could probably use plain old RIT.  The reason I say this is that india ink may not contain a reliable fixative where the dye does.
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Maggie Koenig
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Carolann Schmitt
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2008, 12:54:49 PM »

Chessa -

I did a presentation on fur garments a few years ago. To create faux ermine, the peltrie could be tipped or feathered. Tipping is coloring selected areas of the skin and the fur with a brush; feathering is coloring selected long hairs with a turkey feather dipped in dye. Faux ermine was also created by plating: sewing small pieces of fur cut away during the manufacture of a garment plus paws and tails into a larger piece. Several of the sources I found indicated plating was one of the more common methods of creating imitation ermine. Occasionally it was created by pointing - adding hairs to a damaged area of a pelt.  

The sources I found did not give specific details on techniques or dyes. The processes used to produce fur garments were and are closely-held secrets. Try searching on "fur manufacture" and each of these terms; you may have more success.

I wonder if hair dye would be better than India ink, or the fiber reactive dyes Maggie mentioned.

Regards,
Carolann

 
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Carolann Schmitt - Only a historian understands how much you need to know in order to recognize how much you don't know. - Elizabeth Ann Coleman
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Maggie Koenig
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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2008, 03:33:18 PM »

Carolann,  I'd almost think that out of the box hair dye would be too harsh on the fur which has no what of renewing its own natural oils and moisture after the dye process.  I don't know much about how to care for furs, just covered how to make leather happy last semester but I never did ask about fur, but I know losing moisture is a huge problem in leather.
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Maggie Koenig
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Ms. Jean
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« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2008, 05:56:23 AM »

Chessa, have you thought about tassels and a cord for around your neck?  Big ol' plaid bow?  Might take care of your "too plain"  without permanent chemical consequences!

(A person trained to dye the hair on humans should be a big help at keeping the dye off the rest of the muff.)

Good luck!

Jean

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Ms. Jean
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« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2008, 12:25:28 PM »

Question: in reviewing photos of fur muffs, the tassels on the end seem very common. Usually looking to be attached by a loop of cord. I suppose that the wearer could slip a wrist into the cord to keep the muff "on" even if it was taken off. But I can't find any evidence of a cord to suspend the thing around the wearer's neck. Has anyone else seen this feature in person or a CDV for keeping a muff close at hand even if you are a bit careless with things that arn't attached to you?
Bevin
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Bevin MacRae

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