How to dye ostrich feathers

Ostrich feathers have been around for centuries as decoration for hats, fans and other accessories. They also make great accents for a variety of craft projects. These feathers can range in size from about 5 to 30 inches in length. Naturally brown, grey, white and black, ostrich feathers can be dyed to achieve the colour that you prefer.

Use fluffy ostrich feathers that have no breakage; this will make for a better looking finished product once the dye has taken.

Choose the type of dye you want to use. You can use a natural dye, such as turmeric, coffee or onion skin, for a more subtle look. Choose dyes made for wool fabric if you are going for more vibrant colours.

Cook the ingredients in water if you are using a natural dye. Allow them to cook until their colours are released. For synthetic dyes, dissolve the dye in water according to the package instructions.

Find a large container big enough to dye the feathers in. You should be able to extend the feathers the length of the container without bending them. Place the mixed dye of your choice into this container.

Put the ostrich feathers gently into the container so they are submerged in the dye. You may be able to do multiple feathers at one time, depending on the size of the container and the size of the feathers.

Let the ostrich feathers soak in the dye until the colour of the feathers are a shade darker than what you want. The feather will lighten in colour once it dries.

Remove the ostrich feathers from the dye container. Use a hairdryer on the lowest setting to dry the feathers. Move the hairdryer around while drying so that you do not apply too much direct heat and scorch the ostrich feathers. Using a blow dryer will return the feathers to their original fluffiness.

Pat the feathers dry with an old towel if you do not have access to a hair dryer. Get as much moisture off of the feathers as you can. Lay them on newspaper and cover them with dry starch. Allow them to settle for a few minutes, shake the feathers, and then lightly tap them against the edge of table or something similar. This will get the starch out of the ostrich feathers. This method of drying will not give the feathers the fluffiness that a hair dryer will produce.

Paint the feather's stem with the dye if the dye does not absorb on its own. Use a small paintbrush and apply the dye evenly. You may even try acrylic paint if the dye does not work.


Wear rubber gloves and old clothes to avoid getting dye on your body.

Things You'll Need

  • Ostrich feathers
  • Natural or synthetic dye
  • Large pot
  • Water
  • Large container
  • Hair dryer
  • Newspaper
  • Old towel
  • Dry starch
  • Small paintbrush (optional)
  • Acrylic paint (optional)
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About the Author

Kimbry Parker has been writing since 1998 and has published content on various websites. Parker has experience writing on a variety of topics such as health, parenting, home improvement and decorating. She is a graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication.