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Re: Carrie Stevens, the hard way (long winded)

Posted: Fri Apr 24, 2020 6:49 pm
by bearbutt
I've starting dyeing hackle for the Carrie Stevens project. Part of the trick to dyeing hackle is to create a slightly variegated effect. Colors in nature are rarely 'pure' or 'solid': they're usually a bit 'dirty,' flecked with ambient color and shading, which you don't notice until you look closely.

Rather than dye whole necks, I dye sets of hackle attached to a bulldog clip: they are treated with different dye densities and mixes, then the dye is partly stripped--sometimes the stripping process only last 15 seconds, sometimes a couple of minutes--and then they are redyed. The process of underdyeing and overdyeing creates an imbricated layer of color that is imperfect as a dyed feather, but more perfect as far as nature is concerned. Nature is messy.

Here are some pictures of in-progress samples.

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For her Grey Ghost streamer, Stevens used dyed dun that, over 70 years of exposure to light, changed in color: while some of her Grey Ghosts are still a light dun, or dunnish, many have oxidized to a pink or red-tinged brown, and some are an orange-tinged tan. The changes remind me of what happened to Mark Rothko's iconic brownish-purples, and how they have become more blue over time. This happens to art more often than we think, especially when light-sensitive dyes are used, instead of colorfast pigments. Dyed feathers and dyed papers are both very vulnerable. Most fly tiers in the past didn't have a choice--they used what their fly shops stocked--and they were tying flies to catch fish, not mount in shadow boxes and hung on the wall. The archival stability of their materials was not a consideration the way it is for collectors, museums, and conservators today.

So--I've been working on getting my dun looking aged and faded. I'm not totally there yet, butĀ getting close. Dyed orange-tan tinged 'dun' on top; original Stevens on the bottom:

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bb

Re: Carrie Stevens, the hard way (long winded)

Posted: Wed Apr 29, 2020 10:05 am
by Theroe
Oh boy.......I think you will be pleased with what I sent you.......

Re: Carrie Stevens, the hard way (long winded)

Posted: Mon May 18, 2020 8:46 pm
by bearbutt
Thanks, Dana!

Dana's care package included some Mustad 3907B hooks in #4, and a huge pile a beautiful hackle from the 1940s--duns of different shades and badgers and grizzly--all perfect for tying Stevens-style streamers. (And a very special set of flies tied by The Master, which requires a separate thread.) The blue dun in particular had oxidized to dun-tan and dun-pale green. The hackle was a bit kinked from being stored in glassine and cellophane pockets and envelopes--but it straightened easily by putting it in a bulldog clamp, and giving it a ten-second long shower in a stream of hot water from the faucet--and it came out beautifully:

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I used some of Dana's dun for Grey Ghost wingsets:

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All-in-all, I made about 150 wingsets in the past few weeks. At Gary's suggestion, I used for the first time Loctite instead of Griff's thick, and it worked well. I have some other work to attend to presently, then a fishing trip to make, so I might not be back into doing the assemblies--hookset, wingset, and throat/underbelly--until later in the summer. There's no rush though. If you tie Stevens-style streamers, there's no rush at all.

A few more pics of the project-in-progress:


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Re: Carrie Stevens, the hard way (long winded)

Posted: Tue May 19, 2020 10:40 am
by gt05254
bb - as one who knows well how much work we're looking at in those pics, all I can say is "WELL DONE!" The bodies are the easy part.
Gary

Re: Carrie Stevens, the hard way (long winded)

Posted: Tue May 19, 2020 10:42 am
by gt05254
Can't resist posting this. Apologies for a slight hijack of your thread:
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Gary

Re: Carrie Stevens, the hard way (long winded)

Posted: Tue May 19, 2020 3:37 pm
by bearbutt
Thanks, Gary. I'm very happy with how these are coming along. Probably less a labor of love than a labor of madness, lol.

Time to go fishing!--will get back to them later in the summer.

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some more:

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Re: Carrie Stevens, the hard way (long winded)

Posted: Wed May 20, 2020 2:45 pm
by Theroe
Absolutely beautiful work, Joseph!!

I for one cannot wait to see the finished product(s)
:D :D :D

Dana