Carrie Stevens, the hard way (long winded)

bearbutt
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Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:36 pm

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

Post 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, but getting close. Dyed orange-tan tinged 'dun' on top; original Stevens on the bottom:

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bb

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

Post by Theroe »

Oh boy.......I think you will be pleased with what I sent you.......
“Time to go fishing”

bearbutt
Posts: 563
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:36 pm

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

Post 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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bb

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gt05254
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Re: Carrie Stevens, the hard way (long winded)

Post 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

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gt05254
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Re: Carrie Stevens, the hard way (long winded)

Post by gt05254 »

Can't resist posting this. Apologies for a slight hijack of your thread:
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Gary

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

Post 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.

bb

some more:

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

Post by Theroe »

Absolutely beautiful work, Joseph!!

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

Dana
“Time to go fishing”

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

Post by bearbutt »

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

I for one cannot wait to see the finished product(s)
Well, finally, here are the "finished products."

I thought this project might take me six months. It ended up taking a year.

It was slow in part because tying a Carrie Steven streamer is inherently slow--it requires, depending on how you count, three or four separate operations to tie her flies: sourcing the materials, dyeing hackle and making wingsets and cheeksets, wrapping the hooksets, and finally assembling all the parts.

The wingsets took eight weeks to prepare, and the hooksets took six. By then summer was folding into fall, and I put the project aside to finish some writing and other tying--and then, from Thanksgiving to today, I assembled the streamers, one-by-one.

Tying is a lot like writing, in that you can't let your attention wander--you have to have your head and your hands in perfect alignment. A lot of things can go wrong, and do: floss frizzles, tinsel and thread break, hackle kinks, alignments get skewed, proportions drop off. Every fly that comes out of the vise looking right is ineffably satisfying. Tying this tranche of streamers I used 19 peacock tails, 4 heads of golden pheasant, 5 capes of jungle cock, and made approximately 123,000 wraps of silk thread. I'm exhausted.

Cheers,
BB

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

Post by ibookje »

They are amazing. Well done BB!

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

Post by ted patlen »

Extremely well done.

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