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قراءة كتاب The Practical Ostrich Feather Dyer

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‏اللغة: English
The Practical Ostrich Feather Dyer

The Practical Ostrich Feather Dyer

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 2




The manufacturers of America could have been counted on the fingers of one's hand a dozen years ago. At the present time New York alone can boast of between forty and fifty. Enterprising men in other cities and throughout the country are yearly becoming interested and endeavoring to take hold of this young and profitable business, and we can look to ostrich feather manufacturing at the present time as one of our staple industries. The greatest disadvantage manufacturers have had to contend with was a lack of knowledge of coloring. Our greatest chemists and aniline manufacturers have worked diligently, contributing largely to the progress of wool, cotton and silk dyeing, but the amount of dyestuffs used by the largest feather manufacturers was of such minor importance that it did not seem profitable for them to investigate; consequently the art of ostrich feather dyeing progressed very slowly. Feather dyers a dozen years ago were scarce, and the art (if in those days it could be called such), was controlled to a great extent by the French, who, judging by my experience with them, impressed me as being the most egotistical mortals, and decidedly orthodox in their methods, absolutely refusing to take hold of anything new that might prove beneficial to them, and so jealously did they guard their (as they considered them) secrets, that during working hours every one of them even their employers, were denied admittance to the dye-house.

Millions of dollars are at the present time invested in ostrich feathers in all conditions, in the cases of raw stock in the ware-houses and in the flourishing ostrich farms now in existence; and a milliner's window without its rich clusters of ostrich tips and plumes would to-day be a rare sight. They are used not only in the trimming of hats and bonnets, but fashion demands their use in trimming dresses, wraps, etc., and to a large extent they are being used in making handsome and very valuable fans. It is to be regretted that London and Paris markets are supplied with the choicest of the goods that come from the Cape, and America gets the leavings, although our market consumes equally as many, if not more. It is only a matter of time, however, when manufacturers will be importing raw stock direct.


Years ago, before the trade had begun to assume its present proportions, the supply of feathers came chiefly from Egypt; the bird being hunted by the natives, and generally killed for its plumage, which was in quality far superior to the feathers which are to-day raised on farms at the Cape. The flues or fibres of the Egyptian were very close and compact and very strong in texture and of great durability, and having a great affinity for color, they were capable of standing a great amount of manipulation without receiving serious injury. A serious objection to them was that one-half, or more, were marked where the bird pecked them with his bill, giving them a moth-eaten appearance, and few of them could be used for white, as they were more or less stained on the ends, a dirty yellow, which soap would not remove and acid would only develop, there being at that time no known method of bleaching them, as the virtues of Peroxide of Hydrogen or Permanganate of Potash as bleaching agents were unknown to the dyers. Enterprising capitalists saw a profitable field for investment in the propagation of the bird, and, as a result, the supply has greatly increased, and the quality of the plumage is far superior in every respect to the wild Egyptian ostrich.

A full grown ostrich will weigh about three hundred pounds, and stands about seven to eight feet in height. In the breeding season they will travel in broods of from three to five in number, one of which is invariably a male. The hens lay their eggs in a pit scraped out with their feet, the sand forming a ridge around it. When they have accumulated a dozen eggs or so the male begins to brood, always taking his place on them at night, surrounded by the hens, while by day they will relieve one another. Again, at times the hatching has been left entirely to the sun. North African eggs present a smooth surface, while those of the South are pitted.

At the present time an ostrich farm is in progress in California; it is as yet a very young institution, and its success is being watched with interest, but, in my opinion, while the bird will live and thrive, the quality of the plumage will be very inferior to those in their native clime. So much has already been written concerning the bird's powerful digestive organs, and so exaggerated that we will not try to discredit or contradict it. It is hardly necessary to remark that there is scarcely enough substance in ten-penny nails or doorknobs to fatten an ostrich on.



Logwood is met with in commerce in the shape of large blocks, averaging about four hundred pounds each in weight. On the surface the wood is a dirty deep brown red, but within, where it has not come in contact with the atmosphere, its color is much brighter. The tree is a native of South America. It has been known and used ever since a short period after the discovery of America. During the twenty-third year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth an act of Parliament was passed, forbidding its use as a dyestuff, because it did not yield fast colors. This act was repealed, however, by an Order in Council of Charles II., which proceeds to set forth that great improvements have been made as regards the obtaining of fast colors from logwood. The following are the chief varieties of logwood, distinguished by names derived from the localities of exportation: Yucatan, Laguna, Domingo, Monte Christo, Fort Liberte, Jamaica, etc.

Logwood is to-day one of our most important dyewoods, as indeed it enters in feather dyeing into all of the dark or staple colors, such as black, navy blue, brown, green, garnet, etc. To extract the substance requires considerable boiling, especially if used in the form of chips; if it is used ground, which is by far preferable to chips in feather dyeing, it requires much less boiling to extract the substance. The dyer will often find logwood, that, although purchased under the name of a most excellent brand, will be far inferior to what he has been using, in which case it is well to look for an adulteration of some sort, which it is not at all easy to detect, only when it does not produce the desired result.


The substance known as turmeric is the under-ground stem of a plant which grows in a wild state in some parts of China and India. It emits a strong, but pleasant odor, and its taste is peppery, aromatic and bitter at the same time. The plant, however, is cultivated in Java and Bengal; the latter country producing the better quality. Although turmeric is rich in coloring matter, its want of permanence is a hindrance to it. It is generally sold in powder, ground down very fine. It should be quite dry; if damp, it loses its color, turns a dull yellowish brown, and dyes flat shades. A good turmeric should show a beautiful lustre. It enters into a majority of the dark colors in feather dyeing, and, although used as a body for colors only, a great deal depends upon it as to