Author Topic: Green color/dye for horns  (Read 6933 times)

Bruce B

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Green color/dye for horns
« on: August 17, 2010, 04:32:03 AM »
I've seen several pics, and read references to horns with a green color. As I'd like something a tad different, how is this achieved, and what is the best way to get the color? I'd guess that something like bluestone/copper sulfate would prob'ly work.
Any help, advice suggestions are appreciated.
Thanks,
Bruce

eseabee1

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Re: Green color/dye for horns
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2010, 04:48:36 AM »
talking with Ed Long about that he told me copper sulfate is what to use ..but he said it takes awhile

Offline Chuck Burrows

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Re: Green color/dye for horns
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2010, 06:14:28 AM »
By the Mad Monk himslef - horn dying with copper to achieve a green horn
http://shoot7.tripod.com/madmonk.html
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Green color/dye for horns
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2010, 06:47:07 AM »
I've seen several pics, and read references to horns with a green color. As I'd like something a tad different, how is this achieved, and what is the best way to get the color? I'd guess that something like bluestone/copper sulfate would prob'ly work.
Any help, advice suggestions are appreciated.
Thanks,
Bruce

Historically they most likely would have used copper acetate.  When I got into this with the Museum Of The Fur Trade my work with copper acetate explained why large amounts of this went West through the Great Lakes trade routes.  Copper sulfate (Blue Stone) can be used to worm livestock but copper acetate is toxic.

So I played with both copper acetate and copper sulfate.
Copper acetate carries more active metal compared to copper sulfate so you can get a deeper more intense green color in the horn compared to when you use copper sulfate.

But these days copper sulfate is about all the average guy can find in stores.  Copper sulfate is sold in most garden supply centers.

Generally, you add as much copper sulfate to the water as it will dissolve.  Then a little vinegar.  Copper sulfate solutions exposed to air will cause the copper sulfate to convert to the water-insoluble copper carbonate.  Carbon dioxide enters the water causing the conversion.  The addition of vinegar prevents this conversion in addition to increasing the amount of copper sulfate picked up by the horn from the dye bath.

E. Ogre

Bruce B

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Re: Green color/dye for horns
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2010, 06:55:58 AM »
Thanks for the replies. I'm guessing that the horn is soaked in the bluestone solution, for how long? And is it a cold or warm solution?
Bruce

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Green color/dye for horns
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2010, 03:39:35 AM »
Thanks for the replies. I'm guessing that the horn is soaked in the bluestone solution, for how long? And is it a cold or warm solution?
Bruce

I always did mine at room temperature in the soak.  Some I soaked for a week.

Some horns are low density and very porous and will pick up a lot of the dye in a hurry.  Then other are very dense, hard and sort of non-porous and take a good bit longer in the bath.

The solubility of copper sulfate is determined by the temperature of the water you use.  The hotter the water the more copper sulfate you can get in solution and therfore the more copper you get into the micro-structure of the horn.

Clear horns lacking in color will tend to pick upo a good bit of dye.  When you have a white horn the white areas pick up almost no dye because the white coloring matter is deposited on the surfaces of the hair that make up the structure of the horn and this limits or actually prevents certain areas of the horn from picking up dye.

E.Ogre

Offline Luke MacGillie

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Re: Green color/dye for horns
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2010, 12:40:11 AM »
If you get horns from cattle raised in the woods, and in a hot climate, the green color is "Natural"

When I was doing some field work with the Cuna in Panama I picked up a natural "Green" horn.  All the horns I saw on still live cattle were also green in color.

Might or might not have to do with the bacteria and enviroment.....

Offline Chuck Burrows

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Re: Green color/dye for horns
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2010, 02:10:19 AM »
Luke I'd have to say it's most likely a localized phenomenen. I've worked cattle of several breeds and types - both milk and beef - here in North America from Penna to Calif and from Mexico to Central British Columbia and only in a couple areas have I seen "green" horns and those were in copper rich areas.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Offline Luke MacGillie

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Re: Green color/dye for horns
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2010, 05:01:26 AM »
Luke I'd have to say it's most likely a localized phenomenen. I've worked cattle of several breeds and types - both milk and beef - here in North America from Penna to Calif and from Mexico to Central British Columbia and only in a couple areas have I seen "green" horns and those were in copper rich areas.

I would have to go back and look at major minerals in the area.  This was "South" on the Pan American Highway right before it peters out before hitting the Colombian border.  Now I was not as fluent in Spanish at the time, but the way I understood how it was related to me, that the cows living in the woods/jungle vice pasture, and rubbing their horns on the trees, they picked up a "Bicho" that made the horn turn green.

Not like anything could ever get lost in the translation between Cuna to Spanish to Gringo mind ;D

Offline skillman

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Re: Green color/dye for horns
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2010, 07:56:53 AM »
F.W.I.W.
I have seen and used a number of horns that were natural green in color. I understand from several people that the green in these "southern" horns was a natural color. Haven't seen any of these in person so I don't know for certain.
Steve
Steve Skillman

Offline G. Elsenbeck

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Re: Green color/dye for horns
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2010, 04:43:35 PM »
Interesting thread.  I wonder what 'breed' is involved with these 'green' horns.  Chuck's explanation is one, but I keep thinking the breed of cow (dairy or beef) are/were involved.  Probably not like anything we have here in the states? 
And like Luke alluded to it could be their diet too.
gary
Journeyman in the Honourable Company of Horners (HCH) and a member in the Contemporary Longrifle Association (CLA)

There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Green color/dye for horns
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2010, 03:42:42 AM »
Copper had been used by the ancient Greeks and then the Romans to treat hides on the way to the tannery.  Pliny (The Elder) wrote about it in 50 AD in Rome.  Describing how he soaked reeds in gallic acid and then dried them.  He used these reeds to test the purity of copper acetate used to treat hides on the way to the tannery.  Some merchants would adulterate the copper salt with an iron salt (ferrous sulfate).  If the hide had been treated with the adulterated copper salt it would come out of the tanning process with black blotches on the hide.

Hides going into a tannery are still known as "green hides".

The copper protects protein based goods from both bacteria and insects.
Used in areas were common salt was scarce and expensive.

Keep in mind that someone new to the Rocky Mountain Fir Trade was known as a green horn.  That suggests that horns prepared for shipment around the world were treated with the same copper to prevent them from being eaten by bugs.

E.Ogre