OK, so I won a partridge skin on eBay for below $30. I set $28 as my max price b/c I can get great skins from featheremporium.com otherwise for $30 at any time. Mind you, it took me several tries b/c I'm not a dedicated eBay guy and am not in the habit of being online at the close of an auction so I can outbid someone by $.50. With no offense intended, actually scratch that, if offense taken, so be it, folks who act that way kinda make me scratch my head - too many other good and fun things to be doing than bird-dogging fly tying materials on the internet... Maybe that's just me...
Here's the skin I purchased: #1315 below
I secured brown jacquard acid dye and some white vinegar and here's what I ended up with: #1317 below
I'm actually reasonably pleased, and even somewhat proud of the result. One thing I learned in the process was that having a soft bristle old toothbrush to brush out the feathers as they dry is important. In the dying process, everything turns into a matted mess once you get the skin to saturate in the dye bath. The other point, I'm happy that I was ahead of is that often these skins are boraxed as part of the drying/preservation process, and unless you wash them prior to dying, you're fighting an uphill battle as the borax is a drying agent, and on feathers, it, and the feather's natural oils want to shed water, not accept the dye.
I began this process b/c I've been tying with Whiting Brahma hen for soft hackles and the legs on copper john's, the collar on prince nymphs, etc. I've found the Brahma feathers to be webbier than I'd like whereas partridge always seems to separate out nicely into individual fibers which to me look buggier. I'm pleased enough with the result that I've ordered jacquard dye in Olive and am going to do another.
Thanks for the encouragement to give this a shot! Comments, thoughts, critique and corrections all welcomed...