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Mother of Pearl - Will it take a dye?

I searched the archives and was not able to find anything on this
subject. I need to dye MOP shell at the request of a customer.
First question - will the shell absorb enough of the dye to give me
something more than a pastel/light color? I’m not looking for
dramatic dark colors, but something in between the two. I plan to
use RIT - does anyone know of a product that would be better than
RIT? The other problem I think I’m going to run into is that all of
the shells I’m looking at appear to have a thin layer of lacquer
applied to them. Any suggestions on what would be the safest way to
remove this lacquer before I end up ruining all this shell? I’m
assuming I’ll get a better dye without the lacquer…Or better yet -
does anyone know of a supplier that will sell me natural MOP with no

Better than RIT dye would be Procion dyes, from your better craft
store, such as Pearl Art and Craft. You’ll have a much greater
range of colors to choose from.

There are two types – one for cotton and one for wool/silk. So you
have to determine which would work better with the MOP. The dyes
come in powder form and you mix them. The one for cotton is fiber
reactive, the one for wool/silk requires heat.

Elaine Luther

Hi, Years ago we used to dye mop beads, so we got in touch with the
"Guild of Buttonmakers" or some such in UK because they used to make
billions of mop buttons way back when, and they recommended using
powdered leather dyes (aniline) dissolved in alcohol, and heated in a
bain-marie type arrangement (pan of dye sitting in pan of hot water
on the stove). Alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water so you
don’t have to boil the water…Dip the shell and leave in the dye
until you get the right shades after rinsing in cold water.It worked
ok for us.As for removing lacquer…we use acetone or sometimes nail
polish remover works.

We’re also looking for MOP suppliers so I’ll be interested to see if
anyone knows of someone. regards Steve Holden