Food Color as a Tinting Dye?

I am building a hardwood nativity for my wife. This project is as much craft as woodworking but I want a nice end product. It is made from Oak, Oak Ply, Walnut and Maple. I would like to tint some of the oak to simulate grass or other colors. Really don't want to buy a can of poly-shades for greens, reds, etc.
I have read that you can dye hardwood with a mixture of water, food color and a few drops of vinegar. Has anyone tried this, and does it work well? Some of the tint will be on Oak ply. Any other suggestions for a tight-a** Irishman who doesn't want to buy $30 worth of stains for less than a brush worth.
Thanks
RonB
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You'll need to let them dry thoroughly before applying a top coat. Do a test sample to see how colors bleed.
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Go down to your local dollar store and buy a kids water color paint set. You know the kind, a metal or plastic tray with hard puddles of paint in the depressions. It likely will not be very color fast and will fade over time but as a nativity scene it will probably not see much light over the course of a year. How's that for cheap? Art
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I am not much on folklore or handed down recipes, so forgive me, butwhat possible purpose would vinegar serve in this equation?
You can easily use the food colors the way they are right out of the bottle. If they are too strong, dilute them with isopropyl alcohol, the kind sold over the counter. Look for 70% strength, but the 50% should work find if that's the stuff in the cabinet.
This will not be very color fast, but if it is for inside use, it will work fine. To help set the colors, use a coat of clear exterior finish such as clear enamel from a rattle can.
We have been coloring our stuff in the woodturning club this way for years. Talk about tight... those guys wrote the book. I showed them how to color their turned ornaments with red and green dye and it has been a hit ever since then.
Robert
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For a great, clear, finish over . . .whatever. . . try cyanoacrylate glue. Put it on generously, then when it's penetrated and cured, buff with a brown paper grocery store-type of bag.
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Nonny

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Magic markers dissolved in acetone.
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Nonny

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