Several months ago I dyed some bone hairpipes I purchased at Shipwreck Beads in Lacey, Washington.
I used a dye meant for protein based fabrics and added some alum to the dye - about a tablespoon of dye and a teaspoon of the alum. I boiled the dye and alum in a cup or two of water (so much for scientific methods!) and added the beads, which I washed with dishwashing liquid beforehand to remove any coatings and oils.
The result was disappointing.
Then, after digging the beads out of storage one day, I had the thought of buffing the beads on my buffing wheel. What a difference that made!! I have two cotton buffing wheels on my machine, one plain and one that I rub with beeswax. I switched from one to the other and ended up with some really nice dyed hairpipes!
See the difference? Plain hairpipes on the top, then the dyed hairpipes lower left and the polished hairpipes on the lower right. I'm happy I didn't throw the beads out before the lightbulb went off! I have another example of some bone beads I dyed, antiqued and polished coming soon.