Easy Crafts With Feathers
Feathers are a marvel of natural engineering in action. Beyond providing lift, camouflage and winter warmth for our feathered friends, they make amazing craft materials. Feathers are often inexpensive, wonderfully textural and easy to work with. Let's take a look at some fun and effective ways to use fabulous feathers in craft projects. You'll be surprised at how satisfying feathering your nest can be.
Where To Buy & Use Feathers For Crafts
You can buy feathers at your local craft shop or online, or make use of the feathers you find in nature. If you're a feather collector, it's important to clean any feathers you find before you use them. Soak feathers in a mixture of two tablespoons baby shampoo to two quarts of water for 15 minutes. Rinse them in plain water and let them air dry on a paper towel.
Although most feathers can be used in at least some projects (like pillow making), not all feathers are worthy of prominence on a project. Either they are just too plain, or they're bent or otherwise unattractive.
If you take a close look at a feather, you'll see that it's actually a series of slender hair like segments affixed to a shaft or stem section. Contour feathers typically have colorful, well developed tips in a fan or arched shapes, center sections that may also look well developed and attractive, and lower sections filled with downy hairs.
How To Strip Down Off A Feather
Even though some projects use whole feathers (with the down), many make use of only the colorful tops. If you're stuffing a pillow, by all means save the down, but if you're decorating a hat or making jewelry, strip off the down (bottom part) for a prettier feather. Here's how:
- Grasp the feather's shaft between your thumb and index finger.
- Decide where you want to start stripping the down and grasp that area with the thumb and index finger of your other hand.
- Apply even pressure in a downward motion.
- Keep pulling until the down comes away from the shaft in an even layer. (It should look somewhat like an eyelash strip.)
- Use the same procedure on the opposite side of the feather.
- Once the feather is stripped, store it flat to avoid damage or use it immediately.
You can use the discarded down to stuff blankets, pillows, quilts and other projects, so don't throw it away.
Even if you like the idea of a dense, thick feather, it's still a good idea to remove about a half-inch to an inch of down from the end for use in your projects. That's the part that will be sewn, tied or glued in place. You'll have a more uniform, tidy craft project, and one that's easier to work on, if you take the time to evaluate and trim your feathers before you use them.
Use Feathers For Stuffing
Even though feathers are beautiful, not all feather crafts use feathers for display purposes. Feathers make excellent insulation. That's why the best comforters on the market are filled with feather down. If you collect feathers in bulk, or like to sew and have access to duck or goose feathers, consider using them instead of poly fill for pillows and baffled box stitched blankets, and also to stuff decorative fabric balls and children's plush toys. You'll be surprised at how comfortable, warm and sumptuous feather insulation and stuffing can be.
Feather Craft Ideas
It's pretty amazing what can happen when you let nature inform your fashion choices. A feather accent on a collar or cuff, a few feathers adorning a broach or a feather treatment in a hat, headband or handbag can give your clothes and accessories rich color, effortless texture and unexpected interest. Feathers are more versatile and sturdy than you might think, too. Although they may not survive a swirl in your washing machine, you can easily make feathered accessories that snap or hook in place. That way they'll be easy to remove for laundering garments. The natural pigment in feathers seldom fades, and with common sense care, feathers can last for years and still look as good as new. There are lots of feather tutorials on the web you might try. Here are some fun feather fashion crafts you may not have considered:
- Hair bands
- Feathered earrings
- Derby hats adorned with feathers (this is an easy one and so much fun)
- Feather tiaras
- Feather accents on evening bags (with beads and silk flowers)
- Feather shoe ornaments
- Feather adorned buttons
Feathers in Art and Decor
After you finish making yourself fashionable by adding feathers to your outfits, look around your home to see how feathers can enhance your decor. A tall vase filled with ostrich, pheasant or peacock feathers works in even the most elegant room. Even better, feathered decor accents can add holiday charm or work as year round decorations too. Fill an apothecary jar with white feathers and gold ornaments for Christmas, or use brown and orange dyed feathers at Halloween.
Put together a table centerpiece of your favorite mixed flowers, and then add a few feathers for interest. In fact, why not make an entire centerpiece out of pheasant or ostrich feathers for your anniversary party. It's a dramatic touch everyone will remember. Here are some other feather decor ideas:
- Cover an old lampshade with feathers for a new look -- and a diffused glow -- in your room.
- Place them in a decorative, shallow bowl with acorns and pinecones.
- Add decorative feathers to your drapery tiebacks.
- Make a wreath of feathers for your entry this fall.
- Place colorful feathers in clear ornaments for one-of-a-kind Christmas decor. They look spectacular.
Fun with Feathers
Kids love the gentle tactile quality of working with feathers, so that makes them fun accent materials for kids' paper crafts. Consider using feathers the next time your child makes a birthday card or designs his own refrigerator masterpiece. If you don't mind lending a hand, make a dream catcher with your child. It's a great way to banish nasty nightmares:
Here's what you'll need:
- 6 inch wire ring
- Raffia ribbon
- 2 to 3 yards of thin twine
- A clothes pin
- 5 Feathers
- Wrap raffia ribbon all the way around the ring. To keep the ribbon from unraveling, clamp the end (starting point) with the clothes pin. When you're finished, the wire won't be visible and you'll be back at the starting point of the ring.
- Tie the two ends of ribbon together leaving a hanging loop.
- Tie the length of twine to the ring and create a pattern of loops and knots from side to side. Get creative and weave the twine in and out. When you have a pattern you like, tie the end of the twine in place, and cut off the excess.
- Cut the excess twine in five equal lengths between 7 and 9 inches long. Tie a feather to one end of each piece.
- Position the pieces of twine evenly across the bottom of the ring. Tie them to the ring with the feathered ends dangling free along the bottom.
Hang the dream catcher above your child's bed.