No announcement yet.

Feather Craft

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Feather Craft

    Hi everyone,

    Here I am again with a question. Everyone was so helpful with the yoke pattern question, I decided to try another one.
    How do you straighten out feathers. Not the left and right bends but the front and back big bows that some feathers have. Unless they are straightened out it can make a bustle spike feathers look really bad.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    I'm not sure what left-right vs. front-back means, but if you mean the curve forward-back that gives the feather a bow, rather than the curve that makes it from the left- or right- side wing..


    If you're talking about fancy dance bustles and turkey or domestic fowl spike feathers, the best way I have tried yet actually came from a Noc Bay catalogue suggestion.

    I used to use the light bulb method, but Noc Bay ran a little blurb:

    You need a piece of board, a clamp, an iron with steam setting, and your feathers.

    Put the feather on the board, and clamp so that it is in the position you want it (ie, if you want the feather to lie straight, clamp it so that the curve is minimized).

    Then use a iron, with a STEAM setting, to iron along the quill, spending more time on the thicker part of the quill, and passing the iron occassionally across the tips of the feather.

    Once the feather quill is heated, let it cool, and unclamp it from the board. It will come off very straight.

    Things I found about this method:
    Be very careful when ironing, and don't spend too long on any one place of the quill; if you do, you'll get those little raised weals where the quill melts or crackles from the heat.

    I also pass the iron a few times over the BACK of the feather and quill, before I clamp it to the board and iron the front part. It just seems to always come out a lot straighter that way.

    After you've got the first one to the degree of "straightness" you want it, mark it, and use it as the model for all the rest that you do. That way, all your feathers will closely match and look good when you put the bustle together.

    Keep in mind irons differ. Get a few practice feathers under your belt (shorts, damaged, throw-aways), before you start with the set you want to use in your bustles.

    Just the way I do it, lots of other ways, too.

    I wouldn't do it this way if you're talking about raptor (hawk, eagle, etc), feathers. I'd use something more gentle and controllable, like the light bulb. (does anybody straighten
    raptor spikes???)

    Patience is the key! Good luck.



    • #3

      Thanks Grayback,

      That was a great description of how to straighten feathers. I want to straighten a couple of heavy quills used for spikes in an u-back bustle. I'll certainly give this a try. many thanks again.


      • #4
        I hope it works for you, Starburst.

        One other thing I forgot to mention if you use this method, is that you've probably noticed that some feather quills are a lot thicker and a lot more curved than others. You can reheat and cool, and reheat any feather as many times as you want to until it gets to the straightness you want.

        Also, on the really stubborn, curved ones, unless you have somebody to help you, you will go BONKERS trying to get the durn thing to lie flat against the board at the SAME time trying to put the clamp on by yourself, while holding the feather.

        When that happens, I find if I just iron the curve a few times
        by holding the feather against the board with my hand (don't iron your fingers, and watch the heat, because the quill will conduct heat from the iron to where you're holding the feather), I can get it straight enough that way, that it's easier to clamp down against the board for some serious ironing.

        If you try this method, and find any other 'tricks' let me know :)



        • #5
          feather craft

          Thanks for additional info. I just typed this and lost it so I am type it again. I have some extra feathers to experiment with. While I got your ear I have another question. I am new at making regalia. Well I did make this same bustle about 12 years ago and forgot how I did it. I got it from Grey Owl and I am really disappointed with the materials. The feathers a really bad and the instructions leave alot to be desired.
          Anyhow my other questions is, When you string the secondary lacing about 6 inches up the spin, it has a tendencey to draw some of the base fluffy into the hole in the spine. I was thinking about running the secondary lace first, then attach the fluffy and wrapping the end with yarn. Or is there an easier way to do it?
          Thanks for all your help.


          • #6
            I used an iron to straighten the feathers for the bustle I'm working on right now. It worked really well. You just have to be careful not to let it get too hot. Maybe you could test it on a "junky" feather before you do it to good ones (especially if they're eagle!). Also, you have to be careful not to move the iron against the fletching of the feather. That will ruffle them faster than anything, and it will be hard to get them to go back because the heat will make them stay in the ruffled position. Good luck!


            • #7
              The steam iron is fast and works good but it does have a down side. If you live in a humid climate the feathers will bow back to normal after a time. I personally use my fingernail to put a series of gentle crimps down the quill spaced about 3/4" apart. I have found that the feathers do not revert back to their normal shape as quickly if at all in humid weather this way. It take a lot longer to do them this way, but if you live in a humid area it is worth it, cause it is hard to re-iron them after the bustles are together.

              "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Pablo Picasso

              "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift...that is why is it called the Present." Master Oogway - KungFu Panda

              My comments are based on what I have been taught and my experiences over the years I have been around the circle. They should in no way be taken as gospel truths and are merely my opinions or attempts at passing on what I have learned while still learning more.


              • #8
                feather craft

                Thanks to everyone with your suggestions. I tried the steam iron on the feathrs and it works great. I appreicate all your input. This is a totally great website. Everyone is so hepful and friendly adn to newbies too. Many thanks again.


                • #9
                  NOT ALL FEATHERS WILL TAKE


                  Join the online community forum celebrating Native American Culture, Pow Wows, tribes, music, art, and history.

                  Related Topics


                  • Nashoba
                    Steamy Feathers
                    by Nashoba
                    I've beaded fans, but this is the first time to make a fan from the feathers to the beadwork. Someone from way down South gave me a lot of Macaw feathers from the Andes. All they told me to do was steam them and wrap 'em up they said. Help with steaming and wrapping? I don't understand any websites...
                    10-18-2004, 03:10 AM
                  • nativegal
                    Straightening Feathers
                    by nativegal
                    Hello all!
                    I bought a lot of Macaw feathers to make a flat fan, for my jingle, and I have ran into a issue. I need the feathers straighter than they are to make a flat fan. I was told to steam them or place them close to a hot lamp. Ok problem being... I steamed a IMMITATION eagle feather for...
                    04-26-2006, 09:34 AM
                  • DreamsOfEagles
                    Few Questions...
                    by DreamsOfEagles
                    Hello everyone..
                    Just to introduce myself im a 21yo guy whos
                    working on a fancy outfit right now..

                    first question is where is the best place to buy some good spikes at? i have a bustle kit that ive been practicing on from crazy crow, but dont think the feathers are that great......
                    07-07-2001, 11:51 PM
                  • ndnmannoko4
                    eagle feather bustle construction
                    by ndnmannoko4
                    hi all,
                    I'm making a set of eagle feather fancy dance bustles for my son and could use some ideas. I plan on using horse hair for the streamers but am wondering which is the best way to attach the hair. I could use some help on this one.
                    01-09-2006, 12:36 AM
                  • Guest's Avatar
                    Straightening Feathers
                    by Guest
                    Hey, I have some eagle feathes that have a slight curve in the quill. I was wondering if and how I could straighten them, and use them after that as a tail fan? I have a "fake" tail fan, but would like a real one as well ( Yes I know how to make the fan) just need some advice on the feathers...
                    07-08-2003, 01:52 PM



                  Sidebar Ad