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  • Making feather fans?

    My best friend and I just bought feathers at Pow Wow for our first feather fans. I am Iroquois and she is Cherokee (not raised traditionally though) and we want to stay within our tradition when making our fans. We have straight feathers to use for this. Does anyone have any ideas, suggestions or websites to lead us to? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Willow.

  • #2
    I have just started making feather fans. Loose feather and flat fans. The website for Crazy Crow has a section set up for crafts at: http://www.crazycrow.com/crafts/flat-fan.php. That is where I started. I would be more than happy to help you out with what little I know.

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    • #3
      I also recommend this book, "Beading in the Native American Tradition" by David Dean. I also like the video (for beading your fan) "How to Bead Native American Style" by Full Circle Communications.

      I found out about these, and other resources from OLChemist on this site and a person on another site "americanindiantribes.com" from a nice man named Hintamahecha.

      Please let me know if I can help in any way. I have derived so much pleasure from beading small ceremonial feathers and making one fan I want to do more.

      I am afraid, however, because I am white that I am perceived as a possible interloper. After all, we stole the land, we decimated your people, we took away the resources, generally lied and cheated and I don't want to "steal" sacred rites.

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      • #4
        One way to make a fan handle.

        I make my fan handles for flat fans with a thin slot for glueing the feathers. (I do this so I can bead before mounting the feathers. I just find that easier.) Since I don't own a router of any fancy wood working equipment, I make mine from three thin cedar boards (the kind used for lining closets). I cut two of the shapes without the U (off to the left below) and one with the U. Then I glue them together, with the slab with the U in the center.

        While the glue is drying -- let me discuss fringe for a moment.

        The round, shelf-like thing on the bottom is for attaching the fringe. You glue the end and wrap with thread or sinew. You can also omit this shelf and drill a hole in the end, and glue the fringe inside.

        Some people shape this fringe attachment area. They make it larger and tapered or rounded to give the end a different shape. This is a matter of personal taste.

        If I'm making a dance fan, I will fasten two pieces of fringe together with a nice bead. This makes a loop which you can put over your wrist as an extra "safety" feature.
        Attached Files
        Last edited by OLChemist; 08-14-2006, 05:58 AM.

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        • #5
          After the glue is dry, I carve, file and sand to round the handle and taper the top. I try for something like the upper of the below profiles. I like to keep the wood over the "socket" for the feathers fairly thin, so that I get a nice flowing shape without a huge ledge.

          You can also make your handle so you have a shelf on which to glue the feathers. This method requires you attach the feathers before beading and that you use wood filler or bondo to file the gaps and make a nice shape.

          After this shaping, I attach the fringe and cover the handle with leather.
          Attached Files

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          • #6
            A word on feather extenders

            Glueing the extenders (if you use them):

            You can use bambo skewers for extenders. The pointed end is easy to insert into the end of the feather. You can also use small dowels, onw which you'll have to carve a taper and usually a little shelf, since the dowels are thicker than many feathers.

            If the end of the feather is competely intact, you may have to cut a tiny bit off the gain access to the inside. If your feather is missing the lowever part of the quill or is splittered (common with the macaw feathers you'll find for sale at powwows), you will have to work the extender into the pith. A small drill bit, which you just turn with your fingers or a pin vise, will help with this.

            I use a glue which stays a bit flexible to glue the skewer. If I'm not covering the joint between the feather with a thin strip of rabit fur, I wrap the joint with a round of glue soaked paper. (This is what I always do if the shaft of the feather is splittered.)
            Attached Files

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            • #7
              Before gluing the feathers, I line them up on a sheet of cardboard and tape them down. (Use a good removable tape.) I find this helps me keep the feathers in the right alignment while the glue dries.

              Anyway, hope this helps. And sorry Bonibee it took me so long to get this posted.

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              • #8
                Thank you so much. I am going to try this the next time. I borrowed some tools from family and am very tired of sawdust in my face, glasses, mouth, backyard, cat, you get the idea (LOL).

                I'll try and upload a picture when I am done.

                thank you. Is there a place that I can snail-mail you some feathers for your time? Something like a P.O. Box?

                Thanks again, Bonnie

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                • #9
                  Thank you. Your respectful attitude toward our arts is thanks enough:)

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by OLChemist
                    You can also make your handle so you have a shelf on which to glue the feathers. This method requires you attach the feathers before beading and that you use wood filler or bondo to file the gaps and make a nice shape.
                    This is the method I use to make fans. For most 5-9 feather fans I can get away with using a wooden spoon as the base for my handle. I cut the top off of the spoon to get the "Y" shape, then rough out the shelf with a table saw set to cut at a depth just slightly deeper than the diameter of my dowels, or in a pinch I can rough out the shelf with a Dremel tool...

                    Instead of Bamboo Skewers when working with Macaws, I prefer to use dowels that I drill a small hole in the end. Then I set in Stainless steel welding wire with epoxy leaving approximately an 1.5 inches sticking out. The feathers are then cut and set on the pins with gel super glue. I like the wire, because once the fan is set--the wood putty or bondo is dry--I can go in with needle nose right at the base of the feather and the top of the extender and bend the direction of the feather left or right to get the spacing of the feather tips equal across the fan. This also allows you to "bend" the extender and feather angle, which IMO, give a nice look.

                    Here are a couple of the fans that I have made.

                    Hope that helps. It takes practices to get comfortable making fans. Good Luck!
                    Last edited by randyinkc; 08-15-2006, 01:26 AM. Reason: stoopid mistakes were korrected!
                    Randy

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by randyinkc
                      Instead of Bamboo Skewers when working with Macaws, I prefer to use dowels that I drill a small hole in the end. Then I set in Stainless steel welding wire with epoxy leaving approximately an 1.5 inches sticking out. The feathers are then cut and set on the pins with gel super glue. I like the wire, because once the fan is set--the wood putty or bondo is dry--I can go in with needle nose right at the base of the feather and the top of the extender and bend the direction of the feather left or right to get the spacing of the feather tips equal across the fan. This also allows you to "bend" the extender and feather angle, which IMO, give a nice look.
                      I do a similar thing, by adjusting the angle at which I carve the little shelf and shaft. With some care you can get the feathers straight and evenly spaced.

                      I use a fair number of pre-prepared skewers with sculpted thread. I'd be scared to death to try and drill into those tiny things, LOL.

                      Originally posted by randyinkc
                      I cut the top off of the spoon to get the "Y" shape, then rough out the shelf with a table saw set to cut at a depth just slightly deeper than the diameter of my dowels, or in a pinch I can rough out the shelf with a Dremel tool...
                      This is how I used to make fans. It does give a more compact line, which is nice. However, you do have to work around the feathers while beading. I still do this with fans I bead in Charlottes or 14/o's. But I use the slot for handles which I bead 18/0's or those with raptor feathers. I'm just not talented enough not to catch the thread on the feathers or fend off the cats for a week or two of beading. Those bobbing feathers are irresitible apparently, and I just don't want to take a chance.

                      Oh, another useful trick. Wrap the fringe in saran wrap and tape the wrap tight. This keeps the fringe from getting soiled while you work.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by OLChemist
                        Oh, another useful trick. Wrap the fringe in saran wrap and tape the wrap tight. This keeps the fringe from getting soiled while you work.
                        Yeah I have tried to wrap the fringe before but recently I have just been doing the beadwork up to the point where I have to put the fringe in. Then I insert the fringe and I only have to dodge fringe for about 1/2 an inch of beading. I like the saran wrap idea though. I'll have to try it. I've used rubber bands before, but that was only moderately helpful.
                        Randy

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by OLChemist
                          I use a fair number of pre-prepared skewers with sculpted thread. I'd be scared to death to try and drill into those tiny things, LOL.
                          I usually drill into 1/8th or 3/16th inch hardwood dowels. They make me more comfortable than bamboo. I have found it a little easier to do the featherwork on the bigger diameter. Skewers seem to be too small to feather wrap on. At least for my fat fingers. I use the smallest bit I have for my Dremel and it goes in with no problems....

                          I would like to learn thread stacking some time, but I dont have the fly tying jig to do it with, yet.

                          The only time I ever go dowel straight into the quill is if I am working with hand-painteds. They have a large enough quill to handle them. I have some pics somewhere of a 3 feather hand-painted that I made recently (dont ask me why they wanted only three feathers...)

                          I like to use Sulky thread both in regular and metallic to do my threadwork with, but I dont think it would work well with stacking.
                          Randy

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