Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pheasant Tail Feather Experiment

This is how I started out my day, with a hammer. Just a typical day, I wasn't intending to smash feathers but that's what happens when I'm left alone with a hammer.
I pounded along the spine of a Pheasant Tail feather thinking maybe, just maybe it would make the spine pliable enough to bend easily after steaming. NO, the spine split perfectly down the middle. Hey, I can dig it. I've tried to cut a feather in half with an exacto knife. It was the perfect recipe for disaster, for the feather and my person. In my world those knives aren't so "exact-o.
I cut into the flues just above the black marks on each side of the feather to give it that step look. So far OK.

I then steamed it in a bamboo steamer on top of the stove, my usual, and while that was happening I covered my ironing board with a piece of clean muslin, not my usual, then pulled the feather out of the steam pinned it into curls and steam ironed the heck out of it. I pressed down with pressure and lifted and moved to the next spot shooting steam onto it. I smelled a plastic burn and realized I was melting the supposed glass top straight pins I bought a gajillion years ago. Note to self "Do the burn test on everything first and cover the world with muslin for protection.
After all that pressing back and front the result? Just O.K. The inside of the spine is white so I used a permanent marker in black to cover that up. I added another feather with more or less the same treatment to make it look fuller. I'll look at it for a bit and decide what to do next. Maybe somebody can come up with a better way to curl? I have a palette knife I use for curling. These curls I wanted to go in the opposite direction than if I used the knife.
The End or is it? BTW I just watched an amazing film "Stairway to Heaven" Director Michael Powell. He did The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus. Beautiful..


Cristina - madhatter wannabe said...

A serendipitous and interesting discovery... Looks wonderful.

I should buy my self one of those bamboo steamers...

Armando y Montez said...

I'm going to smash some other feathers and see what happens.. I guess we all ready know but you know the old saying.. I just made up.. Give me a hammer and I'll smash some feathers.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

I always just curled feathers against the edge of a knife or scissors or desk, depending on how much curl I wanted. Did the same with the flues. Occasionally I softly bend the shaft if it is really thick in several places before I start.

Finding out that you can get a perfect split with a hammer: Priceless!!!!

Now to find a way to make the curl stay in flues in humid weather.

Karen said...

I'm new to this game, but only tonight I got fabulous result with a flat iron (for hair) curling dry feathers saved from our parakeet five years ago. I'll remember your splitting trick! Thanks!

Armando y Montez said...

Karen, Thanks for that Curling Iron Tip I will try it. Now all I have to do is convince my friend of letting go of that 80's do and passing the iron to me!