Sunday, March 30, 2014

Workshop Retrospective: Advanced Feather Ornaments with Lynn McMasters, part

What we made:
Besides the faux wings I mentioned earlier, we made Ostrich pompoms, a feather spray with a curled quill and a curled and gathered plume.

Find Lynn’s classes and articles:

My inner cheerleader busting out!  Yay Pompoms!
Get out your pompoms!  The simplest project of the class, I think the pompom may have been my favorite.  I love how much movement the floaty feather fronds have, it is lightweight and could be used on lots of different styles of hats. They also remind me of some of the puppets I made in college in puppetry class - arguably the best class I took as a Theater major.  Feather fronds add life and movement to puppets, if you look at the Snuffelupagus on Sesame Street, he has lots of feather fronds on his body, and feather eyelashes make him look like he is blinking.  
Feathers also add life and movement to hats, which is a very good thing.  You don't typically wear a hat to avoid attention, you wear it to make your outfit more fabulous and to draw people's eyes up to your lovely face, showcasing your best features.  A puffy pompom over your 'best side' can really draw attention.  Plus they are fun, and I am all about fun.  
Also in the fun category, pompoms make good toddler ticklers, but use with caution, as a toddler can demolish a pompom in 10 seconds flat if they get their cute sticky tiny hands on them.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of my little toddler cutey covered in ostrich pompom explosion, I was too busy trying to get the little fuzzy bits away from her before she ate them.

There are a lot of variations possible too, using dip dyed feathers, partially burned feathers, trimming the ends, using multiple colors, and size.

The pompom was fairly simple to make, Lynn had great tips on how to get the best results, and what kind of feathers work best.  I used a slightly damaged dyed black ostrich plume that was about 12” long to make my pompom.  It has some insect damage that made it less suitable for other projects.  The pompom seemed smallish to me at first, until I put it on one of my unfinished cloches, then the scale looked great.

The most time consuming part of this project was stripping the barbs off the quill, but the whole project took less than an hour.

Feather Spray with curled quill
We used the quills left over after making our pompoms for the next project, along with rooster saddle feathers.  Saddle feathers are different from the usual coque or tail feathers.  They are less curved and are slightly pointed and wispy at the tips. 
We curled the quill with a medium barrel curling iron, and removed the lower fronds from the saddle feathers, leaving just the top 2 inches intact.  After they are stripped, they are almost leaf-like in appearance, but with the lovely floaty movement of feathers.  The feathers can be dyed and the quills painted or colored with markers to match.  My quill was from a dyed black plume, so after stripping the sides were white.  I liked the black and white effect, but it would have been easy to color in the white sides to match. 

I think the next time I make one of these I will use more of the stripped saddle feathers, to give it a little more volume.  Lynn also suggested using them in clusters of three together, which would also add volume and interest.  I pinned it to a cloche to give an idea of what it looks like on a hat, but I wouldn't usually use this by itself.  Maybe with more picks or a pompom or silk flower.  In fact, this would look pretty neat in the center of a silk flower instead of stamens.  Feathers are pretty easy to dye or get pre-dyed in lots of colors, so there is a lot of potential uses for these.

In my next post I will talk about the craziest project we did in class: the gathered and curled plume.  I had never seen one of these before, and I would have never figured it out on my own.