So. If you’re anywhere in the world that has been experiencing winter this year, you know that it pretty much has universally sucked. In Ottawa, and Canada in general, we just got wind that winter isn’t ending anytime soon. In fact, the forecast is so depressing that our country’s senior government meteorologist has gone into hiding. I kid you not.
So I’m doing what I do every year and going into denial. I’m going to pretend it’s spring with a pretty fake bouquet in my front hall.
I picked up a bag of feathers from Value Village for $1.99 about two weeks ago. Inside the bag were four packages of craft feathers from White Rose, which was a craft supply store similar to Michael’s that went out of business when I was a teenager.
Three packs of white chicken feathers and one pack of dyed chicken/other bird feathers.
Also, holy smokes feathers are staticky.
I didn’t want an all white bouquet with accents of brown, so I decided to dye the feathers to suit my mood. I’ll leave the ones that are already coloured for something else.
Find a dye-proof container (usually a glass bowl), and drop in 4 cups hot water, 2 teaspoons white vinegar, and lots of food colouring in the colour of your choice. I went with red, purple, and orange.
Jam those feathers in and squish them down. You want to bedraggle them as much as possible. You can un-bedraggle (undraggle?) them later once they’re dried.
Leave them in the dye baths for 5 to 15 minutes. The longer you leave them in, the darker they will get.
I picked plastic bins for my dye batches because I could cover them when I left them unsupervised. I suspect if you have small grabby children this might come in handy.
Pull the feathers out of the dye baths and set them to dry for several hours on a paper towel. Just a warning that until the feathers are completely dry, they will still stain things with food colouring, so be careful where you set them.
I thought that the orange batch was doing better than the other two, and I later found out why. In the orange batch, you can see that I only have two of these long feathers with the rounded tips. All the other ones have the flat tips.
In the red/pink, the proportion of long round ones is higher. For some reason these round ones are more waterproof (I’m sure someone who knows more about feathers knows why but I don’t really care).
The purple batch had the most round feathers of them all, and so came out the palest overall.
But I wanted variety, so variety I got. And I also dyed my fingers quite well.
Once they’re dry you can fluff them out again.
Then I took a spool of thread and got to winding the feathers together at the stems, one by one, starting with the smaller ones in the centre.
I added larger and larger ones as I kept going, eventually tying off the “bloom” with lots of thread left over.
One down, several more to go …
This is definitely a job you will want to do while watching or listening to something else.
When I finished, I took a branch I found in the park and used the loose thread to wind the feather bundle to the thread.
The Pie thinks the pink ones turned out the best, with the colour gradient, but I’m partial to the orange ones.