Feathers make a great adornment for hats of all shapes and sizes. This month, our international partner HATalk e-magazine shows you how to curl feathers to make an extra special hat trimming...
Birds’ feathers have been used by milliners for centuries. So many different colours, sizes, textures and shapes of feathers can be found in nature and many work as stunning hat trims exactly as they are. Sometimes, however, curling, shaping or manipulating feathers can really make your hats stand out in a crowd.
Like our finger nails, feathers are made out of a natural protein called keratin. When heat is applied, they will bend. Milliners sometimes use steam, boiling water or a curling iron to shape their feathers. Georgina Abbott, owner of Atelier Millinery in London, finds that a ceramic flat iron works best because it can reach a higher temperature and stay hot.
To try this at home, you will need:
A long feather (eg a single goose feather)
A ceramic flat iron (hair straighteners)
A permanent marker to match your feather
To curl a feather, switch your flat iron on and allow it to come up to full temperature. Holding the base of the quill firmly in one hand, close the flat iron around the bottom of the feather and pull it all the way through, twisting your wrist as you go.
Your hands should pull in opposite directions - with the hand holding the flat iron going up and the hand holding the feather going down, or vica versa if you want to create a curl in the other direction.
The more you twist the flat iron, the more interesting a shape you will create. If you don’t like the curl that you’ve made, straighten the feather and start again. You will find that the end of the quill takes longer to curl due to its thickness.
Once you’re happy with the curl, you can strip one side of the feather for an even sleeker look. To do this, hold the top point of the feather between your thumb and forefinger and gently pull the ‘vanes’ of the feather away from the quill with your other hand, as shown in the photo below.
If you are using a dyed feather, you will now have exposed the white quill. You can cover this with a permanent marker of a matching colour. You may need a couple of coats to get a deep enough colour. If you can’t find a permanent marker in the right shade, you could use a felt tip pen instead. Nail polish would also work well, although you would need to add a little bit of thinner to make sure that it goes on evenly.
Once the colour has dried, you can use the flat iron again to perfect the final curl.
This project was taken from HATalkIssue 94
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