In the video above I show how I experimented to learn how to make paper mache feathers.
One of the experiments worked beautifully, but the other one didn’t. Be sure to watch the video to see why.
In the screenshots below I show you just the method that actually works. I can think of tons of different ways to use these feathers in addition to paper mache bird sculptures. Perhaps a copy of an ancient warrior helmet with hawk or eagle feathers on top. If the quill is made extra-long, they could be used in dried flower arrangements. One of them might make a nice bookmark. Tiny ones would make interesting ear rings, although I’m not sure how long they’d last.
If you’re thinking of using the feathers in a costume of some kind, remember that those wires will really hurt if someone trips, so don’t put them anywhere near your eyes.
You can find the owl video here: https://www.ultimatepapermache.com/snowy-owl-adding-feathers-with-paper-mache-clay
How to make paper mache feathers…
Step 1: Cutting your wire.
The first thing you need is a thin, bendable wire. For one feather I used an aluminumum armature wire that I had in the studio, and I used tie wire for the other one.
Any wire will work, but if it can rust, like the tie wire does, you’ll need to cover the exposed wire with masking tape before adding paper mache.
Step 2: Cover your wire with tape.
Pull out some tape. Put the sticky side up, put the wire on top, and then fold the tape over so the sticky sides stick together. Don’t cover the lower end – the quill.
Smooth the tape down really well so you can see the shape of the wire.
Step 3: Brush glue on the outside of the tape.
I think any PVA glue, like Elmer’s Glue-All, should work, but I used wood glue. Don’t use any more glue than you need, or the paper might wrinkle.
Step 4: Put a strip of paper over the glue on each side of the feather.
Use either copy paper, like I did, or newspaper. Make sure that your piece of paper is large enough to cover all of the tape.
Be sure to press the paper down tight, so the shaft still shows up well.
Put the feathers aside to dry for a few hours or overnight. It’s best to prop them up so air can reach both sides. That will help them dry evenly.
Step 5: Draw the shape of your feather on the paper mache.
Every bird has a different shape to its feathers, and each feather on an individual bird may have a slightly different shape, too. If you have a particular bird in mind but you don’t have a real feather to use as a model, just do a Google image search to find one.
Step 6: Cut out your feather along the drawn lines.
Step 7: Paint your feather.
As soon as the feather is cut out, it’s ready to be painted. Be sure to find a model for the painting, too. Every feather is different. I haven’t painted mine yet because I’m not sure how I want to use it.
If you make some feathers using this method, or a method you invented yourself, we’d love to hear about it. And if you have any ideas that would make these paper mache feathers even better, please let us know in the comment section below. 🙂