How to Make Paper Mache Feathers

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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…

thin wire for 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.

Put the wire inside masking tape
Smooth the tape over the wire

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.

Brush glue on the outside of the tape.

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.

Put a strip of paper over the glue on each side of the feather

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.

Draw the shape of your feather on the paper mache.

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.

Cut out your feather along the drawn lines.

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. 🙂

23 thoughts on “How to Make Paper Mache Feathers”

  1. Hi.
    I have discovered your site a little over a year or so ago and I have made several paper mache projects. My current paper mache adventure is making these feathers for a wall art piece. I would like to attach them to a canvas I have painted and added texture with paper mache. Do you have an adhesive recommendation?

  2. Hi Jonni!

    I am currently working on a quetzal sculpture and so far it’s coming out great. I’ve made the primary and tail feathers using your method above. The quetzal tail feathers are almost 3 ft long – they’re pretty robust as is but because of their length I’d like them to be a little bit stronger before painting them. Do you have any suggestions on how I could strengthen them? I thought about adding the silky air dry clay but worried it might make them too heavy and thick. Would the DIY gesso or a similar mixture help in this situation? Thank you for all you do!


    • That’s an interesting question, David! An almost paper-thin layer of the air dry clay would make them stiffer, but it might be easier to get that thin layer by using the original paper mache clay recipe, instead. If you use a little less flour than the recipe calls for, you can spread it very thin with a knife. I’d suggest making one feather and testing it before doing all of them. And I do hope we get to see your quetzal when it’s done!

  3. Hi Jonni!
    Just discovered your site and I’m hooked! 🙂
    I am making a huge fruit still life and need a couple of leaves — grape and apple. I tried your method out and the leaf is so big it’s floppy — using brown paper is a good idea! I’ll try that next.
    Thank you for the tips and the inspiration!

  4. This method also works for leaves…for anyone needing to add greenery to their paper mache pumpkins this Halloween!

  5. Perfect timing for this feather inspiration, Jonni!

    I, too, am going to be making large wings for a torso sculpture, and have been mulling over how to do it.

    Presto! A great idea to play with!

    My angel wing(s) need to be colorful….so I’m going to do some experimenting doing this technique with pre-colored paper or fabric (likely fabric). Fabric soaked in glue works really well on sculptures (as shown in my “Whimsy the Giraffe” and “Rainbow Dinosaurs” …I’ll just need to see how the edges look when I cut it.

    An experiment for later today!!

  6. fabulous idea – I`ve been making a (huge) dream catcher for my back yard and was looking to find the right feathers on the ground – so now I can actually make my own, how great! Thank you!

  7. These are really cool. I’m not sure you would even need to use the tape first. I think you could glue the wire directly between two pieces of paper, as long as the paper isn’t too thin.

  8. Thank you so much! I’ve been wanting to make huge angel wings, as they are pricey to buy, as well as not quite the right size!
    My plan has been to hang huge angel wings on the front doors of the church on Christmas eve! Then I’ll scatter a few small feathers in the narthex (foyer). There’ll be no mistaking the angel came.

  9. I have been wanting to make huge angel wings to put on the church front doors on Christmas eve…I can afford these, Jonni! Thank you! I thought a few small feathers scattered in the narthex (foyer) would add a cool touch!

  10. Hi Jonni
    What an absolutely brilliant idea! Feathers!
    Thank you for sharing your ideas and experiments. I can see a lot of uses for this one.


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