Lockdown Crafts: Pheasant Feather Baubles

With Daughter taking Mondays off work (with annual leave allowance to use up by the end of the year), we’ve decided to use those days for a bit of craft activity. Welcome to Crafty Mondays! Unlike the wax melts we made last week, this week’s makes took me until Thursday to finish off. I’m pleased with the result though.

I have quite a collection of feathers, mainly pheasant. How I came to have these is another story.

Daughter had seen these Christmas tree decorations on Pinterest and had wanted to try making them for a while. The tops of the baubles are made with the ends of cartridge cases, so she’d asked some friends who shoot for some spent cartridges we could use. The brass part is attached to a plastic tube so I looked online and found a great way to separate the plastic from the metal – you pack the cartridges into a shallow box with the metal parts upwards, proud of the box, then rest an iron on top, turned to the highest heat setting. After a few minutes the metal heats up enough for the plastic to start to melt and the two components pull apart quite easily.

For our decorations we used polystyrene balls as a base. We painted these with acrylics first – the darker ones worked best. I wouldn’t use such a bright tan colour next time as it showed through the feathers. Impaling each ball in a toothpick was the best way to hold each one and these were stuck into a piece of polystyrene packaging to dry.

We only used the tip of each feather, snipping off 1-3cm pieces.Further down the feather the central vane is too thick and rigid to bend round the ball shape.

Starting at the lower end, with the smaller feather tips of similar colour, we glued these on in a circle, overlapping slightly with the tips meeting in the middle.

We continued gluing on the feathers (using a light coating of PVA glue, thinned slightly with a drop or two of water). Each circle of feathers overlapped the previous one, covering the cut feather ends.

At the top end the last circle of feathers was glued in place with the cut ends together, close to the toothpick.

Where there was too much of the base colour showing through, I simply touched this up with a black Sharpie. The feathers were then sealed in place with a thin coat of clear PVA glue.

Next we cut about 12 inches of gold thread, knotting the ends together to form a loop. The knot was then glued to the inside of the cartridge end with hot glue. Holding the thread to each side of the cartridge, hot glue was applied along the edge of the cartridge end. It was quickly positioned centrally over the cut feather ends and held firmly in place until the glue set.

The loop was then threaded through a gold-coloured bead which was secured to the top centre of the cartridge with another drop of hot glue.

We made seven baubles altogether in different sizes, a couple with the barred dark brown and cream hen pheasant feathers, and the rest with the rich chestnut, black and cream cock pheasant ones. The brass tops go well with them.

I just need the tree up now…maybe at the beginning of December!