The feather cage…
Do you remember those silly camp crafts with the sticks (or tongue depressors) and the yarn, where you weave the yarn around the sticks and eventually a) you have something that would be hung on a wall in the 70s, and b) the sticks don’t move anymore? Our camp lady called them ‘Ojos de Dios’. That’s basically what I’ve done here, using a pipe cleaner. It’s just an over-under weave, like the bottom of a basket. (I’m a highly referential crafter. I only know so many solutions, so I try to use the ones I have over and over to avoid all the trauma of learning something new.)
What? Ok, here’s the deal…. Feathers come from birds, right, and they’re meant for flapping and flying. You need to secure them fairly tightly when you work with them. Normally, we wire or hot glue (sorry, it’s an ugly truth, but a truth none-the-less) them within an inch of their little fluffy lives. Usually, this is done using a very solid surface. Or, maybe, if you’ve got a little extra time on your hands, you’d pierce the spine and sew it to a heavy wire that can be fixed to a hat or headdress. (Truthfully, though, the times I’ve gotten my hands on show-girl headpieces, they were rather crap and the feathers were hot glued between arches made of cardboard.) I don’t have a lot of time on my hands. I also don’t have a cast of trained show girls who have to fear that they’ll be replaced if they damage the feathers. (Because I don’t live in Vegas, that’s why.) I have actresses (and worse, actors) who mostly think of costume as a cool dress-up situation when and if they think of it at all. Some of them will entertain notions that I ran out to Showgirls-R-Us and bought the headdresses. So I’m not expecting them to be as reverent as I’d like them to be. The wire frame will be basically indestructible, but the feathers…. Oh, the feathers. Feathers are pretty easy to destroy. So I need a way to secure them, but also be able to replace them.
So my cunning plan is to insert the feathers through the loops at the end of the wires, and push them into the styrofoam ball. The styrofoam will keep the ends secure so the feathers don’t flop about, and the wire loop can be crimped over the feather spine to keep it in place. And yes, I’m a paranoid costumer. As a milliner, I’m generally terrified. (I get choreographers who have people do summersaults in bowlers that have bunny ears sewn to them. I’m not even kidding. It took two weeks of mangled ears and constant repairs before we found out what was happening….)
At this point, we have a working feather holder. We need to attach this to the wire headdress frame. Now, my original plan had been to wire these to the frames. Unfortunately, through the general miracle of me being like me, I’ve managed to use the same jig six times, and turned out six slightly different headdresses. Only two of them are quite precisely the right dimensions for my little cages to be wired in, so I need a backup plan. I decide to hot glue the cages to the frames. Now, there’s not a lot of frame there to glue things to, so I need to get it partially fleshed out and covered before I can go farther….