In last week’s blog, we discussed some of the considerations when it comes to making or buying your first set of ostrich feather fans. We talked about potential cost, quality, size and manageability and what type of staves to use.
We’re now going to take you step-by-step through how to make your own set of fans. We aren’t saying this is the only way, but all the tips and ideas here have come from almost a decade’s worth of experience in making feather fans, things learned through trial, error, blood, sweat and tears…
MATERIALS: What will you need?
*Ostrich feathers – the number will depend on the size of your fans and whether you have single or double-layer. For example, a small single layer set might only have 6-10 feathers per fan, whereas a larger set might have 12-16 (or twice that, if they are double-layered). A good tip is to always buy a few more feathers than needed, especially if buying online rather than in person, that way you can pick out the best ones to use.
*Staves: wooden, acrylic or bamboo
*Ribbon: to thread the staves together
*Fishing or beading wire: to bind the feathers to the staves, can also be used to thread staves together
*Paint: suitable for use on wood
*Glue: we recommend Hi-Tack Original
*Tools: scissors, hack saw, fine glue brush, sandpaper, screwdriver, braddle
STEP 1: Preparing Your Staves
Once you’ve gathered all of your materials, the first stage is to assemble and / or prepare the staves on which you are going to mount your feathers. If you purchase a ready-made set of staves, you can skip to the next step.
Top tip: bamboo staves can be purchased from many online belly dance shops. However, I often find that while the staves are reasonable quality, they are threaded together with a rather scrappy-looking shoelace-type string and the screw is often rusted. Yuck! It doesn’t matter how lush your feathers are; if you mount them on bare, cheap-looking staves it will instantly diminish their look and impact. Take the time to re thread them with some nice ribbon and then jazz them up a bit. Which brings me to the next sub-step…
If you are using wooden or bamboo staves, you have the option to paint or varnish them before you attach the feathers. Unless you are particularly keen on a natural finish, it can be nice (and make the staves more attractive) to paint them to either match or contrast the feathers. Use a couple of layers of paint and allow them to dry completely before attaching your feathers. If you want some added sparkle, ‘paint’ the staves with (clear-drying) glue once the paint has dried, and sprinkle some glitter over them. Allow the glue to dry, tap off the excess glitter and varnish them or use another layer of glue to seal the glitter in.
Top tip: Always check your staves for rough edges and splits before you start. Discard any staves that are cracked (even if a tiny crack, it will grow under the weight of the feathers and eventually break). Smooth down any splinters or rough edges before you paint.
Join us again next week for Part 2, when we’ll talk you through preparing your feathers and beginning to assemble your fans. If you missed last week’s blog, The ABC Beginner Guide to Feather Fans, catch up now.