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Picture of How to wire wrap a feather - method 1
This is a relatively simple way to wrap wire around the shaft of a feather to make it easy to add to a piece of jewelry.

You will wrap wire around the feather shaft as well as part of the wire, which creates a nice tight wrap that prevents the feather from falling out.
 
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Step 1: Gather tools and materials

Picture of Gather tools and materials
You will need:

- feather
- 26 gauge wire - your local craft supply store should carry this
- wire cutters
- round-nose pliers
- flat-nose or chain-nose pliers (I used chain-nose)

A note about pliers:

Really, you could do this all with a single pair of needle-nose pliers, the kind you get at a hardware store. You won’t be able to get perfectly round loops, but if you don’t mind the look of a square-ish loop, go for it (I don’t have photos of this). You could also form the loops by wrapping the wire around a thin stick, like a bamboo skewer; the pliers just help hold the wire still while you wrap it.

Also: most pliers not intended for jewelery-making have ridges/serrations on their jaws. These will mar the wire, which is a look you  might like, but if not, wrap some tape (electrical, duct, whatever) over the serrated parts to protect the wire.

Step 2: Form the hanging loop

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Decide how much of the feather shaft you want wrapped with wire, and use the round-nose pliers to make a loop that far down the wire. By wrapping wire around the feather AND part of the wire, you will have a firmly wrapped feather that won't fall out of the final coils of wire.

I recommend at least 1/4 of an inch to maybe half an inch; beyond that, it is an aesthetic decision: do you want a lot of wire, or only a little? Longer feathers might need more shaft wrapped in order to look right, even if they don't need that much for purely structural reasons.

After wrapping the wire once around the pliers, bend the long end of the wire back in the direction it came from, so it wraps around the short end (photos 4 & 5). This will make it easier to start wrapping the long end of wire around the feather in the next step. There should be a bit of a gap where the long wire crosses over the short one; you will insert the tip of the feather shaft into that gap.

You want the short end to be sticking out straight from the loop, as shown in the photo, so that the feather will hang straight down. Small gauge wire is easy to bend, however, so if things aren't completely straight when you end, you can adjust it when you are done with the wrapping.

In the example shown, this was a tiny feather (I do not recommend using a tiny feather for your first try; it is hard to hold onto), so I wanted to have almost as much straight wire held against the feather as there was bare feather shaft.

Step 3: Wrap the wire around the feather

Picture of Wrap the wire around the feather
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Cut the wire free from the spool (unless you are better at planning than I am, and cut out 4 or so inches already). The long end of the wire needs to be about 2-3 inches to wrap around the feather shaft.

Insert the tip of the feather shaft into the gap at the base of the loop, with the short end of the wire against the shaft (cut end pointing toward the body of the feather).

Grasp the feather and short wire together tightly. I used my fingers, but you may find pliers easier. (With a larger feather, pliers would be easier; I wasn't quite coordinated enough to manage slippery wire, small feather, and pliers.)

The shaft of the feather will probably be thicker than the wire, so grabbing both with the pliers can be tricky because when the feather is held, the wire is not, and it will tend to fall free - you have to really pinch hard, which will tend to squash the feather shaft so it is the same thickness as the wire - but that's okay! You won't see any resulting damage when it's done!

Wrap the long end of the wire firmly around and around the feather shaft until you have covered the short end of the wire. Firm loops of wire will basically squash the feather shaft against that short piece of wire, and hold everything together.

You can either continue wrapping the feather with wire if you want the look, or cut it off.

Step 4: Add feather to jewelry

Picture of Add feather to jewelry
Use the loop at the end of the feather to hang your wire wrapped feather from an ear wire, or a jump ring (useful for adding it to a necklace), or anything else you want to hang it from.

I've been meaning to make a feather necklace and some earrings to match, so this is a really helpful tutorial. It's very clear and easy to follow :)

AngelaJamene made it!1 year ago

Thank you for posting this! We find lots of feathers on our property (among other things) and this is so far my favorite thing I've done with them! These ones are some rougher medium sized ones that I cleaned and hadn't regroomed but I loved the way they turned out with the bells and looser wrapping.

I couldn't have done it without you! Thank you again, this technique can make such a variety of styles :)

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Great, clear directions! Delicate work. Thanks.
Master978652 years ago
Oh my gosh. I've had a few gorgeous red robin feathers I wanted to do something with and this is perfecttttttt
maevonnie3 years ago
Awesome, I love making my own jewelry! Thanks for the post. Just as a reminder, be careful of using real bird feathers because they could hold the canine parvovirus, which would affect any dogs or other pets that you have.
jfeathersmith (author)  maevonnie3 years ago
The feathers I've used have either come from my own birds, which have had almost no contact with dogs, or they've come from commercial feather providers, which sterilize the feathers.

If you have a source for realistic looking artificial feathers, I would love to know about it!
Barrettkg4 years ago
Great pictures. This 'ible would have been impossible without them.
jfeathersmith (author)  Barrettkg4 years ago
Thanks! I'm glad they worked as hoped.
MissRisa4 years ago
Great tut! My Mom and I have had soo many birds with wonderful feathers and haven't found a way to use them and I thought this would be perfect!
I was wondering though is there a nice way of hiding the cut end of the wire at the end of the coil? Mine seems to stick out and when I try to take my pliers and "tuck" it in there's no where to tuck it.
Thanks again for this awesome tut :)
jfeathersmith (author)  MissRisa4 years ago
You might be able to put a really sharp bend into the end of the wire, and kind of smash/crimp that into the coil so that the end is hidden. I usually just crimp the very end really tightly so the end doesn't poke out - and cut it at the right spot first so that the cut end is not on the visible side! Filing the wire end before you tuck/crimp it will also reduce the risk of hurting someone.

I suppose you could always cut a little scrap of fabric or ribbon or something and glue it over the end of the coil, too.
kiva224 years ago
beautiful! where do you get feathers that tiny??
jfeathersmith (author)  kiva224 years ago
Thanks! I have parrots, so I end up with A LOT of feathers. These little blue ones are alular feathers from my green cheeked conure (see diagram down the page here: http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=15+1829&aid=2776).
l8nite5 years ago
my eyes hurt just thinking about doing  that ! Nicely thought out and executed "ible"
jfeathersmith (author)  l8nite5 years ago
Thanks!

The close-up photos probably make it look more eye-straining than it was. I wasn't actually working 3 inches from my nose.