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.
Step 1: Gather Tools and Materials
- 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
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
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.