Feather Painting





Introduction: Feather Painting

About: I adore instructables and use it when I'm playing with ideas for my students (I'm a certified art teacher and the Art Director for a children's summer camp). I have found that it fuels my creative process a...

Feather Painting is a fun and challenging way to express your art work on non-traditional media.  This is a native American painted on a turkey feather that was dyed to look like an eagle feather.  I did this as an example for some children who would be doing the project over the course of a few days.  A quick google search helped me to find a great picture of a native American that I used for my inspiration.  This is painted using acrylic paint and some very small brushes. 

Instructable on the process to come soon!



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    11 Discussions

    No particular offense meant (and I apologize if anything I say comes across as hostile) but just curious, when you showed this to kids as an example did you explain the significance of:

    -Why eagle feathers are given and who can wear them?
    -Why they are painted or decorated in some native cultures?
    -Why you chose the image of a Native American to paint on a feather?

    I only ask because I know of a few people that do this with parrot feathers, and they paint things like dogs, horses, sunsets etc - it just seems odd to me to dye a turkey feather to look like an eagle feather (which has a lot of meaning to it to certain peoples) and then paint a first nations person on it as part of children's project without fully explaining it.

    Again, no ill will meant, but things like this (even in soft ways) perpetuate a sense that native culture and regalia are something craftsy and from the past when that's not the case. I assume, for instance, that you wouldn't show the kids how to make paper/turkey feather headdresses :p

    3 replies

    No offense taken, I am actually glad you asked. Yes, I did in fact give the history and explained why the eagle feathers were important to some tribes. Why imagery was so important and why this native appears as he did. (The feather was no dyed by me, btw, it was bought this way. and I did not allow the kids do paint a feather mocked to look like an eagle feather)

    I explained why we were doing this project and how important it was to understand other cultures. I helped them understand this was not something we would want to do lightly or offensively.

    I personally live by five native American tribes, very rich in culture. (my mother also happens to have native American blood in her linage) In doing this project my goal was to bring awareness to the very different cultures of different tribes, and how we can't lump them all in as one people. (I also have a huge pet peeve with people referring to native Americans as Indians..because they are in fact are not.) The kids I was working with did not have the pleasure of knowing some of the great things about many native American cultures. (Some didn't realize that different tribes would do very different things in their daily lives as well as spiritual...which blew me away) Heavens, I'm also amazed at how many people do not know about mesoamerican culture, I mean goodness, there were tribes in areas of Mexico and south American who did successful brain surgery!

    Where I was working when this project was done, sort of made light of the significance of things like war paint, eagle feathers, headdresses, even teepees. It is a fact that has always bothered me. So, when I decided to show that you can create something on a different media I did so with intent to open the door of conversation. (In fact I also spoke to the chiefs of all the tribes near me to see if it would be offensive. This feather is hung now in the office of three-quarter blood Chippewa social worker, who is very active with her tribe.)

    I do not for one second think any cultures traditions should be looked at in a trite manner. The children did landscapes and birds. My example having a native American on it, was to bring up discussion.

    I also want to add, this wasn't for young kids, these children were 14+ (in my mind those are still very much so children) It also was not a crafts class, it was for upper level painters.

    I laughed btw when you said making a headdress. I wouldn't even DREAM of doing such a thing. My heavens, my guilt alone over it would kill me. I know, however of people who have done such things in places like schools, craft classes and camps (to name a few). It repulses me. Perhaps because I grew up understanding the culture, knowing a lot of people of native American decent and the depth to appreciate other cultures and their beliefs.

    Anyway, I appreciate that you would ask the question, because I agree not done in the right hands it would/could be quite offensive. You have also given me the venue to voice all of the above. My goal was for a fun project that also educated. :) (oh and btw when I do my instructable on this...which I've started, it's a sea turtle)

    Thanks again :) Please feel free to ask more questions if you wish. :D

    Awesome! That makes me feel a lot better :)

    I was just worried because there's a handful of other instructables on the site that kind of push some questionable lines - like one of the 'chief hat' 'ibles that has the tag 'halloween' on it, and is based around using a baseball cap with the bill cut off :p

    Still looking forward to the day we see the death of the hipster headdress xD

    Oh goodness! It tells me some teachers out there did not do a good enough job in their social studies classes explaining different cultures and respect of them. Perhaps as well parents who are unaware they should instill that in their children. My hope too is it's changing, but man it sometimes takes a TON of time for change to happen. :)

    This is crazy (in a good way). I would never have the skill to do this, although I hope I could!

    2 replies

    Thanks :) It was labor intensive, but luckily I get stubborn and do not like giving up. You would be surprised at what you are able to do if you try :D