After figuring out the first method, I decided to try a slightly different approach; here are the instructions.
In this method, you start wrapping the feather close to point on the shaft where the fluffy part of the feather is, wrap wire up to the end of the shaft, form the hanging loop, and then wrap a little bit of wire back down the shaft to secure the end of the loop.
I prefer the first method. It seems simpler and I liked the appearance of the wrapping better.
Step 1: Gather Tools and Materials
You will need:
- 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: Wrap the Feather Shaft With Wire
Decide how much of the feather shaft you want wrapped with wire, and use the round-nose pliers to make an open 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.
Gently bend the wire so that the short end and the long end are roughly at right angles to each other.
Insert the feather into the open loop so that the short end of wire is aligned with the shaft, and pointing to the end of the shaft. The long end of wire goes behind the feather (see image) and will be wrapped around the feather and the short end.
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.
Again, leave part of the end of the shaft bare, because you will finish wrapping that after making the hanging loop.
Step 3: Form the Hanging Loop
Gently straighten out the wire and use the round-nose pliers to create a loop at the end of the feather shaft.
Step 4: Finish Wrapping the Wire
Hold the feather firmly with your flat-nose pliers (you can grasp the loop you just formed, actually), and wrap the remaining wire back down the shaft. This will secure the loop to the feather, and cover up the shaft that you left bare in a previous step.
Cut off any excess wire, or wrap it all around the feather.
The feather is ready to be added to jewelry or decorations or whatever.