Designing with Feathers Presents a Problem / by Chris Maynard

 Swallow Perch.

Swallow Perch.

Feather shapes and sizes are quite limited. How does one arrange a typically large, long and skinny feather into a wider picture? Many of my pieces center on a single cut feather. In order to create a pleasing, unified, creative design that tells a story or conveys a feeling, there has to be more to the design than just the single feather. That is, unless the final picture is long and skinny. I prefer not to do that. I have placed feathers drifting off a preening bird image to fill the space. Sometimes I add small feathers to balance a picture as with a cut-feather silhouette of a bird singing with feathers coming out of its mouth. Using two or more large cut feathers has sometimes solved the dilemma.

Working feathers into unified designs is all part of a vexing but rewarding process of creation. Sometimes I wish wild birds would grow big wide, wide feathers to make this process easier. But that wouldn't help the birds very much would it?