Monday, February 9, 2015

Using native bird feathers

As you can see I am using kereru feathers for this school korowai. This has come about because DoC had a lot of kereru that needed using and it seemed appropriate for this school. However I needed to apply for them from the joint Ngai Tahu/ DoC committee and then get an authority to hold the birds while I worked on them from DoC according to the Wildlife Act. After these were duly received. I was able to pick the birds up from the museum where they were held. The school is also going to need an Authority to Hold when I hand over the korowai. So it is quite a complicated process but at least I am covered. 
However I got ten birds and they varied in size and condition. Two were beautiful big birds that had white fronts and little damage. The others had stained fronts that didn't whiten and some were badly damaged. So the number of useful feathers varied. However even the best ones only provided perhaps two rows of bundles. The feathers can have quite thick shafts so are awkward to use. 

I am using three sorts of feathers for this design. The 'white' front feathers; the grey back ones and the darker ones from near the wings. The birds are frozen so I thaw them for half a day then pull out the feathers I want sorting them as I go. Some are a decent length but some I have had to layer to get enough to turn up the ends

When I have pulled out everything useful the bird is still quite feathered. 
But the rest if the feathers are too stiff or too small. Sometimes a little meat comes attached to the feather and I pull it off or cut it off. Not for the squeamish. 
Kereru have a particular odour which I don't like so the feathers are all washed. I would hate to go to all this work and have it rejected because the kids didn't like the smell. Unfortunately washing and drying them can take the natural oils out and the feather may not act like a feather should. But I can cope with that for the sake of no odour. 
These are the piles of bundles from those two birds when ready. There are enough I hope for four rows plus some tiny bundles I hope to use as a 'collar' at the top. These are too small to have a turnover so I will have to do three rows over them to secure them. 

I really don't think I will use kereru again both because of the feathers themselves being too difficult to use and because of the legal ramifications of using native feathers. 

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