Feathered Ornaments

This years new tree has taken on about five different permutations in my head. I originally had it in my head as an “Exotic” tree, and at the time I was thinking of feathers and animal print, paying homage to South Africa where Bear spent a couple of years and I’ve always had a deep affinity for. But the more I thought about it, the more I was afraid of it getting tacky. You know that lady with the big hair and four different animal prints in her outfit? I didn’t want a Christmas tree that looked like that lady.

So then I thought about adding ornaments that were influenced by places in the world that were exotic to me – India, Morocco, Africa, China – but as I started to plan it I kept coming up with ideas that were a whole lot closer to home.

So I’ve changed my focus and instead of an Exotic tree, I’m making a Woodland tree. A tree that looks like the animals in the forest got together and decorated something for their own party. Wood, moss, leaves, berries, birds and their nests, pinecones, little forest creatures, I’m loving how it’s turning out.

And it all started here:

Feather Ornaments

I have a garage full of craft supplies from failed business endeavors, and one of those boxes is full of feathers. I bought pounds and pounds of feathers years ago for these feather topiaries I was making. I still think it was a wonderful idea, but this was pre-etsy and every time I tried to sell them people just gave me this look and asked, “but what are they for?”

To be pretty! Is it that complicated? Ahem. I think I have some lingering bitterness to work through.

Anyhoo, I long ago donated all the feathers that were just plain old dyed chicken feathers, but the really good ones I just couldn’t bear to let go of. This is what I was always coming back to when I started thinking about an animal print tree.

Feathers sewn together

When you buy good feathers, this is how they usually come. Sewn together in a long row. Even the ones I’ve bought at Michaels come this way. This will save you a whole lot of trouble.

Wooden Discs

For the ornaments, I got these 1 1/2″ wooden discs and stained them with some wood stain I had lying around. These will just cover up the messy ends.

Cover the back with hot glue.

Back of Ornament

I cut off about 5″ from the big row of feathers, leaving the sewing in tact. You can cut smaller segments off the 5″ piece, or, if you’re fast, you can just stretch the whole piece around to touch itself, and stick those ends in the glue. It’s important to really stretch those feathers or else you will use up a whole lot more feathers than you need to. Not only will this cost a fortune, but it won’t look great either.

When that glue cools, I just stuck it in the branches of the tree.

The feather garland is even easier. I cut small segments off the big row of feathers, maybe 1/2″ wide, maybe a little bit bigger, and then glued the segments together.

Gluing Feather Garland

I spread hot glue all over the ends of the feathers, and then I’d take the next feather segment and overlap it with the last. It couldn’t be simpler. Just watch out for hot glue peeking through the feathers. It’s been years since I had a good hot glue gun burn, but boy howdy is that streak over.

The cats are going a little bit crazy over this new tree. I think by the holiday I might be willing to give one of them away.