Last month I attended a great workshop with my Leather Guild taught by the famous Jim Linnell. If you've ever done a Tandy leather kit or picked up their catalog, you've seen Jim's work. For our full-day workshop, we carved and painted a 14" full-size eagle feather. I'd never done any leather carving or painting, so this was my first time using a lot of new tools, including hair blades and the infamous swivel knife. Thankfully my fellow Guild members where right there to help me along. The above photo shows the feather sketched out with the hair blade marks and the stem roughly carved.
After carefully cutting the feather hairs using the hair blade tool (typically used for animal hair), we cut out the feather (photo above) and then skieved the back so all the edges would feel light and airy (photo below). Most folks used a safety beveler for that, but I only have my skiever, which took off the leather pretty quickly. That small pile of leather shavings is only about 1/4 of what I peeled off the back.
After the back was skieved, we added a small wire along the back feather stem and covered it with a piece of suede so it wasn't noticeable. This would later allow us to curve and bend the feather to look more realistic. Once that dried, we cut section of the feather so we could separate it out and began curling the edges. Here's where things really started to come together and feel like a true feather.
At this point I was ready to stop and antique dye the piece. However, being that part of our workshop was to learn how to paint leather, I put aside my personal aesthetic and decided to see what the paint might do. Besides, I figured I'd be making this again in the future, so may as well experiment now.
Here is the painted and finished feather. The paint did an excellent job of helping camouflage wonky areas and give the feather a more realistic feel. Not sure if some kind of feather will make an appearance in the Canoe shop, but I was pretty happy with how it all turned out. What do you guys think?