DIY Painted Feathers

I’ve always loved the idea of painting fake feathers, and with festival season underway it seemed like the perfect time to do it.  I originally thought of these purely as decorations but then it occurred to me that they’d be a great finishing touch for a festival outfit. This is a great activity to do outside on a warm sunny day, and once you start it’s slightly addicting!

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What you need: fake feathers, paint (I used acrylic paint), and a paint brush.

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I got this paint from Utrecht and I love it.

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I added a little bit of water to the paint before applying to the feathers, and they absorbed the paint almost like watercolor. I love the way the colors bleed into each other.

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After the entire feather was covered I added some dots and lines with white paint.

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Get as creative and colorful as you want with the feathers!

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I wanted to add in some of the smaller brown feathers to my arrangement, so for those I kept it simple and painted them in colorful ombre shades.

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Arrange your feathers on a wall as beautiful spring artwork!

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Another idea: Stick one in a fedora for an awesome festival look.

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You can also use jewelry wire to attach a feather to a bag as a cute, boho charm!

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Bag pictured: Diamond Stud Crossbody.

More DIY Projects from the BLDG 25 Blog!

Photos by Julia & Brigette.

Comments

  1. So beautiful as decor! Where can I get fake feathers? Really don’t want to buy the real ones.

  2. yeah, I don’t think those are fake….but you can cut vinyl or leather into the shape of one and then add fringe by cutting into your ‘feather’

  3. Yeah, the feathers shown in those images are real, not fake… why would Free People lie about using real feathers? It’s obvious they are real.

  4. Oh and I should have said that I love this post and the DIY idea… I just meant to point out the weirdness that FP would say they used fake feathers when it’s very obvious from the downy base and the shaft of the feather that they’re definitely from real birds.

  5. Some great ideas here! I already paint feathers and sell them in my etsy shop (mostly for hair accessories), so some tips for other people who are new to this is to definitely mix the acrylic paint with a lot of water. You can always use several watered down layers of paint over one another to achieve a color. It gives you more steps to do, but it really helps if you want to avoid a hard and separated feather.

  6. I love these!
    How long did the paint take to dry? And did you wait for the paint to dry between colors?

  7. NEgan, it dried pretty quickly, i’d say no more than an hour! I did not wait for the paint to dry in between colors because I liked the way they bled together :)

  8. I’ve been trying to find feathers for forever now! I can’t seem to find the right ones. Is there any online store i can order it? I’ve already tried looking at Michael’s :/

  9. Definitely going to try this with my dreamcatchers! My store is eenk.etsy.com if anyone wants to take a look at some of the designs I came up with.

  10. The spotted feathers are guinea fowl feathers. They are very much real, and I’ve collected many naturally shed feathers that looked just like that when my family used to raise them. I’ve always loved the look of their speckles, and very much approve of the tinting you added to them :) The white feathers are likely chicken or turkey feathers, and might have said “faux” or “fake” in reference to the black marking pre-painted on them, such as “faux seagull feather”. The feather is certainly real, the marking, however, has been faked. Spraying your feathers with a fixative before and after painting might help extend its longevity ^^

  11. It’s important to keep in mind that in many states and on federal land, possession of feathers from certain wild birds is illegal, even if one finds them on the ground.

  12. I love the idea but were do you put the feathers do you put them in your room or in your hair.
    Anyway awesome idea I’m going to try it some time

  13. I come from the Netherlands and had a question for you; Do you have to use a basecoat? And how do you seal your work, are u using varnish spray or hair spray? Sorry for the bad Englisch. Love your work!

  14. I really think these painted feathers are beautiful gonna go to the store an get some feathers an paint. Great project for grandkids.

  15. OMG why are you calling these “Fake Feathers”…These are real bird feathers from birds farms. These farms are mostly in China. Hate to give you the image of what their life is like and how they extract the feathers..

    I so appreciate this beautiful creative artwork but needed to say something.

  16. I think the feathers are fantastic. Would love to put some on my Christmas tree. Where can I get the fake feathers from. I stay in Ballito. Thanks Coral

  17. Fantastic, would love to put some on my Christmas tree. Where can I get the fake feathers from. Thanks Coral

  18. I have chickens and I was wondering if their feathers would work? that way I don’t have to pay for the feathers at the craft store.

  19. In my hometown we can find natural feathers falling on grasses n on rooftops. I use that :)

  20. These are real feathers you have used! Most come from chickens or turkeys. Fake feathers are paper and you can’t do much with them. These are real!

  21. “Fake” because they are made to look like eagle feathers. They are real feathers, they just are not eagle feathers. “Imitation Eagle Quill” feathers are made from turkey quills and dyed/painted to look like eagle feathers. So, yes, your package said “Imitation” which applied to “eagle quill” not to the feathers themselves. They are real feathers, taken from real birds.

  22. Love these! I plan on using this technique for our next wreath. :) the patterns are so pretty, and using found feathers makes this super cheap and easy to do!

  23. YOu know i paint feathers too…turkey feathers that i find on the ground….But my feathers are rather waterproof and do not accept the paint easily. I find if i coat them with fabric softner first then they are no longer waterproof… I’m so surprised no one else has mentioned that waterproof problem…

  24. Deb, most natural feathers are waterproof, I use turkey and duck and chicken feathers along with any that I find out on my walks in the countryside. I haven’t ran across any issues as of yet with the paint adhearing. Apple Barrel, acrylic paints by Plaid. If I have any problems with the paint I will remember what you did with the fabric softner and try it.

  25. those are real feathers but not real wild birds I guess, seems like turkeys and goose feathers, so you can still say that’s fake…. absolutely great work

  26. I love this! This is exactly what I was looking for, I’m making a banner for my living room and wanted to use feathers instead of the usual triangles. Thank you!

  27. Those are real feathers. Also, it’s time to stop appropriating Native American culture and sacred art, bastardizing it, and making it “festival season”. Super offensive.

  28. Got a pack of feathers today at Michael’s Crafts. Salesperson wanted to know did I want the kid’s feathers or the better ones. Difference in cost was unbelievable, A pack of approx 50 (kid feathers compare to a pack
    of 2 (better feathers. Let you know when I get started whether it is worth the extra money…..

  29. i’m doing these right now. first one drying! question…. should i paint both sides of the feather? or just the front…

  30. Aw man, I love you Free People, more than anything, but those are real feathers. I sell dreamcatchers for a living and work with feathers daily. I find mine organically molted when possible. You can tell by the shaft and the natural fibers. I’m not sure what a ‘fake feather’ would actually consist of. The spotted ones are guinea, and the others are dyed, probably turkey. The package probably said ‘faux eagle feathers’ meaning that they are not eagle feathers (illegal to own). But they are dyed to look like them. Pretty dumb on the company’s part for misguided labeling. Easy mistake, unless you work with feathers on a daily basis, no one could be expected to recognize the difference. Beautiful work though! Thanks for sharing!

  31. Hey,
    I absolutely love your ideas! At the moment, I am working on a horse hair band to go on my new Akubra hat and I thought that this idea would look amazing and would really finish the project off. I tried to read the the colors on the labels of your paint (the picture) but some of them (especially the green) is too blurry to read. Can you (or anyone who has awesome eyes and knows) just tell me what it says please? Once again I love this idea and it is so pretty and creative IT LOOKS AWESOME!!!

  32. Very nice, and I do agree that they are not fake feathers. I have been painting on feathers for many years. These feathers are real although prepared for mass marketing into craft stores etc.. usually chicken..and some other birds too.

  33. Those are TOTALLY real feathers. And likely not harvested kindly. Check local bird rescues for feathers. I think calling them “fake” is like passing off some fur as fake in discount stores. This is a beautiful activity but I will be using my bird’s feathers. Please buy humanely.

  34. You can buy naturally moulted feathers sometimes on ebay. I’ve sold some on there before that are naturally moulted from my pet ducks and chickens and the money goes towards their food. I love the idea that they are being used for jewellery and crafts etc…better than just throwing them away!

  35. I live in Brisbane Qld Australia, I used to live on acreage and had lots of chickens guinea fowl turkeys ALL totally free range, even coming in the house certainly nesting wherever they wanted, sleeping in the tree outside my bedroom window. Feathers were everywhere as they roamed freely and I picked them up, washed them ran my fingers down each one and spread them out to dry on a towel. when totally dry i would collate them in sizes and types. Also there were wild ducks visiting my dam and a gorgeous Peacock who I called Andrew (we had a politician named Andrew Peacock) Andrew would molt and leave feathers all over the 3 1/4 acre property. I have these feathers still today more than 20 years later. Andrew’s feathers are arranged in a spaghetti jar beside my bed on a wee table.
    I feed wild birds on my verandah in the city of Brisbane, and the Magpies come into the kitchen waiting for their food from the fridge. I still pick up every feather I find in the garden or street and bring them inside and put them in a wee vase. Folk wonder why and i tell them these are a gift. Feathers are not being produced by mankind they can’t produce a product as clever as any bird.
    I could speak of the birds all day.
    Peace to everyone in the coming year. Judi

  36. Fai – So glad you like the post and the photos! Your offer is flattering, however, please be aware that images posted are owned and copy-written under this blog and may not be reproduced.

  37. OMG! how on earth can anyone look at a feather! one of the most beautiful complex creations on this earth! Actually look at it and say ‘ They are fake.. it said on the packet?? some of these comments are crazy. seems like turkey or goose so you could still say thats fake?? I have collected some from the beach on holliday once to put in a frame all natural as the come. I like the idea of painting your own desin I am not going to look into it further just yet as the realisation of mass market feather pluckers is sickening. I will apologise when/if someone can replicate THE GREAT MAJESTIC FEATHER X Good luck with that eh x Interesting reading on wiki type in FEATHERS if anyone is confused or interested x

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