Monday, December 19, 2011

Repeating Patterns in Feathers

                                                                            Lewis Pheasant Body Feathers

Feathers are at their most beautiful on the bird.  This is how it should be and how the birds mean to show off their feathers.   On the body, each feather overlaps and shows only the tip in a repeating pattern—usually a variation of a diamond pattern.  The color and pattern and sometimes structure in each individual feather is geared toward the part that is exposed, what you see on the bird.  

This close-fitting, repeating pattern with no spaces in between is part of what keeps the penguin and duck dry.  It’s what makes the snipe and the grouse blend with its surroundings and hard to see.  The tight repeating feather patterns keep birds smooth and aerodynamic.  Some male’s brightly colored repetitions of feathers in certain places attract the females—like a peacock tail.

My feather-art uses single feathers, divorced from the birds but I still like to bring out the theme of repeating patterns that is so important in feathers.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The best known bird in the world

What’s the most familiar wild bird in the world?  The pigeon.  Its native home is Europe but has spread to cities all over the world.  Since most people live in cities they see pigeons on the sidewalks, wires, and parks. They might pick up a feather and wonder about its qualities.  For many urbanites, this might be their sole connection with feathers.

This is one reason why  I like to work with pigeon feathers. They aren’t very colorful and don’t have a lot in the way of patterns but they are great in black and white.  Especially their tails, each with the band of grey in the middle.

Want a small something to search for on your travels? I am planning a piece of feather art using pigeon tail feathers from every large city in the world.  So pick up a dropped pigeon tail feather you find from Moscow to Buenos Aires, stick it between pages of a book and when you get home or during your travels send it to me:  8211 Ayer St. Olympia, WA 98501 USA