Cutting feathers?

On a recent trip to the art museum I saw Chinese head dress with this incredible electric blue color. It turns out that the color comes from Kingfisher feathers that have been painstakingly cut out and glued to silver. It got me thinking that perhaps we could laser-cut a feather. Obviously we’d have to secure it or it’d blow away, but could this work? Maybe secured with some sort of non-toxic glue?

The photos don’t do justice to the real life color.
Kingfisher feather jewelry


Feathers are organic so probably. I think the bigger question is how you convince the kingfisher to sit still :smirk:


Maybe some kind of varnish or resin on the back to bind it together before lasering? And even more exhaust filtering than usual.

In the US at least, you may want to be careful about which species you use feathers from, even if you just pick up discards. (I was at a school field trip with the younger to a place that does raptor rehab, and part of the FAQ spiel included “No, you may not pick up and take home feathers from the raptors unless you want to risk a federal conviction for wildlife-law violation.” Also “No, you may not take a raptor home with you. Not even one of the cute ones.”)


Beautiful! Just be careful with what kinds of feathers you use. Birds of prey are so protected that you can’t even pick up and use their shed feathers that you find on the ground in your own back yard. Some poor woman made a present (I think it was a dream catcher) for one of the political elites back in the day, and was rewarded with the wonderful news of a federal investigation & prospect of a huge fine for her efforts.

Ridiculous, but them’s the rules…

Edit: Ha, beaten by less than a minute

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Jinx. owe me a soda.

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And alas there’s a reason for those rules – way too easy for someone unscrupulous to say “Why, yeah, sure I found all these feathers as discards.”

But I was still a little bit amazed that apparently there’s a federal office that collects raptor feathers for distribution to native american groups who have a grandfathered right to use them.


I thought that was only for bald eagle feathers.

At any rate, if you want fun with feathers look up your local fly tying shop. They raise various fowl just to supply fly fishermen. A few years ago the fashion gods decreed long, pretty feathers to be the thing in hair styles. As fashionistas were willing to pay more for feathers than the fly fishers there was a several year absence of the most colorful feathers from America’s streams.


In my experience, it only takes a chair, a cooler of beer, and a list of chores to be done when they get home.


The smell of burnt keratin protein. Yummy.


That’s a cool idea!

This guy drops feathers often enough. I’ll be sure to see what happened when I throw one of them into the Forge when I get it.


What a clever idea!

As others have already mentioned, most wild bird feathers are protected in the US. The list of protected birds is long, and in addition to raptors, includes a number of migratory birds and songbirds. For this reason, commercial feathers might be a better option - though something to be mindful of with those is that many are treated with insecticides that range from borax to mothballs to ??? That’s not intended to be discouraging … just food for thought.

This fellow creates incredible feather art - I’m pretty sure that it’s all hand cut, too!


Not in the least bit nice. Just can’t place a word that means “no redeeming qualities whatsoever”

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Better be careful, he might see you and either ask for royalties or a custom feather do…:wink:

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so basically burnt hair and finger nail smell?


Yes, that stink - and I’m thinking the edge of the cut would kind of melt, like a singed hair.

I saw a picture of a parrot that was made with butterfly wings that had been trimmed to look like feathers. Artwork from Africa, it was really beautiful.

Feathers are pretty cool but there are many other things that can be used to get brilliant colors and inlay them onto metal or wood. I checked out turquoise mixed with resin and it is amazing how they turnout. Just a thought since feathers will eventual deteriorate. Just a thought.

The idea of novel ways to add color in inlays makes me think of fordite.
I wonder if it’d be possible to recreate the effect on a smaller scale to make colorful layered chunks to shape into projects.


We’ve laser cut paua and engraved walnut to create an inlay that’s absolutely amazing - I’m sure there are lots of other organics you could do this with, including feathers. But yeah, stinky.


Amen. Be extremely careful of your source (what the feathers actually are) and do your due diligence. A citation and confiscation from your friendly game wardens is not in anyone’s best interests.

The confiscation will most likely include your laser cutter used to make said product.

I’d love to see a photo of this!

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