Monthly Archives: February 2013

Famous Feathers – Downton Abbey (of course!) and the Reeves Tail Feather

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This wonderful feather, from Downton Abbey Season 3 – Martha Levinson arrives, is the tail of the Reeves Pheasant rooster. We raised that kind of pheasant in our flock, as well as others.

The historical fiction of Downton Abbey, Season 3 by is not only fantastic, it is full of glorious feathered headpieces that are keeping me busy with my blog series about uses of arts and crafts feathers in history, literature, and film.

I hope that the creators of the pbs special are using cruelty-free feathers, because it matters, and that said… we have to give Shirley MacLaine our full attention.

She is playing Martha Levinson, mother of Lady Grantham, and for her triumphant (for her) and dreaded (for Lady Grantham) arrival, she is wearing a magnificent feathered hat.

The feather is from a Reeves Pheasant rooster. We raised Reeves pheasant, and we were lucky enough to raise a rooster (also known as cock).

The pheasant do shed their tail feathers, or they can come off in natural, non-tragic, accidents, like when our rooster-boy was basking in the sun on a cold winter day and his tail froze into a shaded puddle on the aviary ground.

When he took off, his tail did not, and I was able to scurry out with a blow dryer and extension cord and claim the tail feather. It regrew, but it took time. He was more embarrassed than injured.

Martha Levinson’s hat feather has been curved and trimmed, showing the exotic pattern in a very fine way. You can’t see how long the Reeves pheasant tail feather can get from this hat piece – it can be upwards of two feet long, tapering at the end.

I don’t sell the Reeves pheasant tails, but I do have their body feathers in my specials and samplers, as well other spectacular feathers from the crest and body. And other feathers that appear on the hats of Downton Abbey.



Martha Levinson, the mother of Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern).

Silver Pheasant Feathers For Arts And Crafts

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silver pheasant wing feathers at

Silver Pheasant feathers are perfect for arts and crafts and ours are cruelty-free feathers, even if the Silver Pheasant themselves were kind of predatory.

The Silver Pheasant is, by far, the most uber-cool bird for feathers for arts and crafts.

We raised our flock of pheasant in a way that means these are cruelty-free feathers. But the Silver Pheasant were not of the same philosophy. They hunted our other birds like a pack of raptors, but they did it with stealth.

We didn’t figure out what had happened to our Ringneck Pheasant until much later. We thought a predator had gotten into the pen, and then escaped after the kill.

The Silver Pheasant were the predators. Once we separated them, as we should have done in the first place, they stopped hunted. They didn’t attack each other. They did stalk us though.

The males are white with black markings, and the females are brown on brown. The males have glorious red face armor, and red legs – crowned with enormous spurs. Their chest and belly are clad in black feathers that are actually so iridescent that they flash teal, purple, green, and cobalt in direct sunlight.

When they are about three years old, their wing and tail feathers defy description. White with penciled black markings, no feather quite the same.

Silver Pheasant feathers are primarily available from overseas, and our stock is limited, but we are very proud to be able to offer them.


Just A Couple Of Chickens Is Now Available as an E-Book!

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Just A Couple Of Chickens is now available on Kindle! (and as ePUB!)

Just A Couple Of Chickens is now available on Kindle! (and as ePUB!)

Available in both Kindle and EPUB formats, Just A Couple Of Chickens is now an ebook!

This is the book that I wrote describing the creation of, and the natural feathers featured on this site.

You can find the Kindle version at the Kindle Store on, and the ePUB version is listed at Smashwords – soon available on Barnes and Noble and the Apple iBookstore.

It was my vision to have as a real book… and after I had achived that, I plunged in and swam my way upstream in the tech flood that is e-book.

I’m starting to dig e-books, but last night my battery died and I was dismayed. I love real books. I love the paper and the covers and their presence. I love librarys and bookstores and stacks and stacks of books. I love that they don’t run out of juice. Ever.

I do love the e-reader devices. I am amazed and delighted, as a reader, that I can change the font, size, margins, background color, and screen brightness. As an author and book designer, I am scandalized at that loss of control.

But I need to remember to plug in my darn book. It’s a new world and it doesn’t work well when I misplace my charger.



Just A Couple Of Chickens is now available in just a couple of formats!

Category: Feather Facts

Famous Feathers – A Feather In The Hat For Downton Abbey

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downton Abbey at has fantastic feathers

Famous Feathers In Art, Literature, and Film. My series begins with, of course, Downton Abbey season 3 at

For anyone interested in feathers for arts and crafts, being able to recognize the feathers worn by famous people throughout history is a fun skill.

My blog series about Famous Feathers is designed to do just that. Although most of the historical feathers I will spotlight are probably not cruelty-free feathers, we can hope that modern artists are keeping that in mind as they create new ones.

This series had only just begun – (this is the first post) – when Season 3 of Downtown Abbey provided me with enough gorgeous, astounding, amazing, exciting feather headpieces to keep me going for a year!

Feather headgear in the 1920s and earlier was big business in the United Kingdom. It was not only fashion, it was also politics. Status, influence, public relations… it was huge. And the kind of feather, placement in the hat or bad, height, color, reach… conveyed a language all of its own.

The 1920’s, which is the setting for Downton Abbey’s third season, would be known as the Roaring Twenties in America, but for England, it was a time of change for the aristocracy – wearers of the famous feathers.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 had outlawed some of the feathers that used to be used in making the headpieces, so milliners had to be more creative with the legal feathers. They did this by shaping, dyeing, trimming, and using different parts of the same species over and over again.

We kick it off with the Lady Crawley and her elegantly understated wedding rehearsal hat. A dark cloche with a pinned up brim, secured by a floating froth of tan, beige, to dark brown – whatness? I’m guessing Ostrich floss feathers. The floatiest of frothiest plumiest floss that comes from underneath the wing.

I don’t currently sell ostrich feathers, because the cruelty-free feathers for arts and crafts for sale at are from our own flock of humanely-raised pheasant, partridge, quail, chickens, geese, ducks, and turkeys.

But someday, ostrich, emu, rhea!  I do have emu… which is a foreshadowing of the next Famous Feathers post. Who is wearing emu at Downton Abbey?


What Are The Best Feathers For Jewelry

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the feathered egg feather jewelry

While peacock feathers are a clear choice for beautiful feather jewelry, there are many other kinds of feathers that top my list.

Choosing feathers for jewelry making is the fun part. The birds themselves wore their feathers for jewelry, as well as for lifesupport – and we can see why. The feathers are gorgeous.

Cruelty-free feathers are getting more and more important to feather jewelry makers, because the artists use a small number of carefully-selected feathers, and put a lot of time and thought into the art. Good karma feathers are an expression of their art.

Pheasant feathers lead the feather jewelry market, but chicken feathers for arts and crafts are a close second. Chickens have an amazing variety of beautiful feathers and there seem to be more breeds every year, giving pheasants a run for most beautiful status.

Short wing feathers are a good place to start when planning feather jewelry. Layering the feathers on top of each other is popular, with the longest and strongest in the back.

Feathers with a wide body and strong color pattern are also a good back piece. These can be long body feathers, short tail fan feathers, or wide crest feathers.

Topping the piece with a smaller, brightly patterned body feather is my favorite part.

I use fluff feathers for texture throughout the piece, or as a backing to set off a single brilliantly colored feather.

The ornamental pheasant: Lady Amherst Pheasant, Silver Pheasant, Golden Pheasant, and Reeves Pheasant are a good place to start for feathers that make a centerpiece to the work.

Guinea Fowl have polka dot feathers, Chukar Partridge have black and tan barred feathers. Chicken roosters are the source of most hair feathers, and Buff Polish Chickens have feathers that suit every kind of jewelry project.

Turkey feathers and goose feathers are an excellent source of background or long feathers, and are the main source of feathers for feather fans.

Most of the feather jewelry for sale in stores and at craft fairs have these kinds of arts and crafts feathers in their construction.

For a mix of all the feathers mentioned in this article, check out the Feather Jewelry Sampler at I put together these samplers out of my best feathers, reserved for my own jewelry making. But then I looked around at the, literally, thousands of feathers I’d put aside for myself and realized that not even an entire army of crafters could use them in a lifetime. I created the sampler kits and listed them as a group. Pictures of the feathers that are included in the sampler can be found throughout the site with the individual feathers – like the links in this post.

Even a single feather with a single bead can be breathtakingly beautiful. That’s the nature of feather jewelry. It’s already a natural jewel. We just put it where it can be admired.