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What big fluffy balls you have!
Photo by Eric Hendrix
PROJECT: Illuminated Feather Globe
You have a new dorm room or empty office space that looks more like the sterilized padded room of an asylum than a space you want to spend the majority of your waking hours in, so here’s a clever project straight from my coveted notebooks of designs and schematics that won’t cost you much money or time. You can add a subtle sense of life and lightness with a pleasant ambient glow, as well as giving you a great topic of conversation.
Feather globes can be hung from ceilings, mounted on walls as sconces, or seated in vases, Whether illuminated or not, feather globes make a great addition to any space in dire need of some personality, light, and low-cost fluff.
STEP 1: SCOPE YOUR PACKAGE
Next, choose whether you want an illuminated globe or just a plain globe: this will change not only your steps, but your choice of cord and color of feathers. When choosing a string of lights, you MUST pick lights with a low heat output. Feathers are fairly heat proof but will insulate your Styrofoam to the point of melting, poisonous fuming and potential fire if you chose high wattage lights.
To get around this, chose rice lights or more recently available strings of LED lights. LED’s have low power consumption and superior brightness but will cost you a little more. I used a string of rice lights with programmable DC adapter to give my feather ball a personality, plus the alternating flashing keeps the bulbs cool.
When selecting feathers for your feather globe be sure to chose a plumage with a sturdy enough shaft to be pushed through the surface of your Styrofoam ball without bending or breaking. I used turkey plumes for their sturdiness, economic pricing, and decent size. Do not chose pressed feathers or straight shafts as your main filler or else the Styrofoam and lights will remain visible. Maribou feathers are an excellent alternative to turkey feathers and will not have the jagged edges of the turkey plumes. For a three inch ball, I required one ounce of feathers. This will vary.
Finally, your two optional materials: if choosing colored feathers, select a matching acrylic paint to cover your Styrofoam ball. Spray paint and other solvent based paints will dissolve your ball, so choose wisely. Also, you may couple your string of lights with a beaded chain or cord to cover the wire, or else opt to forego the lights and use only a chain. No special requirements here.
STEP 2: HANDLE YOUR BALLS (this analogy is far too amusing)
If using lights, identify a point on your ball to use as a pole and slice shallow cuts into the ball laterally with the pole and opposite point as your trajectories. They will appear as longitudinal lines all converging on your poles: these will guide the lighted string, stop slippage, and ensure even distribution.
Next, secure the end of your lighted string to the ball using a simple paperclip at one of your poles. Skip this step and just secure your cord for hanging if you chose a non-illuminated globe. Slide the string or wire through the open end of the paperclip and push in vertically without bending the clip. This should support the full weight of your globe.
Wrap the string of lights around your ball moving parallel to your axis. Move to each consecutive cut guideline pushing the string lightly into the folds. Once you have wrapped the whole ball, leave some length for hanging. Secure the end at the pole and any other loose wires with more paperclips.
STEP 3: FLUFF FOR CLIMAX
Carefully hold your ball with your fingertips and begin with the pole. Press the feathers into the ball holding the stiff tips of the shafts. Insert feathers perpendicularly to the surface of the ball for a full and spherical appearance. Work your way around the ball with one quick covering using first even length long feathers, alternating the lateral angles of the feathers for a fuller effect. Start with the longest feathers, moving towards smaller fathers as you progress to second and third coats. Occasionally shift your holding position on the ball to check for bald spots.
STEP 4: MOUNT FOR PLEASURE
As a final check, leave the globe illuminated for a while, supervised, and check for heat accumulation. If not, use without restraint or remorse.
What big fluffy balls you have now! And beautiful too.