Whoever may be so fortunate as to have in their possession fine feathers can certainly make fine flowers. Have at hand gum in solution, French paper for winding stems, and wire of different sizes. Draw the under side of the feather gently over the edge of your penknife to bend it in the required direction ; make a lump of bookbinder's thick paste or wax on the end of a wire for a stalk, and begin your flower by sticking the smallest size feathers into it for a center; place other feathers of the same kind, but larger in size, around in order. Choose green feathers for leaves and calyx, and pure white ones for japonicas and white roses. Twist the ends of the same on a wire, and make fast with gum, glue, paste, or other similar adhesive substance. Be careful to select feathers of the same kind for the same flower. Arrange in a vase, and cover to keep free from dust. In this, as in all kinds of fancy work, let taste and neatness govern the process.
It will often be found necessary to color the feathers to give the desired variety of hues; this can easily be done by attending to the following directions; Put the feathers into hot water, then drain them; rinse two or three times in clear cold water; place them on a tray, over which a cloth has been spread, before a good fire; as they dry, draw them gently into shape between the thumb and finger.
To Dye Feathers Blue. Into about three cents' worth of oil of vitriol mix as much of the best indigo in powder; let it stand one or two days. When wanted for use, shake it well, and into a quart of boiling water put one tablespoonful of the liquid. Stir well, put the feathers in, and let them simmer a few minutes.
Yellow. Put a tablespoonful of the best turmeric into a quart of boiling water, when well mixed, put in the feathers. More or less turmeric gives different shades.
For Orange, add a small quantity of soda to the preparation for yellow.
Pink. Three good pink saucers to a quart of boiling water, with a small quantity of cream tartar. If a deep color is required use four saucers. Let the feathers remain in this dye several hours.
Red. Dissolve a teaspoonful of cream tartar in a quart of boiling water; put in one teaspoonful of prepared cochineal, and then a few drops of muriate of tin. This dye is expensive, therefore use the plumage of the bird ibis.
Lilac. About two teaspoonfuls of cudbear in a quart of boiling water, let it simmer a few minutes before you put in the feathers. A small quantity of cream tartar turns the color from lilac to amethyst.
Bunches of orange blossoms can be made with good success of feathers; the buds are to be made of starch and gum mixed; the stamens of ground rice, colored with turmeric, into which the gummed ends of manilla grass have been dipped.
The inhabitants of the Pacific Islands make beautiful feather flowers, rivaling the natural ones in delicacy and beauty. Pinks, orange blossoms, and roses of exquisite workmanship are often brought from these islands. Old ostrich feathers can be made to look us well as new by holding over hot steam, then drawing each vane of the feather separately over a knife to curl it.