Feathers are extremely trendy right now, and so are tassels. These earrings combine both trends using peacock herl to make tassels topped with peyote stitched beadwork.
Peacock herl is a wonderful dark metallic green color and usually temporarily strung. It comes off the strings easily and a small package will be enough to make a lot of earrings. The easiest place to find it is any place that has supplies for fly tying and fishing.
This wire wrapping technique will work with feathers as well, and actually it's easier with feathers. The herl can be challenging to work with because it doesn't have a quill or hard center, it's very soft and flexible.
These earrings are made by wrapping the herl with wire, then covering the wrapped area with a peyote stitched cylinder, then beads are put on the end of the wire and a loop made to hang it from a finding.
You will need:
10 inches of 24 gauge wire- I used sterling for these earrings, but I recommend practicing with something less expensive first!
Seed beads- I used Delicas in gold and green
accent beads- I used 4 mm pearls
round nose pliers
needle nose pliers
sharp small scissors
Cut the wire in half. Measure 1.5 inches from one end, and make a 90 degree bend in the wire, then in long side, make a curve around the tips of your round nose pliers next to the bend so the wire curves and goes the other direction. Repeat with the other wire.
Make 2 bundles of the peacock herl that match fairly well. Because it's a natural material, they won't match exactly, but try to get them about the same length and fullness. How full you want them is up to you. Herl has 2 ends, one is whitish and the other end tapers to the point. Make sure all the herl is oriented the same way. The white ends will be the top of your earrings.
Put the bundle in the hook in your wire with about an inch of the bare wire extending past the top of the feathers.
Now use your needle nose pliers to cinch the loop down around the herl, and grip it tightly and start wrapping the wire around the feathers and wire going up. It's tricky, but it will work. Wrap tightly and try to keep your wraps fairly uniform. They don't have to be exact though because it will be covered with the beadwork.
Close up photo:
Trim excess herl with sharp scissors.
Now it's time to start the beading. How many beads you start with depends on how big your bundle of herl is. For the pair above, 10 beads around was perfect. This part is worked in even count peyote worked in the round. I did the first couple of rows without any support, then slipped it over the feathers and wire to finish.
When the wire is covered, do one more row of peyote, then go through just those beads twice with your thread pulling up the beads tight to close them over the top of the feathers. The beads I went through are marked on the above graph.
Now slip your accent beads over the wire, I used 2mm round sterling, 4 mm pearl, 2 mm round sterling. Turn the top in a loop. If you can make a tiny wrapped loop, do that, or just make an unwrapped loop. Your choice.
You can also use bead cones instead of peyote to top these earrings. A larger bundle would make a lovely necklace.
There is an article for how to dye feathers using food coloring on my website here