Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Feathers are for the Birds!

Some of my best friends are birds.  Every morning after I make myself a cup of coffee and feed the kitties I put walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts and sliced almonds out in the big tree by the kitchen window.   When the crows see me they let everyone in the neighborhood know it's time for breakfast...and within minutes a menagerie of birds...and squirrels...are feasting in the tree and on the lawn.  It's a morning ritual for me and the kitties...we sit at the window and watch...and for the birds too...they gather and wait for me to appear.  It's a nice friendship.

As a hatmaker I think quite seriously about the materials I use...where they come from, how they were produced or obtained, and the effects they have on the environment or the quality of life...so using feathers on my hats has been a rather big issue for me.  I certainly understand why they are so fashionable and why other designers use them in their creations...feathers are very beautiful...but it's impossible for me to set aside where they come from just so that I can make a hat.  I love hats...and I love making hats...but feathers belong on birds. 

Not to get too preachy but...at the Turn of the Century when the millinery and plume industries were at their heyday entire species of birds were wiped out...gone forever!  The devastation was so bad that strict laws had to be put in place and groups like The Audubon Society were formed to prevent anymore damage.  And now in present day...animals are kept on farms so that they can be used for their fur, skins and feathers.  They are raised and killed in ways so horrible that I can't even get myself to write about it...it breaks my heart.

Sometime ago I gave myself the goal to discover as many cruelty-free ways to create a feathery-look for my hats as I could and I was thrilled when I stumbled upon some wild clematis on one of my walks through Portland.  When these flowers turn to seed they become puffs of feather-like flues!  Since then I have been collecting not only feather impersonators but all sorts of organic creatures like seed pods and withered leaves and flowers to use in my designs.  I just finished two hats that include pampas grass as feathers and flowers made from garlic skins for the trim.  Take a peek:

These hats are now available in my etsy shop if you want to see more photos or get more details on specifics of the hats.  In the meantime...
always remember that life is a journey...
it really doesn't matter where you're going
just make sure you're wearing a hat when you get there!