How to Paint a Feather by Ruby

I am so excited to introduce to you the first of many guests posts by Ruby, my thirteen year old daughter!  She has so many amazing talents, writing and crafting are just a couple.  She has her own Etsy Shop, "Ruby by the Sea", and her own blog (which is private until her mama thinks she old enough to go public).  Today, she teaches us how to paint a feather...

how to paint a feather

For the Annual Los Osos Craft Fair this year, I'm going to sell painted feathers.  Today I'm sharing the how-to for the those of you who can't make it to the Kid's Craft Fair!

painted feathers craft

Gather Your Supplies:

First, collect your feathers.  I simply picked up a few in the backyard from the chickens, but you could go to the beach, a lake, really anywhere with birds, or a craft store.  

Simply soak in warm soapy water to get them clean. Once they dry, you can preen your feathers to get the individual feather barbs in order, just like a bird would, except use your fingers instead of your beaks.

Decide on paint (I used acrylic), and grab a paint brush (I found that smallest brushes work best).

painting a feather

Start Painting!

With one hand, flatten out the feather onto a piece of scratch paper, and with the other hand, pick up a paint brush and start to paint!  I leaned towards stripes and dots when I was deciding on designs.  Be gentle with your brush though, it can easily separate the feather barbs if you press too hard.

painted feathers kid craft diy.jpg

A few things I learned along the way:

  • "Zip" your feather strands together before you start painting! That way your feather is smooth on both sides, and it won't look ragged and stringy once painted.
  • Paint with the grain of your feather.  Go from the feather quill, and along the barbs.
  • Put plenty of paint on your brush.  Otherwise the paint is hardly visible, and there is none left by the time you get to the tips of the feather.
painting feathers nature craft how to

I hope you decide to paint a few feathers today!


To better understand this post, you may want to check out the anatomy of a feather.