How to Make Feather Visors – Craft TutorialOctober 26, 2011 • By Noc Bay
Feather visors for Traditional Men dancers are worn under the front part of the Porky Hair Roach and extend out like a cap visor, but in a bird tail shape. They are made in various designs using tail feathers of various birds and, if you are lucky, from the same bird. The method shown here can be used when you are able to match up tail feathers as four left side and four right side and one center feather, but not from the same bird, and the lengths are different. These feathers are from a turkey.
Match up the feathers as if they were in a fanned out tail. (Photo A) The feathers with the shortest distance from the quill to outside are the outside feathers. The short side faces to the outside of the tail. The center feather should be about even on both sides of the quill. Match up the feather’s tips.
Mark a straight trimming line across the base of the quills so the lengths match. (Photo B) In this visor, the outside feathers were 12 inches and the center feather ended up being 13 inches long. Cut all of the feathers at your marks. (Photo C)
Now you need to make a pattern for a visor base (Figure 1). Use a piece of paper and set your porky roach base on it. Trace a dashed line around the front of the outside edge. (See the dashed line in Figure 1.) Also mark the spot where the roach base hole is as a dashed line as well. Removing the roach for the paper, draw an outline of the visor base in the pattern as shown. We suggest being about 1/2 inch outside the edge of the dashed markings until you are even with the hole then narrow the outline to a point. Use this pattern to cut your base out of a piece of strap leather that is thick like a belt. You will also need to cut a matching piece of soft buckskin for the top piece of the base. Using a leather punch, or a drill, cut two holes in the visor base on each side of where your roach base hole is. (Photo D) These holes are for lacing the thong that ties under your chin, holding the roach spreader, roach, and visor, to the top of your head.
With the feathers laid out in fanned order, coat the rough side of the visor base with glue.(Photo E) For glue, use either contact cement or non-toxic leather glue, as these glues stay flexible when dry. The contact cement dries more quickly but you must follow the safety directions on the bottle.
Coat the underside of the feathers (Photo F), then lay them on the base, glued underside down. Notice that the quills are all in a line that is to the front of the two holes you punched in the base. Start with the outside ones, then add the second to the outside, and so on. Place the center one last. This lays them as if in the turkey’s tail. When in position, adjust them to the desired spacing and let dry. When dried, coat the tops of the feather quills with glue inside the edge of the base (Photo G), and then coat the rest of the base.
Coat glue on one side of the buckskin top piece and while wet, position over the base and press in tightly. (Photo H). Let dry. When dry, use a gloves leather needle and a fine strand of simulated sinew, or any other heavy thread, and tack the strap leather base to the top buckskin (Photo I) by sewing through and tying a knot. Do this at the front as shown, and at both sides of the base next to the last quill.
Also sew a safety pin into the pointed tail position as shown in Photo J. Fastening this pin into the underside of the yarn roach base will help keep the visor in line with the roach while dancing. Finish by punching the two holes in the top leather of the base to match the bottom piece so you can lace your roach spreader thong though them to attach the visor to the roach.
Copyright: 2005 by Loren Woerpel, Noc Bay Publishing, Inc.