Two Fans - April Maybee

Item One: A Feather Fan

It took considerable shopping but I was able to purchase a piece of turned wood of a suitable size and shape for a fan handle. (A yarn winder!) To make the base for the feathers I used a coping saw to saw a narrow channel down through the center of one end of the wooden yarn winder. I inserted a purchased craft wood oval into the channel, glued it into place with Elmer's Glue, clamped it in place and left it to dry overnight.

I then moved on to preparing the decorative quills of duck, chicken and...some spotted bird,,,grouse? feathers. I selected feathers which looked well together and attached them by splitting the tip of the duck quill on the back side all the way up to where the barbs started, I then scooped out any material inside the quill, filled the cavity with Elmer's glue and inserted associated feathers for each set.These quills were also allowed to dry overnight.

The next day I removed the clamps and arranged the prepared quills attractively with their tips on the oval fan base. I then marked and drilled holes in the fan base which allowed me to sew as well as glue feathers in position on the fan base. (Note: the drill was the only power tool I used in the assembly of the fan. I don't currently have a manual drill so I had to make do.)

To prepare the Ostrich feathers I used a dull knife and thumb pressure to curl feathers, especially at the tips and a sharp knife to flatten the other tip so they would lay flatter on the fan base and the glue would adhere better. I arranged one layer of Ostrich feathers on the front of the fan base, sewed, glued and clamped them into place and let them dry then turned the base over and added another layer to the back of the fan. I then added the decorative quills I had prepared to the front of the fan by the same method. Finally I glued on two purchased decorative feather pads to cover the fan base area on the front and back of the fan.

My construction of this fan follows period tradition in that it uses a variety of feather types, patterns and colors, decoratively arranged in layers in a generally paddle shape and affixed to a decorative handle. I have no evidence to assert that my assembly method follows was what was done in period but certainly similar materials and tools were readily available in period and could easily have been used to create a similar fan.

Item Two: A Flag Fan

I've been interested in learning to make lace for some time and while I found no evidence of a period fashion for lace flag fans I felt that such a fan would be quite lovely, and the perfect size for a beginner piece. I learned to net and to make two kinds of lace while working on this fan.

I started by working the net ground for the lacis but since I was unable to locate the proper tools I made do with what I had and used a simple needle (with a LOT of thread) instead of a netting needle and a larding needle (for cooking) for my gauge. It took me several tries but I actually learned to net! When I had achieved a piece of the appropriate size (just shy of 4"x7" in this case) I stretched it in a frame I had made from some bent wire and stitched the lacis pattern. I had considered and charted an interlace pattern but felt that a simple floral was more suitable for my first piece. When the lace was finished I attached it to the outer 3/4's of the wire frame I had created to give structure to the flag part of my fan.

To make the frame I bent some wire into a rectangle of about 4"x7" and covered it with two layers buttonhole stitching, worked on the inner and outer edges of the frame. I used a simple faggoting stitch to attach the lacis to 3/4's of the inner edge of the buttonhole stitching then bent the extra wire I had left around the flag stick I had carved from a 29 1/2 inch section of 3/8" hardwood dowel and back into place to form the 4th side of the frame. I then covered the remaining part of the frame with buttonhole stitch, attached the lacis panel, and edged the outside of the frame with needle lace. The looped frame wire runs in carved grooves to hold the fan in position while allowing it to spin freely.

Aside from my purchase of the undoubtedly machine made raw materials, all the work on this fan was done by hand, by period techniques and with the simplest of hand tools. What fun!



2001 - 2011 Anabella Wake (Known in the SCA as Bella Lucia da Verona) I hold copyright on all information on these pages, and on all images of clothing/costume that I have made. You are allowed to make one facsimile copy for your own use provided that this notice is included on each page. Please ask permission to copy, disseminate and/or distribute my work - I would like to know when and how you are finding this information of use.