Monday, April 23, 2012

Good To Know -- Insights for the Creative Life -- Feather Earrings

Jessie Bender of Free Flying Boutique on Etsy

When a bird lover like myself wants to wear on-trend feather jewelry, it is hard to imagine wearing real feathers for decoration. There are many lovely options for feather-inspired products these days, and I love the way Jessie Bender has taken this popular trend and made it so much more compassionate. Her lovely (and petite) feather earrings are kind to birds! She makes extremely realistic paper feathers for her handmade and beaded jewelry, and each pair is a work of art.

You can see Jessie's work at her fun Free Flying Boutique and I was lucky enough to ask her a few questions about her love of birds. Join me for my visit with Jessie...

Feathers and earring findings on Jessie's work table at Free Flying Boutique

Georgianne Holland: How are your feather earrings kinder to birds?
Jessie Bender:  What I love about this type of feather is that it has all the beauty and detail of the real thing, but it didn't require any disturbance to get it. To get such beautiful feathers, a person would have to either capture the bird, kill it, or follow it around for months, waiting for the feathers to fall. Since those three things are not an option, I wanted to find a way to get the feather without endangering wildlife.

GH: What is your background with birds and why are they a focus in your fine crafting?
JB:  As a huge animal lover, I was able to work for several years at a zoo, in the Bird Department. Although, I always loved birds, it was then that they really became a passion. I love so many of their features: their amazing sounds, their stunning colors, their fun personalities and character, their keen intelligence and most of all, their ability to fly. It was not hard to include these eye-catching creatures in my crafting. They are so inspiring.

GH: Have you worked with real bird's feathers in the past?
JB:  At the zoo, I would spend my days cleaning cages, feeding and caring for the inhabitants. As I did these things, I found countless bird feathers, of all shapes and colors. Due to strict rules, such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it is illegal to collect or keep feathers, especially from certain species. Knowing what gorgeous feathers were out there, I wanted to capture their gorgeous detail in my art. I worked with the limited amount of feathers that could be used legally, such as feathers one can buy for crafts and fly-tying, to create items like hair feathers and earrings. I tried really hard to recreate the plumage I had seen so many times on the actual birds, but the turkey feathers from the craft store weren't cutting it!

The bright citrus colors of these paper earrings are luscious and refreshing!

GH: Are the beads you use to make your charming earrings precious stones?
JB:  The stones I use for my jewelry are very carefully chosen to bring out the best qualities of the feather. I use a wide range of beads, from lovely precious stones, to shiny metal beads, to colorful glass beads. I have a huge collection of beads and stones that I have collected for over a decade. It takes a long time to choose just the right bead.

GH: How many types of bird feathers do you use in your work and which is your favorite?
JB:  I have the feather images of over 150 different types of bird species. The number is always growing as I continue searching for more images. It would be hard to narrow down a favorite type of feather. I really love the brilliant colors of the parrots. I love the charm of the birds of prey. I really like the patterns in the feathers of the pheasants and game birds. The woodpeckers and flickers have some really cool designs, too. My favorites are usually a combination of all those features. So probably the Blue Jay would be my favorite, since it has color and patterns.

GH: Do you see other animal-friendly ways to make nature-inspired jewelry?
JB:  I think the digital age has really made it easy to enjoy wildlife without harming it. One picture can be used again and again, without the need to find more feathers. I have started looking at other things besides feathers, such as butterflies and flowers. The methods I use to make my jewelry can turn just about anything into an exceptional work of art. I try to make sustainable, Eco-conscious choices, such as using recycled paper for my jewelry. Anytime you can find a different avenue to capture the essence of something, it allows the real thing to continue thriving and inspiring us.

Thanks to Jessie for sharing her passion for birds and her insights for the creative life! I invite everyone to look at her jewelery and enjoy Free Flying Boutique on Etsy.

Thank you for stopping by,

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