This is going to be the first in a series of craft "How-To's" covering a broad range in items that will be useful to dancers and people who attend pow wows. For our first month, the topic will be wing fans--what they are, how to make them, and how to decorate them. In the future, if you have any ideas to share with us on the construction of an article, or ideas for how-tos that you'd like to see, just tell us! If you specialize in something, let us know and share your knowledge with everyone else! We are going to *try* to produce a new craft item every month, so keep us bookmarked!
As any person who has attended a pow wow will note, fans of some sort are almost essential. To the dancer, they are indispensible because they are a useful hand article, and to the spectator they are an excellant way to cool down under the hot sun. Fans can be made in many ways--flat, wing and loose-- but this article will be concentrated on the wing fan, which is a type of fan that is made from the portion of a bird's wing beyond the joint. They are very beatuiful, easy to make, and the most effective type at cooling you down. They can be carried by all dance styles, but are most associated with Traditional dancers. They can be made of any large bird's wing--eagle, hawk, buzzard, crane, goose, or turkey.
|Wing||1 small Bondo body filler|
|1 wooden spoon||small nail or hot glue gun|
|1 small saw||leather for handle and fringe|
|disposable mixing surface for Bondo||Something to mix Bondo with|
Wings (non-protected, ie, not hawk or eagle) can be obtained from local hunters or processing plants. Usually the wings are just thrown away, so you can get them at no cost or at very little cost. You can simply put them in a freezer for storage- there is no need to 'salt' them.
When making your first fan, use the least valuble wing you have. Why? Because it takes up room in the fridge and it probably won't be your finest showcase item. Just use what you have.
1. The first step is to prepare the wing. If it is frozen, let it thaw first so that it is pliable. After it is thawed, you must separate the wing at the joint. This is done by extending the wing fully and then cutting around the joint with a sharp knife. Be sure to cut the tendons as well. A little bit of twisting could be done to help break it apart.
2. Clean the bottom of the wing off about two or three inches from the the joint. Pull all of the small feathers so that juat the raw bones and tendons are exposed. At this time, you should also stretch out the wing and see if there are any feathers you wish to remove to get it to look the way you want it to--some may want all of the feathers on to have a very full fan, and others may want a thinner fan and remove a few from the outside. This is at your descretion, and is just a matter of asthetics.
3. This is the rather unique step in this method. The shape of the handle is obtained by using an old wooden cooking spoon (that's right, the kind Mom use it use). Find a wooden spoon that complements the size of the wing that you are working with, a large spoon with a gentle slope for a large wing , and a smaller spoon with a more drastic slope for the smaller fans. After you have found it, cut the tip of the spoon off about 1/2 inch from the tip.
4. Temporarily attach the bare exposed part of the wing you scraped off in step 2 to the inside "scoop" of the spoon, using a small nail or hot glue. It really doesn't matter how it looks because it will be covered up eventually. It is important, though, in what direction you attach the handle to the wing. This depends on how you want the fan to look- It can come straight down, as in the accompanying photo, or it can follow the natural bend of the wing like the picture of the crane wing in the beginning of this lesson.
5. The overall shape of the fan handle is obtained using a body filler, like the popular brand, Bondo. The Bondo, once mixed, is quickly applied to the fan handle in globs using a spreader, a stick, or your fingers. It doesn't have to be pretty, just thick. Try to avoid any air pockets as well. Get it good--picture the final shape of the handle plus give or take about a 1/4 inch extra everywhere. Spread the Bondo down the length of the shaft until about you're 1/2 an inch from where you want the fan handle to end. (This will be where the fringe is put). Do this quickly, because Bondo tends to start to set in about three minutes, and it is sometimes necessary to to apply it in two applications, waiting for each coat to dry before applying the next.
6. It is now time to sand the now gruesome handle into a work of art. Using a file or a bench grinder, remove all of the excess Bondo around the handle to form a nice, smooth and consistant surface. Next, using sandpaper, sand the handle exactly as you would like it, and make sure that there are no bumps, lumps, or other imperfections in the surface of the handle. This is especially important if you decide to later bead your fan. because even the smallest bump will cause strange things to happen to your beadwork design. A this point, you can go ahead and cut off the part of the wooden spoon handle off, but make sure to leave a 1/2 inch beyond the Bondo for the fringe.
7. Cut the fringe out that you would like to use on your fan (either twist or flat fringe) and wrap it around the bare wood sticking out from the end of the fan handle, so that the outside surface of the fringe is now even with the Bondo. Secure it using a leather glue.
8. Wrap the fan handle with leather, leaving the suede side out. (Don't forget to cover the base of the fringe.) On the back side of the fan, pinch a line running vertically from the middle of the top of the Bondo, covering it, to the center of the bottom. Make sure to pull the leather around very tight, so that it later won't stretch. With this pinched off, cut away the excess, leaving about 1/4 inch extra at the pinch. Take the leather off, and cover the Bondo surface of the handle in leather glue. Re-wrap the handle with the leather, and again pull it tight. Hold the seam tightly with your hand for about five minutes, or until the glue sets.
9. Cut off the excess leather at the seam with a razor blade once it has dried. With this, you may call your fan finished or begin to bead it and decorate it. Popular decorations include quillwork medicine wheels, quilled strips that run along the primary quill (as in the second picture on the bottom), and leather "dots" that are glued using a waterbased blue to the tips of feathers (as in the last picture).
Here's a few examples for you!!