have a problem "eyeing" and plucking
the right feather size. When first tying a particular
pattern this is no big deal because I typically want a range
of sizes.... I just pluck a feather, measure it with a guage,
and select the appropriately sized hook.
Thatís fine when you're building
an inventory of sizes. But as time goes on, replacements are often
needed in one particular size. This is when it becomes
difficult. Ask me to pluck a size 12 and I might get a 14 or
A Charlie Collins barred dun saddle before plucking
My solution for finding feathers
fast when I need them is pre-sorting.
Pull a few square post-it notes off the
pad, and turn them sticky-side up on your work surface. With a
marking pen, label them 6, 8, 10, 12, 14,
Remove a bunch of hackles from a neck or
saddle, measure each one with a hackle guage (I have a Griffin guage
which slides onto the shaft of my vise), and place the measured
hackles so they lay on the sticky side of the appropriately labeled
post-it. This will keep them from blowing off the table. Youíll find
that feathers taken from the same location on the cape or saddle
will often be the same size, and this can speed the sorting
a few dun hackles off a Whiting 1/4-saddle
Buy two sizes of Ziploc bags. I use
pint and quart bags. I like the freezer variety (rather than the
storage variety) because there is an area on the bag for labeling
the contents. Use the label area to identify your feathers using a
marker. One warning: be sure to use a permanent marker so that the
label wonít smear.
Use a quart bag for each size and feather
type. For example, "12 Saddle" identifies the bag that holds all of
my size 12 saddle hackles. Inside each quart bag, place a pint bag
containing each feather color. For example, my size 12 Saddle quart
bag contains one pint bag for each of seven colors plus one bag
for feathers I have died.
number of pint bags will nicely fit sideways in the quart
Finally, use a large black clip to hold all the quart bags
together. For my saddle hackles this means eight quart bags
(one each for sizes 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20). All of these
eight bags are held together with one black
Because the "zip" part of the bag
is inside the clip, the bags will not slip out. Use the clip levers
as handles if you like to wall-hang your materials on dowels or
hooks. Or, as I do, store them in a large Rubbermaid storage box
with your other feathers.
I have one clip
holding saddle feathers and a second clip holding cape feathers.