If you are building a Maharajah's Palace, there are a few iconic items which are almost inevitable. One of them has to be the tall feather fan.
The following is an excerpt from Chapter 33 of "Accessories Of Dress" by Katherine Morris Lester and Bess Viola Oerke:
The fan, like the sunshade, originated in tropical countries. Here it was in daily service as a protection against the sun, as a means of cooling the air, driving away bothers insects and, when necessary, fanning the fire into a flame. In the Far East the fan was extensively employed in the service of religion, but its use as a costume accessory also dates back to remote antiquity. Some authorities state that the fan was known in China three thousand years ago. The Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Hebrews, Chinese, Japanese, and the people of India used fans as far back as their records of history go.
Among Eastern potentates, the fan was a badge of rank. The dignity of these rulers required that their fans be carried by slaves or attendants. The ancient form of the fan is therefore pictured with a long handle, and resembles a standard. Figure 529 A wall painting at Thebes pictures twenty-three sons of Rameses the Great in a procession, each carrying a ceremonial fan of semicircular shape attached to a long staff. The office of fan bearer to an Egyptian king was one of high honor, one to which only princes and other sons of the highest nobility could aspire. Figure 529. These attendants served standing at the right and left of the monarch as he sat in state; they attended him when he rode forth and during ceremonies in the temple. When not serving in the capacity of the fan bearer, they waited upon the king as members of his staff or in some other service of distinction.
In india, a fan made of swan and peacock feathers is a symbol of status and so I decided I will have to make one too.
I found my swan and peacock feather and some decorative wild grass I picked from the park behind my house.
I used an old chopstick for the handle. First thing I did was to spray paint the wild grass "French Blue". I also added some glitter to the peacock feather which I had removed from a cheap Venetian mask I bought for a costume party.
A little side note: peacock feathers can be bought quite cheaply in Little India, 50-70 cents per stalk. Hunting a peacock for its feathers is illegal in India and the feathers can be sold only if shed from the birds, which they apparently do very regularly. Peacock feathers are considered auspicious and "protective" here.
This project was time consuming because feathers are very difficult to handle with sticky agent since they bunch up and stain very easily.) I used double sided tape, spray adhesive (big mistake!), and little bits of wood glue for the part around the handle.
As you can see from the 3rd picture on the left, it wasn't easy.
Each time I make a mistake with the glue, I just kept adding feathers (my poor feather duster is very bald at one spot). It was a frustrating exercise and often, I would throw it down and go to sleep only to come back to it again.
Just yesterday, I wanted to junk the fan and thought, finally, my 1st piece of work that I will trash. Well, I am obviously still gutless when it comes to "rubbish". So this is what I did with it.
I realise that the fan is not spreading properly because the back is floppy so I added a "fan" of 8 toothpicks (painted) to give the back feathers some support and a frame (see top pic 2). I then cut and shaped the edges to round it so that maybe my fan will look more "regal" . I also changed the decorative head of the handle by using a more suitable earring.
The final result is a 11 1/2" tall feather fan spanning 5 1/2" at its widest. Huge by 1:12 standard but a rather effective flywhisk (for me) and