Technical note: Feather ‘fill’ for damaged feathers on a headdress

National News Categories: 
Publish date: 
8 Jun 2017
Author: 
Heather Bleechmore, Australian Museum

Image 1. Before treatment

Image 2. After treatment - painted acrylic used to camouflage damage.


Treating damaged feathered can be tricky due to their structure, colour and shape. Recently I had the opportunity to trial using painted acrylic sheeting as a fill to minimise the appearance of damaged feathers on a Dhari headdress. Sections of clear acrylic sheets were cut to follow the outline of the feathers with the most damage. Each sheet was painted on the reverse side with acrylic paints in fine strokes to mimic the directions of the overlapping barbs. The sections of painted acrylic were adhered to wooden toothpicks with Paraloid B72 which were then inserted into the hollow rachis of the feathers protruding on the back of the headdress. The end result is the feathers appear more solid as a whole, yet still ‘featherlike’.

Image 4. Same section from the front in place with toothpicks inserted into rachis.Image 3. Painted acrylic sheet section held