- Odd News
By Jimmy Mccloskey
PUBLISHED: 07:12 EST, 7 December 2012 | UPDATED: 08:48 EST, 7 December 2012
They have been used to stuff pillows, decorate clothing and write letters.
And now an American artist has used feathers to created stunning images of birds.
Chris Maynard uses eye surgery tools, miniscule scissors, forceps and sharp scalpels to slice intricate patterns into the shape of birds.
Chris uses complex surgical tools to cut intricate bird-shapes from a variety of feathers
The American artist started his feather work in 2011 after the death of his artist mother
A piece of art can take several days to complete, with some feathers measuring just 1mm
He begins by choosing a perfect feather and sketching out a draft version of his designs, before gluing it to a board and cutting it out.
He uses feathers from private aviaries and zoos that range in size from just 1mm to 4ft long, and has worked with feathers from birds including parrots, pigeons and turkeys.
The talented artist has create more than 80 pieces which can take up to several days at a time, before mounting them onto frames known as shadowboxes.
The stunning works sell for prices between £500 and £1,240.
Chris, 58, from Olympia in Washington, USA, said: 'My art in the shadowbox form began two years ago in 2011.
'I think it had to do with the death of my mother, a professional artist. It got me thinking that life is short and to get on with pursuing what inspires me most.
Chris mounts the work on special shadow boxes that show off their three-dimensional nature
He said: 'Choosing the right feathers takes a lot of time, they have to be perfect.'
Feathers from the art come from birds including crows, turkeys, pigeons and pheasants
'To start, I either first think of a particular bird, get to know it and its qualities or I think of a concept I want to express and think of the right bird or feather.
'Choosing the right feathers takes a lot of time, they have to be perfect in shape, pattern, form, and colour.
'Feathers have shafts, then barbs, then barbules which have little hooks on them which act as Velcro, keeping the feathers barbs together.
'They can be cut and worked with without falling apart, but they do tend to curl so the feathers are usually backed before I cut them.
'I use eye surgery tools, tiny scissors and forceps and small sharp scalpels to cut.
'The feathers come from private aviaries and zoos, I use tiny feathers as small as a pencil point to the biggest in my work.
'Other than feathers from pigeons, crows, and turkeys, I mostly use pheasant and parrot feathers.'
Chris chooses the feather which he feels will best represent the bird he wants to portray
The professional artist has completed 80 feather pieces which sell for up to £1,200
The breathtaking designs are cleverly composed to remind the viewer of the feather's origins