A Gift of a Roman Fan

I was so excited for this project. My mentor, Lucretia Marcella, received news that she was being elevated to the position of a Laurel. She has an intense love of peacocks and that inspired me to find how peacock feathers were used in ancient Rome. I found this lovely picture by John William Godward in 1912.

In my research I have not found evidence of use of peacock or ostrich feathers specifically in Rome, however we see many instances of peacocks in mosaics and murals. It can be inferred therefor that the shed feathers would have been used for fans.

A private zoo near me sells shed feathers so I used real peacock and ostrich feathers in the production, however due to cost real gold as would have been used in period and that wasn’t going to be an option. To give the look of real gold I used wood and painted it to appear as gold. I chose this option because it follows with the spirit (using wood which would have been available) of the S.C.A. while being much more cost effective. I used acrylic gold paint and coated it with acrylic sealer for durability. For adhesive I used modern e6000 glue for the large feathers to make sure they were secure and for durability, but for the addition of the small spine feathers for volume I used heated wax to add them in as would have been used in 1st century Rome. I did use a nail to add the dowel to the cornice piece.

Cornice piece purchased at Hobby Lobby

I hollowed the center out to fit the spines of the feathers inside


I removed the small spine feathers from the spines for added volume at the base


I glued in the large feathers and glued the 2 cornices together to create the main wood piece.

I then put wax on the ends of the small spine feathers and inserted them into the spaces in the cornice.

After this I attached the wooden dowel handle and painted it gold. Once that was dried I coated it with polyurethane to add durability.

Here is the finished product!