“Many people imagine that we draw the feathers of birds,” Cécile Couédou, feather worker

Saint-Jean-le-Vieux, Ain, Cécile Couédou fell in love with featherwork. A craft that uses bird feathers to make objects or ornaments. This meticulous and magnificent craftsmanship has become rare. Between strict rules and passion, the feather worker lifted the veil of his profession for the VOST team.

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This chinquis spur, the bright Lophophore, the blue Hokki… Cécile Couédou is unbeatable in pheasants. But make no mistake! He is not an ornithologist. Based in Saint-Jean-le-Vieux, he is a poultry worker by profession. A dying craft. It still exists in the haute couture and cabaret professions.

He could also turn to creativity for cabaret shows. One of the last performances of this craft. Paradoxically, the feathered constructions used on stage sometimes weigh up to twenty kilos. But Cécile Couédou chose lightness and the production of clothing, fashion accessories and decoration. “Today there are only fifteen freelancers in all of France who work with the pen in all its forms,” he explains. Cécile Couédou is a rare bird indeed.

After professional retraining, he followed a training course led by master feather artist Nelly Saunier. “In my family, they said that there are no openings in the Fine Arts. But I always thought about working with my hands. I was not necessarily attracted to high-level professions. – Sewing, but I’ve always been like that. It was very manual.”, he summarizes. Then he realized he could use feathers to create ghost objects. This was work “A proof”.

A late revelation. It all started with a passion for birds. During her many travels, Cécile taking Many bird pictures. “I could be an ornithologist. It was a passion to observe them in their natural environment.” Cécile is interesting and aesthetic. His a small workshop set up at home perfectly sums up his penchant for beautiful things. The workshop is like a cabinet of curiosities with its butterflies and animals under the earth. But the real rarity of the place are these bags of colorful feathers hiding in boxes and drawers. These feathers mainly come from their own birds. One of his favorite birds is not missing at all. This is a brilliant lophophore. The feathers of this crested bird, the emblem of Nepal, are decorated with green and blue metallic reflections.

Many people imagine that we pluck feathers from birds. I hear this regularly, it’s discouraging. It is not necessary to torture these animals, the hair falls naturally every year.

Cecile Couedou

Plumassier

This plumeria has a feature, it also has several dozen birds of different species, mainly pheasants and parakeets. Birds that take a lot of care in rainbow birdhouses. The feathers he uses in his activity come from their molting in May-October. Cécile collects them every day during this time. The collection can be spread over several years “to have the maximum possible sweets”.

These hairs also need to be cleaned. “You can take from one bath to 6 baths antibacterial so that the hairs are completely clean. Difficult but inevitable. Sorting not included: “I sort feathers by species and feather type. For some species, like parakeets, I also sort by color.” These tasks account for about half of the activity, with the other half devoted to the creation and production of products.

Because the birds are used to being outdoors, the feathers are not fragile. They are subject to weather conditions.

Cecile Couedou

Plumassier

Are they easy to work with? “You should know that no two birds have the same feathers” he explains. This is what makes crafting an item so complicated, according to the feather worker. Feather textures are not necessarily the same depending on the species. Harder ones are harder to work with. “The uses vary depending on the species. For example, I love working with Lophophore feathers on fabrics and clothing materials.”

If we do not mistreat the birds, it is not the same for the feather. “They can be cut, burned, heated, dyed, sewn and twisted.” plumassier lists. Techniques are also very diverse to achieve their goals.

Cécile makes decorative objects, jewelry and also clothes. Alters and decorates shoes. Work offers endless freedom. A feather worker shapes the feathers to emphasize their texture and emphasize their color. It redirects them to create a visual illusion. “Everything I create, every object, every garment is always a unique piece.”

“Making a feather mosaic is the most amazing thing. It feels like a different material than a feather,” plumassier provides.

Can a feather craftsman use all types of feathers? “We don’t do anything with any pen, there is legislation. You can’t use feathers from wild birds like owls or birds of prey.” Cécile Couédou explains. The protected species legislation known as the Washington Convention or CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is final. And when you find a feather in nature? “I will take them as soon as I find them, but I will keep them as a collection. Above all, I will not use them to exploit and sell them.” Cécile Couédou intends to respect the regulations to the letter… or rather the pen.

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