Ostrich Feathers for Centerpieces in Bulk – EventsWholesale.com
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Available in many vibrant colors, our ostrich plumes are the perfect accent or centerpiece for any event! No matter how you use them, these gorgeous, colorful feathers from Events Wholesale are sure to catch your eye!
Decorating with Ostrich Feathers
Across the ages, ostrich feathers have been worn by the nobility, garnished the helmets of medieval knights, and enhanced the elaborate hairdos and hats of ladies from high society. This tradition in fashion continues today. These remarkably, vibrant plumes are wonderful for decorating at wedding receptions, anniversaries, parties, corporate events, bridal & baby showers, costumes & masks, jewelry, crafting, and simply adding an elegant touch to your home! Feature these fluffy feathers in your event centerpieces, bouquets, other decorations, and much more for a soft, stylish, and stunning look.
History Fun Fact
Did you know that among the treasures that went down with the Titanic was a shipment of forty cases of feathers? In fact, in today’s money, that valuable cargo would have been worth approximately $2.3 million dollars, and only diamonds were more valuable in weight than feathers. What was the reason for so many feathers? The hat craze, of course! Women would even wear whole birds on their heads. Although used much differently today, feathers continue to be quite fashionable and stylish. Keep reading for more details.
Elegant Ostrich Feathers at Discount Prices
Ostrich feathers are a staple in the event and wedding décor world. These elegant accents add exquisite texture and fine detail to any centerpiece. We provide excellent quality plumes that exceed the texture, softness and appearance of competing wholesale sellers. Many customers come back to purchase multiple bulk quantities because of the superior quality and budget-friendly cost we offer on all our feathers. Our vibrant high quality feathers are perfect for creating stunning feather centerpieces!
Impress everyone, from guests to vendors, with captivating centerpieces and displays that match the tone of the event. We carry ostrich drabs and plumes so you have a variety of sizes to choose from. Different lengths are ideal for producing a full looking bouquet or cascading effect over other arrangements.
Our 13-16 inch ostrich drabs are extremely popular. The smaller lengths are ideal for miniature centerpieces or to add fullness to a larger bouquet. The mid-range lengths are often preferred for feather centerpieces while the longer sizes are stunning in our tall glass vases.
When you want some serious length and fullness, you need our gorgeous 18” to 22” ostrich plumes. These feathers are stunning and include bowed tips that hang gracefully when displayed in a tower vase. They also offer excellent width to give your centerpieces that full, luxurious look.
So Many Vibrant Colors
The plumes are preferred by some because they are harvested from the male ostrich’s wing. They measure between 18” and 22” and tend to have a thicker, fuller appearance. The drabs look a little more slender but are just as gorgeous. They also cost less, which is great for customers who are decorating on a tight budget. The average drab measures between 12” and 15”.
We also offer a stunning rainbow of colors to choose from. Our white drabs and plumes are extremely popular because of their versatility. We also stock a generous selection of unique hues, including black, grey, yellow, orange, gold, red, light pink, flamingo, hot pink, magenta, fuchsia, royal, light blue, turquoise, teal, emerald, Kelly green, forest green, purple, lime, lavender, rose, peach, mint, cream, rusty brown, toast and chocolate brown. Our site also lists a handful of fun fluorescent versions that glow under a black light, including green, yellow, hot pink and orange.
Buy in Bulk and Save
If you want to get more feather for your money, buy our plumes and drabs in bulk! We offer low prices on high quality accents so you get the best value every time you order. Our beautiful ostrich feathers are perfect for any kind of event, including bridal showers, wedding receptions, baby showers, anniversary parties, baptisms, Bat Mitzvahs, Bar Mitzvahs, communions, confirmations, corporate events, birthday parties, retirement parties, Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), Sweet Sixteen parties, New Year’s Eve, school reunions, corporate events, family reunions, Miss Quince, Quinceañera, graduation parties, proms and much more!
Browse our ostrich feather category today and find new ways to decorate for every occasion! Don’t forget to explore our kits, which include feathers plus Eiffel Tower vases, bouquet holders, Floralytes and more!
DIY Ostrich Feather Tips & FAQs:
Ostrich Feathers & Plumes – Bulk Wholesale Feathers For Sale
The worldwide popularity of ostrich feathers was responsible for the birth of the “farmed” ostrich. This actually saved the ostrich species, which at one point was near extinction. The domestication of the ostrich ended the unregulated hunting of the bird, primarily for its feathers. This satisfied a large demand. The adoration of the feathers actually dates back thousands of years. Drawings and carvings indicate that the ancient Egyptians and Romans used ostrich feathers for formal dress.
Nationwide Distributor of Ostrich Feathers & Plumes
At M. Schwartz & Gettinger Feather Inc., we have tapped into the popularity of ostrich feathers by providing them to customers across the county at great, low-cost rates. Get wholesale ostrich feathers at a great, low rate and create a fun and unique ostrich feather centerpieces! These feathers are great for a variety of crafts and projects. For more information about our wholesale feathers, please call our office today at 631-234-7722. When you call, we can provide you with a free quote for the feathers you want. We make buying feathers in bulk affordable! So don’t delay and call today!
Great Selection of Ostrich Feathers
Check out our selection below.
|Display Ostrich Feathers (Drabs and Nando)
Drabs – We carry these celebrated, quality wholesale feathers in a variety of colors including white and black. The display feathers are sold by the dozen, in hundred piece lots or by the pound. Available in lengths of
Nando (or Nandu) – The lime green spear-shaped ostrich feather at the bottom of this photo is referred to as a “nando” Ostrich feather. They range from about 20-25″ and can be dyed in any color. Nando feathers are popular costume feathers because they are lightweight and remain firmly upright. They can be trimmed from drabs, spads, or wing plumes.
|Prime Quality Ostrich Feathers – Plumes
|First Quality/Slightly Imperfect Ostrich Plumes – Feathers
These are probably your best buy when it comes to the wholesale ostrich feathers available on our site.
|Ostrich Feathers Fringe
Ostrich Feathers and Plumes For All Occasions
M. Schwartz & Gettinger Feather Inc. is proud to offer a wide assortment of versatile and breathtaking ostrich feathers, ostrich plumes and ostrich feather centerpieces. We supply feathers in small and large quantities for all your special event and costume needs. We can custom dye and feather if you would like a specific color or design. Your wish can be our command!
There is a wide range of uses for ostrich feathers. You can get as creative as you want with our great selection of feathers and plumes. Create a colorful centerpiece for the dining room table. Or perhaps a wonderful mask great for your next costume party. And for those teachers out there, these feathers are a great idea for arts and crafts. They are simple and fun for kids of all ages!
Masquerade and Carnival Masks
The creativity options for masquerade masks with ostrich feathers are endless. Due to consistent popularity over the decades, there are widespread variations. While there are several traditional types, the mask becomes unique when feathers of different colors and sizes are added. Our carnival feathers can liven up any event or party. They are a simple addition, but can make a huge difference to any outfit.
Wholesale Feathers Supplier
M. Schwartz & Gettinger is a trusted supplier of quality wholesale feathers. We ship our products nationwide. If you have any questions about our ostrich feathers, ostrich plumes, ostrich feather centerpieces or any other products, please contact us today. We will gladly answer any questions you may have about our array of ostrich feather products. The number for our office is (631) 234-7722. When you call, we can provide you with a quote for the items you wish to purchase. So do not shy away from going big! Our wholesale prices make purchasing our ostrich feathers in bulk affordable. We look forward to helping you with any issues you may have on the matter.
The Epic Boom and Bust of the Ostrich Feather Market
Kelly Jensen Digital Collections Specialist, California Academy of Sciences, gives one of five Shift Ignite talks earlier this year at the Shift Forum. A fascinating tale of tulip-mania (but with feathers!), this five-minute Ignite talk reminds us all what happens when social behaviors rapidly change.
Kelly Jensen: Hi, I’m Kelly Jensen. I’m a digital archivist and a founding fellow of Odd Salons, a cocktail and lecture series here in San Francisco, and I’m going to tell you a little story about the glory days of state sponsored ostrich theft.
The South Africans knew that if they needed to compete, they needed an edge.
When the Titanic sank in 1912, the most valuable cargo on board was a shipment of feathers that was insured for $2.3 million in today’s money because in 1912 only diamonds were worth more by weight than feathers. And the reason for this was the hat craze. Everyone needed hats with feathers on them, and they needed to be super big and fluffy, and sometimes people would have entire birds on their hats.
The feather trade was extremely profitable, and South Africa was the ostrich farming capital of the world. Feathers were its fourth largest export behind gold and diamonds, and ostrich feathers were the most profitable because they were the most fluffy. The town of Oudtshoorn was the epicenter of this.
A group of Lithuanian Jews who were fleeing Tsarist rule had ended up in this weird town in the middle of the desert and started Ostrich farming very successfully. The town is still full of feather mansions that were built with Ostrich profits.
There was a problem, namely that the Americans had gotten into Ostrich farming as well. The South Africans knew that if they needed to compete, they needed an edge. They thought that that edge would be the legendary Barbary ostrich.
The Fluffiest of Feathers
Barbary ostrich plumes were what they called double floss, which meant that they were twice as fluffy and, therefore, twice as profitable. Some Barbary ostriches had been imported into South Africa decades before, but no one was really sure where they had come from.
They had a hot tip that the birds had come from Nigeria.
The South African government decided to fund an expedition to go and look for the Barbary ostrich and bring them back alive and breed up the stock. Who else did they get to head this expedition but agriculture professors, of course, very natural.
They had a hot tip that the birds had come from Nigeria. They send the expedition off to Nigeria and they hire about a hundred local guys to carry all of their stuff.
They set up next to a major feather trading route. There was a local tradition of plucking the ostriches bald, so that was weird. They set up next to the trading routes and they’re looking for these Barbary ostrich feathers, and they finally find some. They come from over the border in French military territory.
They go to the French and they ask if they can take some ostriches and the French say, “No.” They cable South Africa and they’re like, “Well, what do we do now? Can we liberate some ostriches?”
The thing about South Africa is it’s only been a real country for like a year at this point, and they don’t need trouble with France. They hem and haw for a couple of months and they finally cable back and they’re like, “OK, you can liberate some ostriches, but if you get caught, we never heard of you.”
The thing about the ostriches is that they’re not good sailors.
Now there’s a problem. The delay means that the Americans have found out about this expedition and now they’re following the South Africans, trying to buy the same fancy ostriches. The Americans start buying up “junk” ostrich feathers, trying to trick the Americans into getting the wrong birds.
Now they’re being chased by French officials, American spies and the Tuareg raiders that keep attacking them. They manage to acquire 156 live ostriches. Then they realize that they now have to get these very large, angry birds back across the Sahara Desert.
Ostriches in Distress
They build these pens out of sticks and, basically, frog march these ostriches like 800 miles back to Lagos, so it’s fine. Then they only have to get the birds onto the ship. The thing about the ostriches is that they’re not good sailors.
In rough seas, they can flip upside down in their pens with their legs waving in the air. If they stay like that, they can die. On the way back, everyone’s on 24-hour call, listening for the sound of upside down ostriches in distress.
The moral of the story is don’t underestimate the effect of women on capitalism.
They make it back, and it’s awesome because they did it and they’re going to be feather millionaires. Like a year or two after they get back, the entire feather industry collapses, like completely.
There’s a couple of reasons for this and one of them is the Model-T because you cannot wear this big, silly hat in an open top convertible. It really doesn’t work.
Fashions started to change. Then the second nail in the coffin of the feather industry was World War I. Not only is everyone suddenly in mourning and not inclined to wear silly hats, but women are taking jobs as nurses and ambulance drivers and postal workers, and they need practical, no nonsense clothing that lets them get their jobs done.
The moral of the story is don’t underestimate the effect of women on capitalism. As the feather boom collapsed, all it left behind it was a legacy of ridiculous photos and one very nearly forgotten story. Thank you very much.
Reprinted from NewCo Shift.
Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce
The thirst for exotic ornament among fashionable women in the metropoles of Europe and America prompted a bustling global trade in ostrich feathers that flourished from the 1880s until the First World War. When feathers fell out of fashion with consumers, the result was an economic catastrophe for many, a worldwide feather bust. In this remarkable book, Sarah Stein draws on rich archival materials to bring to light the prominent and varied roles of Jews in the feather trade. She discovers that Jews fostered and nurtured the trade across the global commodity chain and throughout the far-flung territories where ostriches were reared and plucked, and their feathers were sorted, exported, imported, auctioned, wholesaled, and finally manufactured for sale.
From Yiddish-speaking Russian-Lithuanian feather handlers in South Africa to London manufacturers and wholesalers, from rival Sephardic families whose feathers were imported from the Sahara and traded across the Mediterranean, from New York’s Lower East Side to entrepreneurial farms in the American West, Stein explores the details of a remarkably vibrant yet ephemeral culture. This is a singular story of global commerce, colonial economic practices, and the rise and fall of a glamorous luxury item.
By Sarah Abrevaya Stein
In 2004, on a research trip to South Africa, I took leave of the book I was researching, leaving the archives of Cape Town for Oudtshoorn, a small town on the interior of the Western Cape. Oudtshoorn had been the primary supplier to a global ostrich feather industry of the late 19th and early 20th century, and, according to a 1940 Yiddish-language history, Jews had counted prominently among its feather dealers. This unlikely confluence — that an ostrich feather boom existed, that Jews had a role in it, and that its only history should be penned in Yiddish — warranted an archival pilgrimage.
The archives of Oudtshoorn’s C.P. Nel Museum, small and low tech but lovingly maintained, revealed fascinating traces of Jewish history. It did not, however, yield papers of Jewish feather traders — documents that might allow me to reconstruct their history. Sharing my frustration with my informal hosts, third generation Jewish ostrich farmers in their eighties, they gently suggested I was looking in the wrong place: the material I craved, they explained, was not preserved in Oudtshoorn’s archives, but was on display in the associated museum. Jews’ involvement in the global ostrich feather industry, it seems, was viewed less as the stuff of history, more as a cabinet of curiosities.
Returning to the museum, I discovered an “ostrich feather merchant’s office” containing roughly 30 years of the quotidian financial records of Isaac Nurick, a Jewish feather merchant of Russian Lithuanian origin well connected across the global feather world. Blessed with access to this astonishing treasure, I was launched on a historical journey that carried me to three continents, to troves of hitherto neglected archives, to the descendents of feather families in six countries, and to the unexpected story of Jews’ prominence in the ostrich feather boom and bust of the turn of the 20th century, the subject of Plumes.
Due to the overwhelming thirst for plumes as items of adornment by female consumers in the metropolises of Europe and the United States, the value of ostrich feathers per pound almost equaled that of diamonds. For some 40 years, from the 1880’s to roughly World War One, ostrich plumes proved a popular decorative element and ubiquitous feature of trans-Atlantic women’s fashion. Ostrich feathers could be found wherever there were arbiters of style: a consignment of £20,000 worth went down with the Titanic.
Astonishingly, in all hubs of the global feather trade — North and South Africa, Yemen, London, Paris, and New York — Jews were the principal plume middle-men and women. In the Western Cape, over 90% of feather merchants were Yiddish-speaking immigrants from Russian Lithuania. In North Africa, whence the feathers of wild ostriches were shipped, Sephardi Jews dominated feather exports and Judeo-Arab Jews dominated the feather processing industry. In Yemen, Jews oversaw the sale of feathers of Arabian origin at Aden’s bustling port. In London, the ostrich feather trade was considered one of the city’s “chief Jewish monopolies.” In New York, the American center of ostrich feather manufacturing, most feather workshops were owned by Jewish men and staffed by Russian Jewish women. In the American West, Southwest, and South, Jews constituted the financiers and “feather go betweens” for entrepreneurial ostrich farmers.
Plumes explores how Jews nurtured the feather trade across a global commodity chain and throughout the far-flung territories where ostriches were reared and plucked, and how their feathers were sorted, exported, imported, auctioned, wholesaled, and finally manufactured for sale. The book considers how Jewishness was a magnet to the industry for some, for others a tonic that facilitated commercial relationships. How, I ask, did Jews in various echelons of the ostrich feather market benefit from the particular skills, expertise, and contacts they possessed as Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Maghrebi, and Anglophone Jews — and as rich and poor, immigrant and native-born, South African, Mediterranean, British, and American girls, boys, women, and men? Why did Jewishness prove to be the crucial ingredient that knit together this lucrative but ultimately short-lived market?
While the fact of being Jewish helped some in the feather trade, it insulated none when the industry entered a precipitous collapse in 1914 — brought on by shifts in fashion catalyzed by World War I, rampant over-supply, and the success of the international bird preservation movement. The feather crash brought financial disaster across the globe and to all in the business, Jewish and non-Jewish. The most tenacious tried to ride out the bust; many more were left bereft of business, pride, and reputation. Slums in South Africa housed entire communities disenfranchised by the crash, feather merchants committed suicide rather than face their debts, husbands sold their wives’ jewelry to remain solvent.
One does not write a book about Jews and feathers with the expectation that it will prove timely. And yet the contemporary resonance of this story is breathtaking. At the moment Plumes appeared, news of a global financial downturn, of the catastrophic devaluation of goods and industries once viewed as inviolate, and, no less, of Jewish wealth, loss, and economic misbehavior dominated the airwaves. For this, the history of the ostrich feather industry of the last turn-of-the-century offers a poignant historical model. It suggests, first, how fallacious is the assumption that things have an enduring and knowable value: how wrong it is to assume that profits earned in a speculative, volatile, and inflated market are guaranteed, even deserved. Second, it teaches that Jewish histories are found in unexpected places. To fathom Jewish commerce, cultures, and lives in all their multiplicity, we must be prepared to peer beyond the places, leitmotifs, and sources that have been considered central to the Jewish experience heretofore, finding new cabinets of curiosity whose weighty histories are yet to be written.
How To Make Gorgeous DIY Ostrich Feather Centerpieces (+ 7 variations)
DIY feather centerpieces are an easy way to add some glamour and elegance to any wedding, event, party or dinner. Learn how to make your own ostrich feather centerpieces with these simple step by step instructions.
DIY feather centerpieces are an easy way to add some glamour and elegance to any wedding, event, party or dinner. Because they are tall, they are perfect on tables where you want people to be able to see across.
Even better? Centerpieces with feathers can be made in advance (unlike floral arrangements) so you don’t have to be fussing with them at the last moment.
Ostrich feathers are available in pretty much every color, which means they are very easy to match to your decor. And they are available in many different sizes so you can control the size of your centerpiece.
Watch this video to see how to make the feather centerpiece, and then read the rest of the page for more details and centerpiece variations:
What You Need
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These are the basic supplies that you will need to make your DIY feather centerpieces…a tall vase, some ostrich feathers and a bouquet holder.
- 27 – 12 to 14″ ostrich feathers* or 20″ to 24″ ostrich feathers* – I usually use the less expensive shorter feathers, but if you want really luxurious looking vases, the longer feathers are better. If you want to see the difference…when you’re looking at the pictures below, the vases with the white feathers are using longer ones, the vases with the colored feathers are using shorter ones
- 16″ – 24″ tall Eiffel Tower vase* – I usually use a 20″ vase, but you can go a little shorter or a little taller. Generally, you would want to use shorter feathers in the shorter vase and longer feathers in the taller one.
- Bouquet holder*
(Optional) Vase Accessories
To dress up your DIY feather centerpieces, you can add any of the accessories below. I’ll show you how they look when we get to the variations. Use these to come up with your own unique centerpieces.
How To Make Ostrich Feather Centerpieces
White ostrich feather centerpieces
Using feathers that are all one color creates a sophisticated look that is very easy to create.
White feather centerpieces are the most popular color, but of course feel free to choose whatever color matches your event decor!
Put the stem of the bouquet holder in the top of the vase
Insert the end of the bouquet holder* into the top of the vase*.
Bouquet holder row numbers
Start with the bottom row (row one) of the bouquet holder.
First Row Of Feathers
The first row – feathers in every other section
Use one feather in every other section of the bottom row.
On the bottom row, insert feathers in alternating sections
Stick the ends of the feathers into the floral foam in the bouquet holder, with the feathers pointing in a downwards direction
Second Row Of Feathers
Move up to row 2 in the bouquet holder.
For Long Feathers
If you are using feathers that are 20″ or longer, add one feather in every other section, in the alternate holes from where the first row feathers are located.
For Shorter Feathers.
Put feathers in every section for the next two rows
For shorter feathers (less than 20″), add one feather per section.
Put feathers in every section for the next two rows
Point the feathers in a more outwards direction (although they probably still will be on a downwards slant).
Third Row Of Feathers
Put feathers in every section for the third row
Move up to the next row. If your bouquet holder has a really narrow row like mine does, skip it…it isn’t big enough for some of the feather stems to fit in.
Add 1 feather per section (like you did in row 2) but have the feathers pointing on an upward angle.
Try to space the feathers out so that they are not directly over the ones in the last row.
Feather centerpiece after three rows
Don’t worry if it still doesn’t look right…it will all work out when you are finished!
Top Row Of Feathers
Move up to the top row of the bouquet holder.
For longer feathers, add one feather in every section. These feathers should be pointing more upwards and less out than the last row.
Put feathers in every section for the fourth row
For shorter sections, add one feather in every other section like you did on the bottom row. These feathers should be pointing more upwards and less out than the last row.
The Finishing Feathers
Finally, add 3 more feathers to the very top of the bouquet holder pointing up and filling in the gaps from the top row.
Then take a look around your centerpiece to see if there are any gaps. To fill in the spaces, you can either re-position existing feathers, or add a new feather in the gap.
The Finished DIY Feather Centerpiece
The finished feather centerpiece
Take a look at your creation to see if there are any spots that seem a little sparse. Either re-position the feathers you already have to fill in the gaps, or add more feathers in the spaces.
You can re-use the bouquet holders for future feather centerpieces…just remove these feathers and use the same holes for the next event!
If all you want is the standard feather centerpiece, you are done!
But if you want to see some variations on feather colors and vase decor, keep reading to find some ways to dress up your ostrich feather centerpieces.
Variation 1: Light Up The Vase
Black and red feather centerpiece
To get the vases to light up, place them on top of a Mini LED Light Base*.
Using adhesive dots* to stick the light base to the bottom of the vase will make sure the vase doesn’t fall off.
I usually try to add something add the bottom of the vase to hide the light base…feather boas* work really well!
Variation 2: Eiffel Tower Vase Filler
Pink Crystal Vase Filler with Pink Glimmer Lights
You can use different vase fillers to create different effects. In this centerpiece, I put a pink glimmer light string* inside the vase and then filled it with pink acrylic crystals*.
I used pink, but you can get these lights and crystals in pretty much any color you need. Just make sure to leave enough space at the top of the vase for the bouquet holder stem to slide in. You also need to make sure that the crystals are no more than 1/4″ wide. Otherwise, they may get stuck halfway down and they are very hard to get out!
Mardi Gras masquerade centerpiece
Mardi Gras Beads* are a really good vase filler. They are small enough to easily fit in the vase, are very inexpensive, and come in pretty much any color you want.
I used traditional Mardi Gras colors for this one, but you could use whatever color you want.
Variation 3: Add Hanging Crystals Or Beads
Hanging Crystals or Beads From the Feathers adds to the centerpiece decor
I used this variation at my Great Gatsby Party. Hanging strands of “crystals*” or “pearls*” (plastic of course) from the feathers adds some glam to your decor. (Everyone who knows me, knows I love some glam!!)
Get the step-by-step tutorial for this DIY Gatsby feather centerpiece HERE.
I did something similar with this feather centerpiece for my Mardi Gras party, except I hung Mardi Gras beads instead of crystals from the feathers.
Variation 4: Light The Feathers
Feather centerpiece with pink glitter lights
Adding some small lights to the feathers is another way to dress up your ostrich feather centerpieces.
In this case, I strung these pink glimmer lights* through the feathers to make them glow. You’ll need lights that don’t weight very much and are battery operated so you don’t have to plug them in.
I also used this base light* which I covered up with these feather boas*.
Variation 5: Two Toned Ostrich Feather Centerpieces
Red and Black Ostrich feather centerpiece
To make a feather centerpiece using an accent color, you will need to choose the main feather color and an accent color.
For my Fallen Angels and Devils party, black ostrich feathers* were the dominant color with accents of red feathers*.
Accent colors in a zig zag pattern
The instructions for putting together the feather centerpiece together are pretty much the same as for a 1-color vase. The only difference is to use an accent color feather in place of the main color feather every once in a while.
I usually use 1 to 2 accent color feathers per row and try to place them in a zig-zag pattern so that they look randomly placed but still balanced.
This works out to about 18 main color feathers and 9 accent color feathers per vase.
Pink and white ostrich feather centerpiece
I also used this feather pattern at our Mad Hatter Tea Party…with pink and white feathers in black Eiffel tower vases.
Variation 6: Layered Ostrich Feather Centerpieces
Pink and white feather centerpiece
Putting the layered feather centerpiece together is very similar to doing one color, except that you switch to the second color for the top two rows of feathers.
I used white ostrich feathers* on the bottom and pink ones* on the top for my friend’s pink 50th birthday party. (Recognize those feathers? They’re the same ones as the Alice in Wonderland party above…I definitely re-use what I have to cut down on the cost when I’m planning parties!)
To put these DIY feather centerpieces together, follow the same instructions as the single color feather vase, using the first color for the bottom two rows of the centerpiece.
For the third row, mix in a couple of the first color feathers with the second color feathers as a transition row.
Then use all of the second color feathers on the top rows.
This means you need about 14 feathers of the bottom color and 13 feathers of the top color.
If you really want to get fancy you can use 3 or 4 colors for a rainbow layered effect, like I did for these Mardi Gras feather centerpieces.
Get the step-by-step instructions for making the Mardi Gras feather centerpieces HERE.
Variation 7: Mix and Match Ostrich Feather Centerpieces
For my peacock-colored centerpiece, the feather colors were royal blue*, turquoise* and green*. I used this as part of the decor for my Mardi Gras masquerade party.
For this centerpiece look, you will need to alternate the feather colors as you insert them into the bouquet holder…so in this case, I used a royal blue feather, then a turquoise feather and then a green feather to get the mottled look.
Other than that, the instructions for putting them into the bouquet holder are the same as for the single color centerpiece.
The peacock at the bottom of the vase is meant to be an event decoration, but it goes pretty well with my centerpiece!
Hopefully, you now know how to make your own spectacular ostrich feather centerpieces and have some inspiration for dressing them up a little.
DIY Feather Centerpieces FAQs
Ostrich Feather Size Comparison
As a recap, here are the answers to the questions I get asked the most about making ostrich feather centerpieces.
What Size of Ostrich Feathers Do I Need?
But if you want to create really luxurious ostrich feather centerpieces, you might want to go for the 20″ – 24″ ostrich feathers*.
You can see the difference in the way they look in the picture above. The vase is the same size in both cases.
How Many Ostrich Feathers Do I Need For A Centerpiece?
Each vase usually needs between 27 and 30 feathers to fill it out.
However, there is a little leeway. If you want it to look fuller, add a few more feathers. If you want to save a little money, take a few out.
Where Can I Buy Ostrich Feathers?
I buy most of my feathers from amazon.com*. The prices are good, they have a wide selection of colors and you can return them easily if you don’t get what you want.
However, if you are buying in bulk and don’t mind waiting, I have also found some good deals on aliexpress.com*. Most of them ship from China so they may take a few weeks to arrive, and you do need to shop around to make sure you are getting a good price.
What Size Of Vase Do I Need?
I use 20″ Eiffel Tower vases for all of my ostrich feather centerpieces.
However, both the shorter 16″ vases and the taller 24″ vases will work. Generally, if you are using a shorter vase, you will want to go with shorter feathers. If you are using a taller vase, the longer ostrich feathers will look best.
How Do The Feathers Stay There?
Bouquet holders* are the easiest way to get the feathers to stay in place. The handle holds the bouquet holder steady in the vase, and the floral foam holds the feathers at the right angles.
I like to use the ones that have plastic dividers over the tops of them. It makes spacing the feathers out evenly much easier.
Other DIY Centerpiece Ideas You Might Like
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Baby Ostrich Feather Plume Trim (ass’t colors)
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90,000 The value and use of ostrich feathers
The African ostrich is abundantly covered with black and white plumage. It is a curly, voluminous cover that protects the bird and regulates heat exchange. The hatched chicks are covered with sharp, needle-shaped yellow-brown feathers, which change to darker and lighter fluffy feathers with age.
The structure and value of feathers
On different parts of the body, ostrich feathers have a different structure. The bird has contour feathers that are located on the tail and wings.The whole body is evenly covered with downy feathers and in some areas – threadlike. An adult bird has an average of about 1 kilogram of feathers on its body, which are valued for their unique properties in various fields of art and production.
To use the pen, it is important to remove it correctly. The plumage is not pulled out of the skin, but carefully cut off at a minimum distance from the skin. The feather of young animals is not widely used – only raw materials from birds that have reached the age of three are used.
The cost of ostrich feathers depends on their characteristics. The length and density, elasticity of the down, shine and silkiness, as well as the symmetry of the form are evaluated. The most expensive are symmetrical feathers about 30 cm wide and 70 cm long. The feathers from the wing in the first row are in special demand, of which 24 central feathers are chosen.
White feathers from the wings and tail of a male ostrich are highly valued in the field of fine arts – they make various compositions, accessories, decorative souvenirs.If you recall the clothes of noble nobles or actresses of past centuries, you will notice that their hats and clothes were often decorated with large beautiful ostrich feathers from the central part of the male’s wing. Also, this raw material is used in industry for delicate cleaning of mechanisms from dust.
Reason for mass extermination of ostriches
In the Middle Ages, for the manufacture of spectacular theatrical clothes and outfits for the nobility, feathers were harvested in large quantities – in whole tons.For this reason, the African ostrich was exterminated en masse. Even if the birds were left alive and only the most valuable large feathers were taken from the wings, many individuals died later because of this. Farming of birds, which became fashionable, helped to prevent the barbaric extermination of the Middle Eastern ostrich, which saved the population from complete extinction.
Today, birds are raised in civilized conditions, which allows the species to safely use all types of feathers to decorate clothing and interior items.
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90,000 Wedding and ostrich feathers: how the Hyundai plant works in Russia
They work here in three shifts at full capacity, and for 10 years nobody was laid off. The plant makes three of the top 6 Russian car bestsellers at once. At the same time, 100% of cars are tested in the quality control zone.
Creation of a car at the Hyundai plant begins not even from scratch, but from a roll. It is in rolls that steel is brought to the enterprise, from which a machine will be made in less than a day.
A 600-ton press makes 50 strokes per minute to turn steel into flat billets of the desired shape. The workpieces are stacked on shelves and closed so that nothing gets onto future bodies. The smallest crumb can cause a defect in the future body if it remains on the steel when the workpiece is in the next presses.
A stack of blanks is placed in the center of this circular machine, and it converts them into future right and left sides and fenders.
Next, the workpieces go to the main stamping line. From above, the grippers with suction cups are taken along the sheet and separated one by one from the stack.
The workshop is noisy, especially because of the four presses in this closed area. The first press – for 2300 tons, a flat billet is fed to it, and it is here that it takes the shape of the future body. The second and third presses – 1000 tons each, cut off excess metal, which are accumulated on the scrub conveyor and transferred for processing. The last press 800 t – the edges of metal parts are bent on it.
Lines with presses – in the video below:
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A total of 70 different parts are stamped on this line. As many as 10 times a day there is a change of stamps. And at the same time you can stamp 4 body panels – this is called quad-stamping
Finished body parts go to the warehouse area, it is right there, in the workshop. The welding shop is located under the same roof. Here, all operations are carried out exclusively by robots – people only control them.
First of all – the body
It is in the welding shop that the conveyor begins to move, which will then produce 45.5 Hyundai and Kia cars every hour. On average, only 79 seconds are allotted for one operation.
Here a second level appears – a system for transporting units of future machines operates on it, they are transported along a kind of factory monorail.
The welding shop has several lines and a total of 186 robots. The left and right sides of the body are welded on two lines.There is also a line for welding the underbody of future cars. Then all the parts are assembled together on the so-called main welding jig.
The main welding jig is in the video below:
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The main welding jig is considered the most important line – the sidewalls come here from above, the bottoms approach from below, and in a matter of seconds the workpieces are connected and acquire the recognizable features of the future car.
All models of the plant are produced here at the same time.The robots know which body is going to the station and where the welding spots need to be placed. Only on the main welding jig 8 robots are involved at once.
After welding the main body parts, the VIN number is put on the future car. Then an automatic photo of the applied number is taken, which is checked by the image recognition system for the absence of defects and compliance with the production plan.
The already numbered body is sent further, acquiring hood and trunk lids, doors, fenders and a roof.When leaving the welding shop, finished bodies are checked not only by robots, but also by people. They hit some machines once an hour with a hammer and chisel to check the quality of the weld spots.
Welded – now paint!
The finished body goes up and goes to the paint shop. This is already a separate building, in which the car will have to spend 8 hours.
From the welding shop to the painting shop, the body travels along an outdoor closed transport corridor. The car will then go to the assembly shop along the same corridor.
Few people have access to the paint shop – the room is kept absolutely clean, visitors and employees must wear special clothes. Before getting to the shop, one has to go through the corridor, where the person is “cleaned” by air jets that knock down the dust.
The future body goes through five stages of processing. First – cleaning and preparation, then – electrocataphoresis for corrosion protection, then – application of primer, colored top coat and varnish. The color of the primer depends on the color of the vehicle.Standard soils are white, black and gray and, for example, gray is also used for cars with a blue body. And for orange cars, they use orange soil specially made by technologists.
The painting process is in the video below:
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The glass of the chamber did not fog up – a special sticky layer was applied to them, collecting all dust particles that would try to settle in the welding shop. The bodies must be kept in a sterile atmosphere.
Ostrich feathers turned out to be the best means for cleaning the body before painting.
The bodies are “swept” before being sent to the spray booth with special brushes made of natural ostrich feathers, which turned out to be ideal from the point of view of static electricity.
Two-color cars (like, for example, Hyundai Creta in special version Bi-2) are made on a separate line at 20 units per day. At the same time, painting cars of different colors in one chamber is not a problem. Sprayers, along with the paint, also deliver a powerful stream of air – not a drop flies either to the side or onto the glass.
Huge air ducts are striking in the paint shop – they are necessary here to maintain a sterile atmosphere. Through them, air is supplied to the workplaces of people – and they breathe there even better than on the aisle. There is a slight smell in the workshop – but it comes from finished bodies, and not from cameras. Nobody breathes paint, air purity is constantly monitored, and work in this workshop is not considered dangerous.
At the same time, painting is the most expensive part of production. This workshop, with its 50 robots, uses more electricity, more gas, and more water than anything else in the plant.
After painting, the machines are sent for inspection – on a separate line, which is already operated by live operators, the quality of the paintwork is assessed. The bodies then go into a 76-piece storage. From here they are taken to the assembly shop in accordance with the production program.
The third stage – assembly
The journey of the car through the assembly shop begins with removing the doors – they will be returned to the car at the very end of the process, but for now they will only interfere.
One of the very first operations (after integrating the main wiring) is the installation of the dashboard.It is supplied immediately assembled by the partners of the Hyundai plant – the Mobis company, whose enterprise is located in the so-called park of the plant’s suppliers just 2 km from it. Mobis is essentially a subsidiary of the Hyundai concern, but in Russia it acts as a separate company. Considering that the production of Mobis is located in Russia, it turns out that the dashboard is a domestic unit.
The gas tank that appears next to the car is also formally Russian, it is supplied by the Donghee company. This is another supplier from the park, located next to the plant.
A few more operations like installing the braking system – and the moment comes, which at the plant is proudly called “wedding”. It takes as much as several seconds, during which the movement of the body along the conveyor stops – then it will “catch up” with others.
Wedding – the moment of connecting the body and chassis, including the engine and suspension
After that, there are still many operations, but quite simple ones: glass, doors, chairs, wheels, filling process fluids and a couple of liters of fuel.Finally, the front bumper. It, in contrast to the rear, is installed at the last moment, when all work with the engine compartment is completed.
The car drives off the assembly line under its own power – and with the driver behind the wheel. But the car is not sent to the warehouse at all. Each of them will have to go through three more test lines. At the first one, they will check the camber, adjust the headlights, accelerate to 120 km / h, and test the brakes. The car will then drive across the street to the rain chamber for a tightness test.Finally, once again it will be necessary to check the quality of the paintwork.
Ostrich feathers and flower appliques in the Chanel couture collection
Show near the estate with a swimming pool
The Chanel couture show was traditionally held at the Grand Palais, which this time was turned into a manor house with a park, a swimming pool and palm trees. Models wore couture outfits on gravel paths. The collection includes fitted and fluffy dresses with ostrich feather and tulle trim, as well as embellished with voluminous flowers and embroidery.Part of the collection consisted of classic Chanel tweed suits with mini and midi skirts. The show was closed by a model in a swimsuit studded with crystals and sequins, and a swimming cap with a long veil.
This show will also be remembered for the fact that the creative director of Chanel Karl Lagerfeld did not go to the show at the end of the show. Instead, the studio director of the brand, Virginie Viard, appeared in front of the guests. At the last three Chanel shows, Viard came out with Lagerfeld.This fact gave rise to rumors that it was Virginie who could become Charles’s successor.
See also: 3D dresses and wire masks at the Iris Van Herpen couture show.
90,000 Ostrich feathers, opal stones and crystals in the image of Penelope Cruz on the carpet
After ten years in the film industry, Penelope Cruz has developed her ideal formula for success on the red carpet.On August 8, Somerset House premiered the film Pain and Glory, starring Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas. In the UK, the actress wore a gown from the Ralph & Russo haute couture collection Ralph & Russo embroidered with crystals, gemstones and feathers. Pale pink sandals and a clutch of a similar shade complement the look. For the premiere of the film in Spain, the actress chose a white haute couture dress from Chanel for the fall / winter 2019 season.
Pain and Glory is the story of Salvador Mallo (played by Antonio Banderas), who faces an eternal problem of choice and its consequences. Penelope Cruz, known for her roles in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, the drama Vanilla Sky, plays the role of the protagonist’s mother in Spanish psychodrama. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and will hit US screens on 23 August.
Photo: Getty Images
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Social ostrich – Weekly “Kommersant” – Kommersant
The ostrich fan in the tomb of Tutankhamun and the precious load of feathers on the Titanic are just episodes in the rich history of the relationship between man and the ostrich.At the end of the 19th century, thanks to these either animals, or birds, as well as immigrants from the Russian Empire, the South African town of Oudtshoorn turned into the world capital of ostrich breeding
An ostrich kick – an impetus to progress
In the second half of the 19th century, South African Oudtshoorn made a dismal impression. He was in the Cape Colony of Great Britain about halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, fifty kilometers from the ocean. The first European to visit this godforsaken place in January 1689 was the Dutch lieutenant and explorer Isak Schreiver.
Europeans began to settle in these parts a century later. The overwhelming majority of them were Afrikaners, descendants of colonists from Holland (Boers), France and Germany. On the banks of the Grobbelars River, a small town grew slowly around the Dutch Reformed Church, erected in 1839. At first, however, it was called Veldsundorp. Its second name – Oudtshoorn – it received in honor of the daughter of the Dutch baron Peter van Oudtshoorn, appointed by the East India Company as governor of the Cape Colony, which before the Congress of Vienna in 1814 belonged to the Netherlands.Oudtshoorn never made it to Cape Town, which was then called Kapstad in the Dutch manner. He died aboard a ship in 1772 while on a long voyage to the southern extremity of Africa.
The deep provinciality of Oudtshoorn in the first half of the 19th century was evidenced not only by a thick layer of dust on the streets, but also by the fact that the first small school in it opened a couple of decades later than the church. The Oudshoorns cultivated mainly grain, tobacco, as well as grapes from which they made wine.
Life at Oudtshoorn was measured.In the sixties of the century before last, a municipality and an Agricultural Society appeared in the town, then the construction of a large church began. Life seemed to begin to acquire an urban flavor, but the drought of 1859 crippled the economy of not only Oudtshoorn, but the entire southern Africa and led to widespread poverty. The drought lasted ten years. It was replaced by lingering downpours with floods.
It seemed that Oudtshoorn was destined to forever remain a provincial poor village, but in the next couple of decades a miracle happened – a depressed village turned into a thriving city in which life was in full swing.The main reason for the prosperity of Oudtshoorn can be summed up in one word – ostriches.
People have long understood that the ostrich is a useful animal
Photo: Mary Evans / DIOMEDIA
The ancient Greeks called ostriches and sparrows in one word – struthus. To avoid confusion, the word megas (huge) was added to ostriches. It is known that ostriches were found in the Mediterranean region as early as the 5th century BC.e. Images of these birds adorn the walls of numerous caves on the Black Continent.
Ostriches are the largest birds on the planet. An adult male can grow up to 2.5 meters and weigh 130–140 kg. They differ from other birds not only in size, but also in their inability to fly and sing. Ostriches compensate for these shortcomings by running fast. These are the fastest living creatures, moving on two legs. They are capable of speeds up to 70 km / h.
The Roman Emperor Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus fought ostriches as a gladiator
Photo: INTERFOTO / Alamy / DIOMEDIA
In addition to fast and strong legs, the blow of which can be fatal to humans, ostriches have excellent eyesight, but a small brain.They are omnivorous, but they prefer vegetarian food and only occasionally eat small lizards and snakes. Males keep harems of two to five females, so in a common nest there can be from 15 to 20 eggs, by the way the largest in the bird world. They are 40 times larger than chicken and have a very strong and thick shell – African tribes stored water in them.
Probably, thanks to such great differences, ostriches have always aroused genuine interest in people. Suffice it to recall the myth launched, by the way, by the ancient Roman writer Pliny the Elder, that frightened ostriches hide their heads in the sand.Another myth, born during early Christianity, says that
ostriches have, as they say, a tinned stomach and that they can digest everything, including iron. Therefore, on the coat of arms of the Austrian town of Leoben, which in the old days was famous for skilled blacksmiths, an ostrich still flaunts.
Aristotle considered ostriches partly birds, partly animals. An Arab legend about the origin of ostriches is curious. When Allah summoned all living creatures to himself in order to divide them by species and give them names, the ostrich remained to the side, deciding that it does not belong either to birds, because it cannot fly, or to animals, because it has two legs.
“You stood apart from your fellows,” Allah told him, “and chose loneliness. Well, this is your choice. So be it! ”
Semites and Sumerians considered ostriches to be demons, servants of the Mother (goddess) of darkness Tiamat. In Ancient Egypt, ostriches, as well as other animals and birds, were given great religious significance. The Egyptians associated them with the goddess of truth, justice, law and the world order of Maat. Their feathers were revered as the emblem of the air god Shu and symbolized truth and truth.
The Arabs believed that ostriches were often possessed by genies. Bushmen still believe that ostriches have supernatural powers. Dances imitating the movements of these birds have been an indispensable part of the rituals of African tribes for thousands of years.
More profitable than gold mines
People’s curiosity was often intertwined with practical interest. Ostriches have always been prized for their feathers. Suffice it to say that ostrich feathers were found, for example, in the tomb of Tutankhamun.They were also very popular in Ancient Rome, where, by the way, ostrich meat was considered a great delicacy and was served at imperial feasts. In later times, the fashion for ostrich feathers was returned by the English queen Elizabeth I and the French Marie Antoinette, who decorated their hats. Their big fans were Napoleon, Queen Victoria and even Elton John.
A fan of ostrich feathers found in the tomb of Tutankhamun
Photo: Mary Evans / DIOMEDIA
“A well-dressed woman,” one well-known fashion critic wrote at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, “should now look like a bird that just flew out of its nest.If you want to be considered fashionable this winter, wear feathers. ”
In the 19th century, ostrich feathers came to Europe, and later to America, mainly from the south of the Black Continent, from the Cape Colony, which in 1910 united with the rest of the British colonies of the region to form the Union of South Africa (SAU). It became the Republic of South Africa (South Africa) in 1961 after gaining independence.
Oudtshoorn has excellent weather all year round, with warm, dry summers and sunny winters.The Oudshoorns claim that the sun shines in their city 365 days a year and that they have four summers is not such a big exaggeration. The arid and warm climate of the Malé Karoo Plateau, where Oudtshoorn is located, is ideal for breeding ostriches, and the alluvial soils are ideal for alfalfa, the birds’ favorite food.
Joel Myers is considered the father of ostrich farming in South Africa. This farmer from Aberdeen, a town in the Greater Karoo near Oudtshoorn, was the first to domesticate wild ostriches in 1863.
Myers’ neighbors quickly realized that breeding ostriches was more profitable than farming, and began, following his example, to drive the birds into spacious corrals enclosed by high fences. Another impetus that contributed to the development of ostrich breeding was the invention of the Scotsman Arthur Douglas in 1869 of the ostrich incubator.
Ostrich Hub on the Thames
London The Times predicted back in 1864 that ostrich farming would soon surpass the “gold mines of Australia, California and Vancouver” in terms of profitability.The growth in the well-being of the population in Oudtshoorn and surrounding areas was indeed three times higher than the average in the Cape Colony.
Ostrich farms in South Africa at some point became an alternative to gold mining
Photo: Alamy / DIOMEDIA
Naturally, the profits from the ostrich boom were unevenly distributed. For example, the Boers, who continued to grow grapes and tobacco, were left out of the ostrich fever.Initially, only hundreds of people could participate in the distribution of super-profits from breeding ostriches, because both ostrich farming itself and alfalfa cultivation did not create so many jobs. For example, ostrich breeders hired farm laborers for only eight months, and the rest of the time they managed themselves. Prices for ostrich feathers were skyrocketing. In 1821, the Cape Colony exported 1,230 kg of feathers to England for a total of 115,590 Riksdollars (£ 8,700). A third of a century later, in 1858, a batch of feathers weighing 915 kg was sold twice as expensive.
The fashion of decorating oneself with feathers has made the ostrich interesting for business
Photo: The Print Collector / Getty Images
The population of ostriches grew even more rapidly, despite the high mortality rate of ostriches before the invention of incubators. In 1865, there were only 80 domestic ostriches in Oudtshoorn, but after ten years their number had grown to 20 thousand.
The ostrich family (male and female) cost a thousand pounds sterling in 1875-1880, which was very solid money at that time.In addition to land for alfalfa and at least three ostrich pairs, ostrich breeders bought incubators and other equipment, and also built a simple “ostrich infrastructure” in the form of corrals and sheds. In total, it took about £ 10,000 to create an ostrich farm.
With the help of incubators, farmers have increased the number of ostriches many times over
Photo: UIG via Getty Images
By the end of the 19th century, the world market for ostrich feathers gradually developed with all market attributes – speculation, risks, options, futures, etc.After careful sorting, the feathers were put in wooden boxes, the sides and bottom of which were covered with sheets of tin or special paper, and sent by rail or horse-drawn wagons to Mosselbay. From there they were transported by sea to London, where they were sold at auctions.
At first, pen auctions were held every two months, then monthly, and at the end of the 19th century – twice a month. Catalogs with pictures and detailed descriptions of lots were printed specially for them. Most buyers gathered at auctions in June and December.
The auctioneers and everyone associated with the ostriches were making huge amounts of money. For example, experts were highly appreciated. Feather evaluation was very difficult and required a lot of knowledge and experience. Suffice it to say that over 40 different types of ostrich feathers could be found at the auctions, which often even the most experienced hatters could not figure out.
Most of the ostrich feathers were imported by Great Britain, the USA and France. In 1905, for example, the United Kingdom accounted for 31% of feathers, almost 20% went to America and France.British hatters in 1903-1914 bought feathers annually for £ 1-2 million, American in 1907-1911 – for $ 1.08-1.63 million, and French in 1912 – for almost 8 million francs. The rest of the European countries lagged behind the top three: Germany – 11%, Austria-Hungary and the Netherlands – about 8%.
The popularity of ostrich feathers at the beginning of the last century is evidenced by even such a little-known fact: together with the Titanic, a load of feathers worth £ 20 thousand went to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
South African exodus
The first ostrich boom in Oudtshoorn began in 1875 and lasted for about a decade.It was in those years that Lithuanian Jews flocked to this tiny dusty town, who made ostrich farming one of the main branches of the South African economy.
Jews who moved from the former Russian Empire were among the first to start breeding ostriches in South Africa
Jews left tsarist Russia in search of a better life, where in the second half of the 19th century there were 10 million of them, to many countries, including the United States and Australia.In addition to pogroms, poverty also drove them out of the Russian Empire. Not surprisingly, the outbursts of migration coincided with all sorts of fevers, primarily with the discoveries of gold, whether in America, Australia or southern Africa, where diamonds were added to gold.
The gold that helped build Johannesburg was discovered in the south of the continent in 1886, and diamonds two decades earlier. Thousands of Russian citizens of Jewish origin from Poland, the Baltic States and Ukraine left for South Africa in the hope of getting rich.Most of the migrants were from Lithuania. They started out in Johannesburg with gold mining, but then dispersed throughout the country. It so happened that several hundred Jewish families, mainly from two Lithuanian cities – Shavli (from 1917 Šiauliai) and Kelme, settled in Oudtshoorn. Ostriches and their feathers became gold and diamonds for them.
With the light hand of Leib Feldsman, a researcher on the role of Jews in the development of Africa, Oudtshorn in the forties of the twentieth century received another name – Jerusalem of Africa. During the heyday of the Jewish diaspora, which came at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, it was home to over 600 families of immigrants from Lithuania, the overwhelming majority of whom were engaged in ostrich breeding.
Jews from Shavli and Kelme were so eager to buy and sell ostrich feathers, and then to breed ostriches, because this business in many ways resembled what most of them were doing in their historical homeland: the textile industry, tanning and leather dressing, furs and, of course, trade.
After the end of the Second Boer War (1899–1902), the golden age of ostrich breeding began. In 1903-1913, the export of ostrich feathers from the Cape Colony, and after 1910, the Cape Province of the Union of South Africa increased to £ 13 million.The feathers of the largest birds on the planet have become a very significant source of income for the dominion treasury. Suffice it to say that the export of ostrich feathers was second only to the export of gold, diamonds and wool in terms of budget revenues.
Ostrich farming not only brought profit to farmers, but also attracted tourists to the boondocks
Photo: Fox Photos / Getty Images
According to the laws of economics, a boom must be followed by a recession.In 1914, the popularity of ostrich feathers plummeted. Wealthy Europeans and Americans, who paid huge sums of money for ostrich feathers, instantly forgot about them. As a result, thousands of ostrich breeders in southern Africa, as well as in California, Arizona and Florida, who also tried to breed ostriches at the turn of the century, went bankrupt.
There are many reasons for the collapse of ostrich farming. On the surface is the car version. One of the “killers” of ostrich feathers is considered to be a car, which just in those years was energetically becoming fashionable and replacing horse-drawn carriages.Headdresses decorated with ostrich feathers, which reached up to half a meter in length, turned out to be not the most suitable accessory for walking in open cars, blown by the wind and moving much faster than horse-drawn carriages. Hats with ostrich feathers had to be replaced with hats more suitable for fast driving.
Other reasons, of course, are to blame for the crisis in ostrich farming. For example, the quite understandable fashion for modesty and the fight against excesses, which supplanted extravagance and the habit of wasting money everywhere with the outbreak of the First World War.
Animal protectors also played a role. Ostrich breeders were unlucky: animal advocates advocated a ban on the sale of feathers from wild birds that were threatened with destruction. But the ostriches, which were bred in captivity, were not threatened with extinction. Ostrich breeders have argued that plucking feathers is the same painless procedure as, say, haircutting a person in a hairdresser. “King of the ostriches” Max Rose, which will be discussed below, compared plucking the feathers of ostriches with caring for a person’s nails. Despite this,
ostrich breeders were badly affected.In the twenties, decoration with bird feathers, primarily, of course, with ostrich feathers, in the United States and Britain began to be banned even at the legislative level.
The crisis is, of course, also to blame for the overproduction of feathers, caused, among other things, by the competition from Californian ostrich breeders, who, with their typical American energy, fought for the market with South African farmers. By the summer of 1914, all warehouses in London, the main transshipment base, or, as they would now say, the ostrich feather hub, were crammed with ostrich feathers.
California ostrich breeders quickly outperformed their South African counterparts in productivity and quality
Photo: Mary Evans / DIOMEDIA
Feathers suddenly stopped buying. Ostrich breeders, who were millionaires a few days ago, went bankrupt almost overnight. The famous Gillis family of Lithuanian Jews is often cited as an example, who earned many millions from ostriches and their feathers.After the crisis of 1914, Solomon Gillis kept two framed bank checks on the wall of his office: one for £ 100 thousand was held by the bank in 1914, and the second, a year later, for … £ 1 was rejected for a good reason – the lack of sufficient funds on the client’s account …
Ostriches of all countries, connect
Most of the breeders in Oudtshoorn plucked birds about every eight months. However, such intensive ostrich farming had a negative impact on the quality of the products. After the fifth harvest, the quality of the feathers deteriorated significantly.Feathers from the fifth collection cost about 30-40 times cheaper than feathers from the first collection.
But even the best feathers of the South African ostriches were significantly inferior in quality to the feathers of the so-called Barbary ostriches that lived much north of the Cape Colony. The feathers of ostriches from the north were called “feathers with double down” for their dense plumage. In 1913, their feathers were selling for three times the price of those of the first collection of common South African ostriches.
In 1911, in the midst of the golden age of ostrich farming, ostrich breeders from California entered the market.In southern Africa, they realized that the only way to maintain leadership in the industry was to improve the quality of the product, that is, to breed ostriches that would produce higher quality feathers. The solution to the problem lay on the surface – to cross the South African and Barbary ostriches. So the idea was born to send an expedition to the north of the continent in order to find ostriches for crossing.
In 1910, a parcel arrived in Cape Town from the Libyan Tripoli from the British consul with a bunch of feathers with double down.They were brought by a caravan of Arabs from Sudan, as the vast region south of the Sahara was then called. In a matter of weeks, a secret Trans-Saharan expedition headed by Russell Thornton, head of the agricultural department of the Cape Province, was equipped to the north of the continent. After a long and difficult search, the travelers managed to identify the area in the west of the continent, where ostriches with perfect feathers were found.
Thornton received the consent of the South African government to buy for £ 7 thousand from the French authorities, which owned the area inhabited by the Barbary ostriches, 150 live birds and transport them to the south of the continent.However, it turned out to be impossible to obtain permission from the French colonial authorities. This, by the way, was not surprising, because the British themselves forbade the export of ostriches and ostrich eggs from the Cape colony. Cape Town asked London for help, but government intervention did not help either.
Travelers, at their own peril and risk, went to French Sudan, the territory along the upper and middle reaches of the Niger and Senegal rivers, which is now Mali. To confuse the French and American spies, who were understandably keenly interested in the expedition, Thornton divided his subordinates into three groups and sent them in different directions.
The main group, after numerous adventures, managed to buy 156 Berber ostriches, which were carried by local porters in specially made boxes to Lagos and transported by sea to Cape Town.
The goal of the expedition was achieved. Unfortunately, the South Africans’ joy did not last long. Before they had time to acclimatize visiting ostriches, cross them with local ones and start obtaining the cherished feathers on an industrial scale, 1914 brought the collapse of ostrich breeding.
The “King of Ostriches” and the Queen of the British quickly found a common language.
In the hope of surviving, ostriches were put under the knife or set free and returned to growing tobacco and grapes, breeding cattle.By the end of the First World War, the number of birds had decreased almost threefold, from 870 thousand to 314 thousand.By 1930, the number of domestic ostriches had decreased by another 10 times – to 32 thousand, and ten years later there were no more than 2 thousand
Very few ostrich breeders remained loyal to ostriches and did not get rid of them in the hope that another boom would begin some time after the recession. One of them was the “king of the ostriches” Max Rose.
Max Rose, Jew from Lithuania, “King of the Ostriches”
Max came to South Africa from Shawli alone, without friends or family, penniless in 1890, when he was only 17 years old.Oudtshoorn’s ostrich business was one of the recessions at the time. Rose nevertheless believed in the potential of huge birds and decided to start breeding them. True, he began, like most of his compatriots, with the purchase of feathers, the study of birds and everything that could be useful in breeding them.
The Lithuanian possessed a remarkable mind, business ingenuity, energy and hard work. Not without luck, of course. With this combination, business success was not long in coming. A few years later, he already bought a farm where he could raise ostriches himself.
Rose was one of the first to grow alfalfa using irrigation in Oudtshoorn and the entire Cape Colony. His intuition did not disappoint him here either. The ostriches liked the alfalfa. It also became a good safety cushion against the vagaries of the ostrich business and the fickleness of beautiful ladies. It didn’t take long, and Max began to send alfalfa by train to all parts of the country, because cattle also ate it with pleasure.
Youth did not prevent Max Rose from becoming the “king of the ostriches” and one of the pillars of the Oudtshoorn and Cape Jewish diasporas.He differed from most of the “ostrich barons” not only in intelligence, but also in frugality.
Very few ostrich breeders and feather traders could resist the temptations of unexpected riches. Oudtshoorn, the world capital of ostrich farming, stood out among the many similar South African towns that emerged, like Johannesburg, as a result of some fever, with the presence of outlandish mansions, similar to fabulous palaces. They were built with money received from the sale of ostrich feathers, and therefore were called feather palaces.
These mansions embodied the wildest fantasies of the “ostrich barons” and combined a whimsical mixture of Victorian, Ottoman, Greek and Gothic architectural styles. They had everything that an inventive nouveau riche could think of: turrets and spiers, gilded mirrors, mahogany-paneled walls, floors of precious woods, hand-painted ceilings, expensive furniture made of oak, walnut and mahogany, which were brought in. from the metropolis; silver dishes, bedding made of the finest Irish linen and much, much more that can be bought for a lot of money.
Feather palaces, which still serve as a reminder of the former glory of Oudtshoorn, were built during the boom years, in the first decade of the twentieth century, by most of the “ostrich barons”. Max Rose spent nearly six decades in Oudtshoorn at the Tsentralnaya Hotel. All his time, according to his niece Pauline Eisen, who often visited him in childhood, he gave to his beloved ostriches.
Max never married. He woke up at 5:30 and after a light breakfast in a hotel restaurant, he went to his farms.Pauline and her mother were waiting for his return at the hotel, where he arrived no earlier than nine o’clock in the evening. After dinner at the restaurant I went to bed.
The “ostrich king”, according to his niece, treated money easily. Rose often borrowed large sums of money to familiar farmers without any receipts and spent a lot of money on charity.
Max Rose was the real “king of the ostriches”. He was personally acquainted with the British queen. During a visit to South Africa in 1947, Elizabeth, then, however, the heir to the throne, herself insisted on a personal acquaintance with a “colleague” in the title.Elizabeth was a fan of ostrich feathers. She greatly contributed to the return of the popularity of ostrich feathers in the forties and, naturally, could not help but take the opportunity to get to know Rose.
As far as frugality is concerned, like so much else, Max Rose was right. The golden age of ostrich breeders at the beginning of the 20th century was short-lived. Like the rest of the ostrich breeders, he lost everything, but thanks to clairvoyance and economy, he did not become a beggar. A year before the crisis, Max sold for £ 200,000.farm “Veldtevreden”, bought in 1906 for £ 18 thousand near Ladysmith. By the way, in 1915 its price fell to £ 15,000.
Unlike colleagues in the profession, Max Rose did not give up the main wealth. He kept his favorite birds, although, of course, he was forced to significantly reduce their number. At the same time, Max regularly fed the ostriches even when he himself had nothing to eat.
The recession was surprisingly protracted and lasted a quarter of a century. It was interrupted for a short time only once, in the mid-twenties, after the discovery by Howard Carter in 1922 of the tomb of Tutankhamun, in which ostrich feathers were found.
Max Rose was right this time too. When prices for ostrich feathers and the demand for ostrich meat and leather began to rise in the 1940s, he had a fifth of all ostrich herds in South Africa. Rose’s authorities were respected. The government commissioned him to study the restoration of the ostrich market. His recommendations, including the creation of a centralized nib market, were accepted. The market gradually recovered, although it did not reach pre-war heights.
Ostrich feathers went out of fashion more than a century ago, but they are still in demand today
Photo: Evening Standard / Getty Images
In the last years of his life, Max Rose retired somewhat from work.He devoted most of his time to charity and the fate of Oudtshoorn’s Jewish diaspora, which had shrunk significantly between the world wars. Rose died in 1951 and was buried in the Oudtshoorn Jewish cemetery …
Now, thanks to the popularity of lean ostrich meat and the fashion for ostrich skin, which is widely used to make expensive clothes, shoes and handbags, the ostrich industry is experiencing another boom, which, however, cannot be compared with the boom of a century ago.As for Oudtshoorn, its population is already approaching 100 thousand people.
Ostriches have been feeding the South African town of Oudtshoorn for over 150 years
Photo: Hemis / AFP / EASTNEWS
Oudtshoorn remains the ostrich capital of the world today. Suffice it to say that about 20 thousand birds live on several hundred ostrich farms in the vicinity of the city. In Oudtshoorn, everything is still associated with ostriches, but tourism is still the main source of income.In spite of everything, ostriches remain the main attraction of Oudtshoorn. Tourists from all over the world come to this city to visit real ostrich farms, learn more about the largest birds of the planet and ride them, as well as visit the picturesque stalactite caves of Cango in its vicinity.
Ostrich feathers in the decor of clothes and accessories
Since the beginning of 2018, a new fashion boom has begun in the world. World-famous designers, as if trying to make up for lost time over the past hundred years, have actively introduced clothes with feathers as decoration into their everyday wardrobe.
The fashion for using ostrich feathers to decorate clothes, hats and accessories began in the 17th century – during the reign of Louis XIV. The French style came to the taste of the nobility of other European states, and by the 18th century, the boom swept all of Europe, later reaching the United States.
With the onset of industrialization, the fashion for feathers weakened, leaving them throughout the 20th century only in the decor of evening, stage dresses and haute couture clothes. This continued until 2018, when fashion houses Gucci, VOGUE, Carolina Herrera and others proclaimed the triumphant return of feathers to everyday wear.
The original finishing material was also liked by the craftsmen engaged in the manufacture of handmade accessories and costumes for artistic gymnastics and ballroom dancing. With them, clothes and jewelry take on a completely different sound and character. None of the existing decoration options can match the effect that ostrich feathers give:
- They look great both in statics and in dynamics, which allows making a costume for performances not just expressive, it becomes a full-fledged participant in the performance, continuing the athlete’s movements and focusing attention on them.
- Combines with all fabrics and finishes used in jewelry and sports swimwear and dresses. The smooth texture of the material emphasizes the weightlessness of the feather, its use in combination with lace makes the outfit even more feminine and airy.
- A large selection of shades allows the suit to be manufactured in full compliance with the official rules of the IDSF and the International Gymnastics Federation.