Artist carves exquisite silhouettes from fallen bird feathers

Chris Maynard
© Chris Maynard

Feathers aren't just the fabulous epidermal growths of our avian friends -- they can also be found in termite-resistant building board and faster circuit boards, and in the delicate works like those of Olympia, Washington-based American artist Chris Maynard.

© Chris Maynard
© Chris Maynard

Maynard, who was originally trained as an entomologist, professes to be “feather obsessed” and is an avid bird-watcher. He creates his dioramic works using feathers collected from zoos, nonprofit bird rescue organizations and private aviaries.

Maynard first began by photographing feathers, then moved onto arranging them in shadow boxes. He's since developed his own technique of cutting bird-shapes from actual feathers and arranging them in careful compositions, perfected with the help of fine eye surgery tools he inherited from his ophthalmologist father. As he tells Smithsonian.com:

When I work, I put on big nerdy magnifying glasses to see the feathers’ details.

© Chris Maynard
© Chris Maynard
© Chris Maynard
© Chris Maynard

The precision of his cutting and composition are quite clear in his pieces, and Maynard admits:

I am pretty mathematical about it. I want each piece to be in the right place.

But it's not just an obsession with feathers, as Maynard explains that there's a message between the lines:

I hope that seeing birds in a different light through my artwork will encourage appreciation of avian life and hence a desire to conserve it.

© Chris Maynard
© Chris Maynard

Intricate and fantastic, Maynard's feather-inspired pieces encourage us to take another look at one of nature's most wonderful designs. More over at Chris Maynard's website.

Tags: Artists | Arts