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When I work with decorative papers, the wind is my enemy. One moment, papers are neatly stacked in carefully sorted piles and a single gust later, chaos! Enter the paperweight. Or as I like to call them, featherweights.

Some might say that I make paperweights to have an excuse to wander on the beach in search of the perfect stone, and that’s certainly true. But paperweights also allow me to indulge in an ongoing fascination, drawing feathers.

After experimenting with different drawing tools, I settled on an old-fashioned metal-nibbed dipping pen, since it makes hairline marks and satisfying scratching sounds when it drags against the stone. Acrylic ink is perfect: if I make a mistake, I plop the stone into my water jar and the ink slides off, but if I’m happy with the outcome, I let it dry and the ink becomes indelible.

The quest soon became, just how thin can a line get, and how close together can the lines be while remaining legible? The stones are small, most less than two inches/5 cm across, so it’s a challenge.

I like the curvy feathers best. They’re all drawn freehand, no sketching or planning first. Each feather gradually finds its form. They take only a few minutes to draw.

Featherweights like to hang out together in small flocks.

Sometimes the Feather Muse will be off taking a snooze, so I’ll draw something other than feathers. I have a bit of a soft spot for beetles.

But at the end of the day, the visual pun of drawing a light, airy feather on a smooth, solid stone usually wins out.

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