I embellished Zhang He’s gauntlets with real peacock eyes. The process is simple, but it requires some trickery that I only learned by messing up the first attempts.
Decoupage glue. Royal Coat worked for me.
Brushes. You will need a largish brush and a tiny one. My tiny brush is a 1/8 angular.
1) Do a test run.
Before gluing anything at all, place the feather and practice manipulating the filaments where you want them to go. This process requires a light touch, and it’s better figured out now than when the filaments are coated with rapidly drying glue. When you’re confident in your skills, this step can be skipped.
2) Lay a base coat of glue.
Brush glue onto the surface where the dense part of your feather will go. In the case of a peacock feather, this would be the oval eye.
3) Place the feather.
Carefully lay the feather down. If the filaments in the dense part need to be moved, do this now. For instance, if you’re gluing a peacock eye, you will probably need to scoot the filaments around to get rid of gaps. Let your work dry before the next step.
4) Glue the filaments.
It’s time to be patient and delicate. The idea is to adhere the filaments while avoiding glue overload and controlling where they go. The first time I tried gluing a peacock eye, I brushed the fringe from the eye outward, accidentally pulling it straight. This might be okay for your project, but it wasn’t the look I wanted.
Arrange the filaments if necessary. Pick up a tiny drop of glue on your small brush. Working from the dense part of the feather outward, gently and carefully stroke the filament. If you’re gluing a thicker filament or a clump, you may have to use a bit more glue and hold the filament in place for a few moments as it dries.
You may wish to seal your feathers with decoupage glue. I didn’t glue the surface of my peacock eyes because that dulls their iridescence, and my prop doesn’t have to withstand anything that would harm the feathers. I’ve seen other people seal them with some sort of clear iron-on vinyl, which seemed to work well.