Thanks to Charlie vestal, a member of our local Cotinga Club, and Marvin Nolte, a frequent and welcomed visitor to our monthly sessions, a simple idea was spawned in my mind to shape golden pheasant crests and other feathers. Charlie had machined a device that looked like a shot glass with grooves around its circumference which allowed crests to be placed into them thus shaping them to different curvatures. This was a clever idea but restrictive because the grooves prevented you from spreading the individual crest fibers for your tail, wing, or throat.
Marvin, who has a device or tool for everything (or is about invent one), simply uses different sized glasses to shape his crests and has a formula for size depending on whether it is a tail or a topping he is shaping. In a search to build on Marvin’ approach, I happened upon a very accessible and free-of-charge alternative at the local pharmacy.
The drug stores that I contacted were more than willing to provide plastic pill bottles in different sizes. I obtained 1 1/4, 1 5/8 and 7/8". There are other sizes available, but I found that these three sizes seemed to meet my needs the best.
Besides diversity of size, these vials offer several other features that are helpful. First, they nest inside each other to minimize storage space. Second, they are of a rusty orange color that contrasts with the gold of the crests, allowing one to easily see that the crest's stem is straight and the fibers are aligned as desired. Third, the bottles have lock nodes on the upper edge that secure the lids. These nodes serve nicely to keep the bottles from rolling around. We want to place the on their sides so that the crests will not droop as they are drying possibly causing an undesirable lateral curve in the stem.
This idea may not necessarily revolutionize your tying, but it will hopefully be of some value. Sometimes the simplest approaches provide the most sophisticated solutions.