August 27, 2012

A Bird House, as in, if birds built a house

Blog, bird houses and the making thereof are nothing new. But the other night I asked myself, if birds had opposable thumbs and carpentry skills and tiny tools, what sort of houses would they build? The construction would be more elaborate that you see in your typical nest, but wouldn't there still be a bird-ish sense of style? Twigs, twine, bits of found objects? And seriously, how cool would the result be?

This cool:

Yes, I decided to make this daydream come true with my own crafty crafting skills.  What a blast I had too, in the nine hours it took me to construct this Bird House from the ground up.  I dare say I called upon almost every skill, tool, and technique in my repertoire (and also benefited from some lessons I'd learned from previous mistakes).  I'm pretty stoked about the result if I do say so myself.

Here's how it all went down.

First off, I went around the house gathering up all the materials I had on hand that a bird might use if he were some feathered combo of Mike Holmes and Scott MacGillivray. I also perused the neighborhood for twigs and pine cones.  Here's the stash I compiled to your right.

I happen to be a sucker for driftwood, rocks, moss, silk plants, and other natural or faux-natural materials, so I had a lot of that around. I also had things like wood scraps, jar lids, a tiny flower pot, charms, felting wool, potpourri, ribbons, buttons, yada yada.

So, I started with a basic construction plan. For that I needed a sturdy base and some components to serve as a basis for the rooms of the Bird House. I fooled around and ended up with this set of items that looked like they would work.

That dome on the left is a broken wine glass. I was really sad when I found the glass had broken on the way home from our vacation, but it occurred to me to save it in case it would come in handy one day.  A couple months later...heck yeah! (I should mention here that I'm not as huge a packrat as I seem--all my craft equipment, tools and supplies would fit easily in a medium size closet if consolidated.) I got to employ my Dremel tool to do a little woodworking, always a thrill!

Now, how to make these items look like bird construction materials.... Well, one polymer clay technique in my arsenal is the making of faux wood.

Here are "veneer" sheets ready to be applied to the boxes. I also had some leftover faux marble-like stuff that was a good fit for the project. So here's the main box covered with faux wood, with a stone and wood door with iron hardware added.

The lump on the side is a piece of stick mounted in place, which was to support the patio deck. I really had to apply my engineering skills a few times during this project.

And here to the right is the wine glass, which I confess worked out even better than I hoped. I cut windows in the clay on both sides so the light would shine all the way through.

Now of course it's nice to vary the building materials a bit. I thought it would be cool to have some stone walls, but I didn't want the rocks to be falling out all the time. So I reasoned that birds might make the walls of mud and small rocks mixed together, so I went for that. I'm not gonna lie, Blog--doing this on the four sides of this room took a very long time. Anyway, here's the room with just mud, and a doorway cut in the front of the box.

I also covered the jar lid with the same stone stuff as the front door, and applied some wood vines to the jar itself. Everything was ready to bake at last. While the pieces were in the oven, I fixed up my little flower pot with fake dirt and flowers. I also used resin in one of the jar lids to look like water, and glued birdseed in the other lid. The oven timer went off...

Not bad, but I wanted to add a mossy look to my faux wood. You know Blog, like the actual sticks I was using had. So, I used Swellegant faux finish for this; the copper paint turns green, so it worked like a charm. Meanwhile, I also added rust patina to the door hardware.

I gathered all the key components, hammer and nails, and my Gorilla Glue and went to town putting everything together. Here it is, the basic construction of the Bird House:

Now, you see in that shot that I already did some festooneries on the jar. I mounted a tea light inside the lid (with a cunning design of rubber bands and electrical tape). I put some moss in the bottom and settled in my little bird's nest from a previous project. Voila, an incubation room to provide relief to a busy bird mom! Ribbons and a pine cone finished it off--for now, anyway. You also see I used a mushroom Christmas ornament to top off the wine glass. It has an opening in it, and inside I tucked a little cushion of moss.

So, after a break for dinner and TV with Davie, it was time to come back and do the rest of the festoonery. Now this is the truly fun part! I got out my white wood glue and my Superglue, and went to town--as you will see in the detail shots here.

Mama bird is from the aforementioned previous project. And here you see how the mud-and-rock wall came out. Some sticks, a potpourri pine-coney thing, ribbon, moss, and a golden leafy vine charm compliment the beauty of the wall. Inside the room is some comfy, curly wool...this is, after all, the master bedroom.

Atop this room is the windowed cupola, candlelit inside for cozy reading or billing and cooing. It's crowned with the mushroom playhouse, currently occupied by the resident family's fledgling daughter. Festooneries here include twine and fungus, neat.

Talk about curb--er--branch appeal...check out the front door of the bird house's "great room." I framed up this part of the building with pretty sticks and a stately pine cone. The rosebuds and little seed cluster thingies were in my potpourri bag. I made a "wreath" from a button and some ribbon. And the welcome mat is flower petals.

Here's the final shot of the nursery. Moss conceals the glue around the pine cone topper, and decorates the base. I think you can tell, Blog, how much I dig moss.

Closeup of the nest. The eggs and sticks are polymer clay, and I also used bits of thread to construct the nest.  Chip away, little hatchlings!

The patio is a great place to entertain guests, or just relax and refresh. The family can enjoy water and food in a spacious setting framed out in rustic sticks, and resplendent with greenery and a collection of beautiful stones and raw gems. Here the daddy bird, also previously made, enjoys a drink in the shade of the potted plant.

Beneath the patio is the leaf swing, a real leaf (from the potpourri) hung on twine ropes. A great place to "hang out."

Of course I had to make sure the back of the house was also attractive--don't want the neighbors to have a boring view!  By the way, the toppers on those two tall sticks were more weird natural items from the potpourri idea what they are, but they look nice!

Here's a close up of the back wall. Tiles leftover from our bar backsplash project fit right in with the faux wood, and support more clumps and dangles of fun moss.

The Bird House looks uber-cozy by night.

The candle flickers in the cupola room.

And the eggs stay cozy in the nursery.

And here, Blog, is the Bird House as a centerpiece in our dining room. I'm expecting the birds on our patio to be pounding on the patio doors asking for a home tour.  You know, like aviary House Hunters.

So, Blog, that's the story of what happens when our feathered friends meet HGTV. At least the way we imagine it here at Magic House....

[For larger resolution images, see my Flickr feed.


  1. This is a grand project. Wow! You are creative; I never would've thought to use a wine glass in a bird house! Really cool house!

  2. Wow! This is, like everything you make, simply incredible! I love the detail. :) Well done!

  3. Thanks, Sam--too bad I did it after your visit, but hopefully you'll see it in person someday!