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You might remember that I had a spell of making felt birds. They were so labour intensive that I only did two of them. Here is one.

felt koolmees

my felt coal tit

I love birds, we live in northern Holland and our bird feeder sees a good variety of songbirds visiting every winter. I wanted a way to have birds around me in my living space too. When looking on the web for models to paint or construct, I stumbled upon Johan Scherft’s videos of paper birds and was immediately sold!

He offers quite a few free models on his site and I started with those. My first attempt was a firecrest, it failed miserably but taught me the basic principles-  here is the second attempt. You can still see the seam where the head meets the body not quite perfectly, but gradually you get better at the glueing and fitting. This was a sweet but tiny model to begin with.

silvercerst

Firecrest paper bird model, all models designed and painted by J Scherft, and assembled by me

A word of caution, these are not projects to do with children, they are far too intricate, and they require a good dose of patience. The more I do, the better they work out, and the more appreciation I have for the exquisite rendering of the feathers, eyes, beaks etc. Not to mention how the whole birds are engineered, so that from a flat sheet of 80g paper, you end up with various parts- beak, head, tail cone, tail, which all fit together to form a perfect 3D model. Here is the firecrest sheet.

templatefirecrest

cardinal in progress

Cardinal under construction, this one is from the box available from Amazon 

cardinal1

Here is the big guy done. Cardinals mean Pittsburgh and my US home to me, they have a special place in my heart, especially since they are not native to Europe, and we never get to hear their beautiful melodic trills here. God I miss them. But the blackbird’s song come in a close second.

Here is an American Goldfinch, also from the paper birds box. It costs around 16 euros and includes a great instruction book, glue, and 4 models plus mounts for 4 different birds, so you can make 16 birds from it. I just perched this little guy on a twig for now.

goldfinch2goldfinch1

nuthatch

There is a lot to love about these bird models, one thing is how he captures the personality of each bird. This is a nuthatch and his mount is a little paper log, his feet are spread in a characteristic pose, one ahead and one pointing back, you usually see them hanging upside down on the bark of a tree.

You might be wondering by now if doing these birds is addictive. Well, I’m on my 8th model now, what do you think? :-). Thing is that the crafting is very meditative. With a small sharp scissors, you cut out all the parts, then patiently glue the tabs and let them dry one by one. It can take hours to make one bird and a mount, but it is so rewarding.

Here is the wren.

wren2wren

Today I finished the humming bird, it is in honour of my mother, Monica, who loved hummingbirds.

Here he is hanging in my studio. This, by the way is the Big model (!!) The life sized one is tinier and is a whole new challenge in itself. Scherft kindly offers this one free to practice on first. (The tiny life sized one is free too). And for many of the birds he has excellent tutorials available on his site and on YouTube.

hummingbird large

Here is a view of my board in the studio, gradually I’m gathering all these little bird beings around me.

Inspired? Here is Johan’s site, have fun! And thanks Johan.

prikboord

 

 

 

 

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Real felt birds

March 11, 2017

DSC06637_DxO resized

photo Rende Zoutewelle

Painting has been low key for awhile. I’ve tried showing up at the canvas anyway, but end up just rehashing stale ideas. It is a period where I need fresh input, so I’ll be giving it a rest until inspiration comes again.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on the little guy above. I’m not quite sure what got me started on making felt birds. I had made a flock of them as brooches several years ago.

Maybe it is because the birds around here (northern Europe) lift my spirits. Not only do I regularly see blue cranes on my walks, but also flocks of geese stringing across the big skies chattering and calling to each other; and that rare treat, a swan family, whooping above with the wonderful whooshing of the wings. You just feel like you got blessed when they have passed by.

My husband has rigged up several bird feeders close to our large dining room windows and we’ve come to know the regular visitors well. Sparrows of course, coal tits like the one above, chaffinches, blue tits, ring doves, and English robins are the main ones. I just love the coal tits with their neat little black fronts and soft yellow bellies and sides. They like sunflower seeds best and will perch at the feeder tossing out everything else until they get to a prize, then they retreat to a higher branch and crack it open by holding it between their claws and pecking at it until they get to the meaty part. Chaffinches and robins will sit on the ground gratefully picking up the rejects thrown out by the coal tits. Watching the interactions between the birds is also entertaining.

coal tit n finch1

So basically I made these birds to keep me company upstairs in my studio. The chaffinch is kind of crude, it was a first prototype . They definitely have some kind of presence, though, because our dog is jealous of them!

DSC06639_DxO resized

photo Rende Zoutewelle

If I do make more (not for awhile, they are So Much Work) I’d do a sparrow next.  They are incredibly beautiful when you stop to look – with soft grey feathers and reddish chestnut caps and streaks of black, and various browns on the head and wings. There are also white accents, bringing out the contrast of all the different feathers. And did you know there are dozens of different types of sparrows? I didn’t until recently.

Anyway, the weather here is more springlike, so instead of sitting inside making felt birds, I’ll be out in the garden enjoying the real ones!

My art today

April 16, 2015

This morning I woke up with a number of things I could do. I could work on my book. There was also a painting in progress on my easel after a small dry spell. And there were several small tasks I could do concerning two community projects I’m working on. So, avoiding all these worthy tasks, of course I started to collect materials to make a holder for nesting material for the birds in our garden. Obvious, huh?

Why, when I have been longing to get into working with my paints, do I often try to avoid it all day? Maybe it is still because I separate it from my professional life, I can’t see it as ‘work’, so try to get other things done first. Maybe it is the feeling of how when I’m into the painting, it kind of grabs me by the neck and won’t let go; and whether it is going well or stuck, simply demands all of my attention.

Or more likely, I think I love this stage of painting most- when the sketch is there, no commitments have been made, and everything is still possible.

Who knows? At least the birds will be happy this spring. I hung it near the bird feeder and so far they have only been sussing it out at a distance.

Making it was really fun though, so was the procrastination, so much so that I didn’t do anything much all day.

A few tips about providing nesting materials can be found here.

Nesting materials holder

Nesting materials holder

 

Daffodil art- the mobile

March 26, 2015

daffodil mobile

daffodil mobile                photo Rende Zoutewelle

This mobile was created from dried out daffodil flowers and their still green stems. It was near impossible to photograph since the air currents in the house kept moving it. And because it was against a window with a lot going on visually in the background, the photographer had to wait until evening to shoot it- and of course there is less light, necessitating a longer exposure. This in turn makes it a challenge to get something so prone to movement in focus, so thanks to my woodworker husband whom, luck has it, is also a professional photographer.

Below is reminder of the separate components before I strung them up (see post before this, Nature art). And below that are a few similar projects using natural materials, from previous posts, either here or on my other blog, tending time

spiral 1

spiral 1

grass ring from Pieterpad walk

grass ring from Pieterpad walk

feathers and grasses from Pieterpad walk

feathers and grasses from Pieterpad walk

 

 

‘Gifting’ has several different meanings these days, the way I’m using it is simply the making and giving of gifts. People have been especially appreciating my packages lately, calling them, ‘a typical Sarah’ gift. I receive so much pleasure in making and presenting them that I thought I’d spread the wealth.

The last gifts I made were small thank yous for the volunteers who aided our traffic action group, Line 30. They helped make the children’s day we organized a huge success. Rende had taken beautiful photos of all the activities and I organized them into a tiny book in InDesign. I printed them and cut them out, then Karin and Els came over to help fold and glue. I can show the process sometime, for now I want to focus on how a simple strip of paper with photos was made into a lovely object to give and receive.

My main tip on making even simple gifts special is to have lots of decorative material at hand. Start collecting stickers, washi tapes, papers, gift tags. I’ll list my sources below. I notice that having all these things within hand’s reach in a plastic basket makes it easy to wrap just about anything in no time at all. Here is a collection of some of the things I always have in my studio.

 

So basically, you can put your little gift into a transparent or translucent envelope, letter the tag,  seal the envelope and attach the tag with a piece of washi tape. I use the stickers for address labels when posting gifts, or occasionally to decorate the envelopes or an enclosed card.

Gift tags  This Etsy shop sells a huge selection of tags at reasonable prices

Glitter stickers   Papaya art is a scrumptious site to browse, I love their stuff.

Washi tape- I buy locally, most craft and hobby stores have it.

Waxed envelopes- office supply shops stock them in different sizes

A future post, Gifting strangers- Spontaneous gift giving on the street, in buses, and public toilets!

Serious bead habit

January 11, 2014

Kristina from decorartuk once again inspired me by her recent post on beading. She’s made some lovely woven bracelets.

classic bead loom

classic bead loom

It must be in the air, or telepathy, but I was thinking of taking out my bead loom again and weaving some new seed bead bracelets.  Beading has long been a hobby of mine, and when it comes to buying new colours I’m a serious addict. A past post shows the harvest from the last bead fair I visited, plus some projects I was working on at the time. I’ll post a few of those pictures again here.

fun at the bead fair

fun at the bead fair

Mostly tending towards blues, purples and aubergines

Mostly tending towards blues, purples and aubergines

Happy beading K, here are some of my past creations, I’ll post my new ones when I start on them.

woven beaded bracelets, worn regularly 2-3 at a time

woven beaded bracelets, worn regularly 2-3 at a time

flock of felt birdies

flock of felt birdies

Crafty corner time! (Goodness, however will I keep up my image as a professional designer and serious painter by showing my small handmades?) Well, not my problem, I don’t see them as separate from my other work.

This group is sold out. I’ve found that selling works for me if it is to my immediate friends and other small local circles, like classes etc.

I wanted to share part of the process of making these little sweeties because it is something that evolved while working on these and might be fun or helpful for others.

During all my hand work projects I always felt bad about the waste of little bits of pure wool felt, silken embroidery threads and snippets of wool and acrylic yarns. I kept as many scraps as possible, but inevitably the tiniest pieces would get thrown away. Well, I just started putting them in a jar because the colours made me feel happy. And when they accumulated, the penny dropped, and whoopee, I discovered I  had ready-made stuffing for my brooches.

Here is my worktable surface, it pleases me how harmonious the colours of the washi tapes, scraps and Papaya mailing stickers are, oh and the crochet work in the background. I tend to stick to these kinds of warm pastels. Far left you can see my scrap collection jar.

tabletop

tabletop

work surface

Here is bluebird in the process of getting his innards.

getting filled

getting filled

And here he is ready to send to Sandy, my dear friend in Canada who will be his new mom.

‘Tweet’ (remember when that used to mean, bird word)!?

Bluebird with fancy toes

Bluebird with fancy toes