I wanted to make some clay birds with the kids. I had envisioned a tree branch with some realistic looking birds by the front door for a nice November display. It was only after we started painting them that I realized how nice these would look on the Christmas tree. So we plan on making quite a few of them in the days to come.
Here's the how to:
air dry clay ( I get mine from Michael's, it costs about $10.00 a package but don't let that put you off, this single block will probably make 24 birds and if you use your 40% off coupon it is very economical )
wire or pipe cleaners
a knitting needle, skewer or nail
reference book if required
paint and sealer
Take a piece of foil, about 12"x12" and crumple into a ball.
Crumple up as many foil balls as you want birds. We are using the foil to form the inside of our bird. This makes our birds more lightweight, they dry or cure faster, and it makes your clay go further.
Take a lump of clay about half the size of your palm and knead it a bit. You'll find the air dry clay a bit hard at first but it gets softer as you manipulate it.
We are working on wax paper.
Flatten your clay out like a pancake. Place your foil ball inside and form the clay around it.
Have some water sitting by and wet your fingers. Use the water to help seal the clay together.
Once your foil ball is covered start to pull the clay out from the ball shape to form the bird's head and tail.
You want to keep a rounded belly on your bird. If you find the foil is starting to show thru you have pulled too much clay away from your center. Try to re shape or add a bit more clay to your bird. Again use some water to help blend it together.
When you have formed your head and tail take a toothpick to define your eyes. We just made an indentation where the eye would be forming the brow. You will be painting in your eye so you don't need to make a hole to represent the eye.
We also used the toothpick to define where the wings are.
I like having the birds perched in the tree. If you want your birds to sit in your tree turn your bird over and use a knitting needle or nail to make two holes where the feet would be.
If you want to hang your birds like an ornament make a hole in the back of the bird.
Now you need to let your air dry clay dry or cure. It will take about 48 hrs. Be sure to turn your birds every 12 hrs. or so. You want all sides to get exposed to the air. You will be able to tell your bird is curing as it will get warmer as it dries. If its ice cold it still needs to dry a bit. It should be just a little cooler than room temp.
Now you can paint. Use a reference book if you like. We used acrylic craft paint. The clay accepts the paint really well. You can be as detailed or simple as you like. For the Christmas ornaments we use a little glitter for some sparkle.
Seal with a good sealer. I prefer dura clear.
Let dry. I stuck mine on a skewer to dry.
When your birds are dry you need to add your wire. For perching birds put a little tacky glue in the holes and insert wire or pipe cleaners. You need each wire to be about 2 inches or so.
For hanging birds form a little loop with your wire or pipe cleaner. Put some glue in the hole and insert the end of the loop. Let dry. Use ribbon or fishing line and thread a length thru the loop.
Place in your tree and enjoy.
See you next time.