The flock

Just a quick note to say thank you to everyone who came along to the ‘Birds with Bling’ workshop last Sunday at Fig Tree Community Garden. We had a lovely day making bird shaped bird scarers, they’re unlikely to actually scare any birds, but they sure look cute! Thanks also to Jo from Fig Tree and Christina from Octapod for organising the workshop, and Newcastle artist Trevor Horsnell for co-facilitating it.

The flock on the compost heap

Making these bird scarers is quite a sweet school holiday project, so here’s a cheat sheet if you’re feeling like doing the bird.

You’ll need some weathertex sheeting, a jigsaw with a sharp blade, some hard wood garden stakes, paint brushes, sandpaper, filler (optional), water based primer/sealer, cardboard, paper, pencil, scissors, wood glue, drill bits and countersinking drill bit and a screw driver. For the paint, water based enamel works best and a good coat of vanish is advisable if they’re going to be living in your garden.

Rae of sunshine with one of the workshop's few double decker birds

Draw a bird shape on your sheet of cardboard. Keep it simple because you’re going to be cutting out this shape with a jigsaw and weathertex is dense material. (A good rule of thumb is that if the shape is hard to cut out with a pair of scissors, it’s going to be impossible to cut out with a jigsaw. You can use a scroll saw of course, but as ever the KISS principle applies). Prop the piece of cardboard up somewhere while you have a cup of tea and consider the shape. Then flip it over and have a look at the shape from the other side. Remember, don’t make it too large because weathertex is heavy and the bird is going to have to balance on top of a garden stake. If you’re still happy with the shape after a cuppa, trace it onto the weathertex sheet with a pencil.

(If you don’t have weathertex, you can use mdf or ply, but it’s less weather resistant and more likely to warp, so you’ll need to be even more particular about your priming and varnishing coats).

More birds ready to take flight

Cut the shape out with your jigsaw, give it a quick sand, then screw and glue it onto the hardwood stake. I was screwing through the stake into the back of the bird, but Trevor discovered it’s stronger to screw through the front of the bird into the stake. If you’re fussy about screw holes, countersink the holes and use filler. Apply two or three decent coats of primer on both sides. (It helps if you attach the stake first as this means you can paint both sides at once and stick it in the ground to let it dry).

If you’re a fly by the seat of your pants type, pick up your colourful enamel paints and start painting. If you prefer a more methodical approach, trace the bird onto a sheet of paper, and try out a few designs with pencil first (incidentally, this is a nice way of introducing kids to ideas about the design process). When it’s completely dry, apply a couple of coats of varnish. Enjoy!

The birds look good in groups of three: one plain colour, one patterned (stripes or spots are good), one with imagery (try painting something that you wouldn’t normally associate with a bird). And they’re also kind of cute as cut out shapes on a kid’s bedroom wall, particularly against a feature wall. Just drill a hole and hang up on a piece of ribbon.