Friday, February 25, 2011

Bird Houses and 150 readers!

Wow I hit and passed 150 followers at some point in the last few days! I can't really wrap my mind around it so all I can say is thanks for reading:) I wish I had a stockpile of cool books to share in a celebration drawing like Phyl did . However, I don't. Instead maybe I need to put one of the onesie I make into a drawing...seems like lots of people have little ones.....let me know if anyone would be interested.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I showed photo's from my clay class (the clay heads) and I have another fun project to share today. Clay birdhouses. But first a memorial....
Alas poor kiln, I knew him well. The "district" has decide my kiln is beyond repair and even if I came up with the money to buy a new one they will not install it because the ventilation in the room that held the old kiln is no longer up to code.

Since I can't afford enough air dry clay to do this lesson I really hope someone else can use it because it is so simple, fun and cute cute cute!

My sample is about a foot and half tall and made around a section of tube that I think came from a carpet store. The teacher suggested making smaller scale bird houses using coffee cans or Pringles cans. I think using Pringles cans, and the basic technique in this project, that you could make amazing individual totem poles.

So we started with slabs of clay that were about 2ft by 2ft (remember you could make these smaller)

Our teacher had rubber texture mats that we pushed into the clay with hand rollers. The most popular textures were wood and stone. I choose wood. The mat was about 10 inches tall and 14 or 16 inches wide. This is the size slab we cut to make the birdhouse.

I cut out the textured part of the slab and made the photo really dark so you can see the texture if you click to enlarge the photo
you can also see the cardboard tube we will use to make the birdhouse, a hand roller and a tool for scoring.

**** I forgot to photograph an important step here. You need to wrap the tube in a sheet of newspaper and tuck the ends into the tube. You MUST do this step. You can see the end result in the next photo*****

Here I am wrapping the slab of clay around the newspaper wrapped tube.

And now I've scratched the edges that I want to join and have brushed some water on. I'm sealing the edges of the clay with a hand roller.

Ok now I have placed the tube upright and cut a circle of clay by cutting around a yogurt container lid that is a little wider than the base of the tube. Then I put the tube on top of the circle and do a little slip and score and seal the circle edges up onto the clay tube.

Remember when I said you need to wrap the cardboard tube with newspaper. Now you will see why. Un-stuff the top edge of the newspaper from the cardboard tube and lift the cardboard tube out. If you need to do this project over two classes stop now. Put the tube in a large ziplock bag. Even if you keep the clay nice and moist it is going to start to shrink so you need that cardboard tube out so it doesn't crack. If we are going to keep working on the lesson go ahead and take the newspaper out of the clay also.
the house of our birdhouse

Now for the roof. Cut a 8" circle and lightly draw on it to divided into fourths. Cut out one fourth of the circle. This is going to make the lid for the birdhouse. Slip, score and join to make a cone.

I smoothed the joint and pressed texture into the roof to make it look nice. Then I cut a hole in the house part for the bird (not on the joint) and popped the lid on to see how it looked.

and I decorated it with a tree branch and apple or cherry blossoms. If I wanted to hang my birdhouse from a tree I would need to make two holes in the bottom and two holes in the lid and add wire to hang after it had been fired and glazed.
Yippie yet sigh. I really like mine and wish I could fire and glaze it.

Only a few ladies showed up to class this month so I have less examples but here is three more


  1. The birdhouses are gorgeous. So sorry about your kiln. But I don't have one at all, and air dry clay has major limitations. So remember there's always easy papier-mache to give kids the 3-d experiences they need.

  2. Oh and congrats on the 150! I don't have a baby (unless you count the 22-year old) but I'm sure others may like a onesie!

  3. Congrats on 150 readers, keep the great posts coming and they will follow :)

  4. Being new to pottery and beggining with handbuilding techniques I LOVE this idea! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Lovely, will be doing with our 6th graders shortly!