Build a Little Birdhouse for Your Soul: Make a Mixed-Media Birdhouse Pendant

4 Jan 2013

While visiting family over the holidays, I noticed how many of them have birdhouses in their yards. My dad and his two pups get up every morning and put enough dried corn and birdseed in the big backyard birdhouse to feed all the birds in his neighborhood. Like most miniature versions of big things, many birdhouses are just cute little cottages that make me smile. They also remind me of a song by They Might Be Giants that I liked during college; most of the song's lyrics didn't mean much to me, but I still sing the peppy chorus sometimes:

Not to put too fine a point on it,
Say I'm the only bee in your bonnet,
Make a little birdhouse in your soul.

Bees, sunbonnets, birdhouses... It all makes me long for spring, and it's just the beginning of January! Until then, I found this cute little mixed-media birdhouse pendant project by Heather Alexander to tide me over. (First published in Handcrafted Jewelry 2011)

 
Chirpy Birdhouse Pendant
by Heather Alexander

Make your own funky little birdhouse pendant by decoupaging a tiny handmade house with your own paper memorabilia.

Materials:

3/4" thick piece of wood (maple)
1 silver 1/2" eye screw
1 vintage postage stamp
assorted paper ephemera, 1" square or larger
rubber stamp(s) and ink
decoupage medium
spray sealer
black permanent marker or paint
glue
table saw or jigsaw
awl
drill with 1/16" and 1/4" drill bits
1/4" round hole punch
scissors
100-grit sandpaper or sanding block
pliers
paint brush

Tip: Try making these birdhouses using dice as the body of the house. Drill the door hole on the number one (1) side; no awl necessary as there's already a perfectly centered guide!

Steps:

 

1. Cut the wood parts (or see Resources below to buy precut pieces and skip to Step 4). To cut the house body, set the table saw guide to cut a 1/2" strip, remembering to allow a little extra space to account for the 1/8" that the blade takes off during cutting. Following all necessary safety precautions, turn on the saw and cut the strip. Keeping the same setting on the saw, cut a 1/2" piece from the 1/2 × 3/4" strip.

2. Cut the roof: Set the table saw guide at a 45-degree angle. Using the remaining wood strip from Step 1, cut one end (1/2" side) at a 45-degree angle. Turn the strip over and cut the same end again, forming a triangle.

3. Sand the wood parts: Use the sandpaper to smooth any rough or sharp corners and edges.

4. Make a hole for the bail: Use the awl to make an indentation in the center of the peak of the roof. With one hand, grip the roof with a pair of pliers. With your other hand, grip the drill fitted with the 1/16" bit. Drill into the indentation. It's okay to drill all the way through the roof. Use the sandpaper to sand the edges and underside of the roof until smooth. You'll add the eye screw later.

5. Make a hole for the door: Use the awl to make an indentation in the center of one of the short faces of the house body. Use the drill with the 1/4" bit to drill a hole over the indentation that is about 1/8" deep. Use the black marker to darken the hole.

6. Decorate the house: Choose a stamp, photo, or other paper ephemera for the front of your house, making sure the paper ephemera is larger than the surface. Use the hole punch to punch a hole in the center of the paper to accommodate the door. Use the paint brush to apply a thin layer of decoupage medium over the front of the house. Put the paper on top of the layer of decoupage medium, making sure to line up the holes. Use the paint brush to apply another layer of decoupage medium over the paper. Let dry. When dry, use scissors to trim the paper edges as close to the wood edges as possible.

7. Decoupage the sides of the house: Repeat Step 6 three times for the sides and back of the house, omitting the hole-punching.

8. Decoupage the roof pitch: Fold the vintage postage stamp in half. Use the paint brush to apply a thin layer of decoupage medium to the top of the roof. Place the stamp on top of the roof, then apply another layer of decoupage medium over the stamp. Let dry.

9. Stamp the remaining surfaces: Ink up your rubber stamp, then press one roof end onto the stamp; repeat for the other roof end using a different stamp. Repeat again for the bottom of the house.

10. Attach the roof to the house body: Use glue to attach the roof to the top of the house. Press together firmly, making sure the roof is perfectly centered on the house. Check it again a few minutes later to make sure it hasn't shifted. Let dry. Use spray sealer to coat the entire house. Let dry.

11. Attach the bail: Use your finger to locate the hole created in Step 4 for the bail. Screw the eye screw securely into the hole, using pliers if necessary for better grip. String the pendant onto a ball chain or other finished necklace to wear.

I'm excited by all the mixed-media jewelry possibilities in this project. I love paper, so I always welcome the opportunity for paper jewelry making, as well as the chance to add texture and color in a variety of ways: with paint, inks, rubber stamps, stickers, etc. These little birdhouses are so cute, I imagine making half a dozen or so for a fun charm bracelet, maybe with the addition of a little bell and a few bird charms.

For more fun mixed-media jewelry projects to feed your soul, take advantage of a great deal on the 2012 Handcrafted Jewelry digital issue from Zinio!

About the designer:
Heather Alexander is a self-taught artist and stay-at-home mom living in Olympia, Washington. Her twins have flown the coop, but remaining are one husband, one teenager, a cranky cat, and five hens. Being home has inspired Heather to find ways to create using inexpensive and recycled resources. She loves to peruse thrift shops and antiques stores for her next inspiration!

Resources:
wood birdhouse pieces and kits (and finished pendants): Art by Heather www.artbyheather.etsy.com


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