Friday, May 19, 2017

Birdhouse Assemblages

 Do you have a local picture framer that you go to, when you want a piece of artwork framed?  Your framer will almost always have scraps of mat board ready to be given away to art teachers.  When they cut mats, they rarely are able to use the odd-sized leftovers.  I recently learned that the framers also often discard their framing samples when an old sample is discontinued.  I asked my framer, and she had a full carton ready to take to the dumpster!  I asked for a few, and she told me if I wanted any of them, I had to take the entire box.  So I did, and my DragonWing Arts students recently used both mat board samples and frame samples to create these adorable birdhouse assemblages! 
 We started by painting a background (we used dollar-store foam core), using small sponges to dab and spread tempera paint as desired. 

Then we  used a colorful air dry clay and some feathers to make these sweet birds.  This is NOT Model Magic; I am not a fan.  I purchased this clay online and it was much moister than Model Magic, really stuck together well, and didn't crack when dry.  The brand: Sago Brothers Magic Clay.  The kids absolutely were smitten with it. 

My students then selected their mat board and frame samples, and began assembling their birdhouses.  The mat board could be decorated with Colorsticks and/or Sharpie markers and metallic markers.  Some kids chose to make two birdhouses, and others only wanted to make one.

Corks were used for perches for the birds, and black circles cut from construction paper became the entrances to the bird house.  I hot glued the birds (when the clay was dry) onto the perches. 

I felt that they still needed a little jazzing up, so I had planned for us to cut out leaves and flowers from felt and/or sheet foam, but with the class ending this week, I knew we wouldn't have time.  So I stopped at the dollar store and bought a big pile of fake flowers, and cut them off their stems.  Those were hot glued on the artwork as desired.  Some kids also chose to add fluffy clouds.   The girl who made the assemblage below is a bit of a minimalist.  She did not want any more flowers beyond her three foam tulips!  I love her bird house.  It says "All Birds Welcome (at the) Birdy Nesters Hotel.  Even toucans". 
 Oh my gosh, I have to admit I was smitten by the felt bee hive made for the assemblage below.  (And the bluebird is adorable too!) The bees are just little knots of striped pipe cleaner pieces.  So fabulous! 
 I love the rainbow birdhouse below.  It's hard to tell, but the bird is a "French bird" wearing a beret.  My young artists have great senses of humor!
 Another minimalist.  No flowers on the piece below!  But I love that perfect robin, and the windows in the red birdhouse.  The right-hand birdhouse is evidently a castle.

I've had a former student, now a 19 year-old attending the local community college, joining me as my "helper" this winter and spring.  She loves working along with the kids, and made this delightful birdhouse with a little owl.  She took some extra frame samples home with her, to invent some sort of crafty project over the summer. 

And here's one last student assemblage.  This was such a fun and easy project, and I would love to repeat it again some day!   Meanwhile, I still have a carton full of frame samples, and welcome your ideas for other ways to use them.  Maybe a big city, perhaps?  Let me know if you have a suggestion!


  1. These are pretty cool. May have to give them a try next year. The M A G I C A L clay is def gonna be on my order for this fall. N i c e job, Phyl's students!

  2. They are lovely. The wil is zo cute. The kids loved it ... i can der it on their faces.