Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Bird Sculptures

When I saw the beautiful bird sculptures on That Artist Woman, I thought that they were the most beautiful three-dimensional project I have ever seen for young artists to do. She has a step-by-step tutorial as well, so you might want to look at hers, but here is how we did it.

If you are making a particular type of bird, look at a picture of one while you sculpt so you can get a more realistic shape for the bird.
Take a quarter sheet of newspaper and crush into a pear shape.
Tape into place.  Twist out a little to form a beak shape.

Make sure you look at your bird's beak if you are doing a particular bird, as some birds have longer and some birds have shorter beaks. We made the mistake of not noting this and some of our beaks were too short.

Cut some paper towel into strips about 1/2 an inch wide or so. Pour some white school glue into a recycled container and add water in a 1 to 1 ratio. Mix well. Dip the strips into the glue mixture and start covering your bird. With paper mache you want to overlap your strips for strength and smooth them down as you go.  Use a few dry strips to soak up excess glue.  That way your bird will take less time to dry. You just want it moist not sopping.

Leave to dry in a warm place overnight...turn once to ensure even drying.

Out of thin cardboard from a cereal or cracker box cut out a wing shape. You will want to look at the picture of your bird to get that shape right. Cut out a tail shape as well.

Take the cardboard shapes tape it to your bird at the right angle. Cover  the wings and tail in a coat of paper mache, using overlapping strips where they attach to the bird's body.
While the shapes are moist you can curl your wings if you wish.
Leave to dry.

Paint with acrylic or tempera. Katie taught us a bit about how to mix acrylic colors.
For the feather and eye detail you can either paint it in with a fine paintbrush or use fine sharpies after the paint has dried.


Black-capped Chickadee
Katie, age 19

by Quentin, age 7
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
James, age 10

Now you need legs and feet.
To make the feet take piece of wire about 16 inches long.  The wire needs to be soft enough to bend with your fingers but firm enough to hold the shape without collapsing.

Starting at the middle of the piece of wire, make a foot shape with four toes, three going one direction and the fourth going the opposite direction and then twist the one end of the wire around the other section to form the leg.  Instead of making your own bird feet out of wire, you can use clips instead and use a bit of wire to attach them to the body of the bird. They are less realistic this way, but you then can clip them to things.
Trim them down and bend in the knees. Remember a bird's knee bends backwards.
To color the legs, take the end of some embroidery thread and loosely wrap from the top of the leg down, double back and wrap tightly now. When you reach the top, tie a knot.
Using a knitting needle punch holes for the legs. Put some tacky glue on them.
Push the leg through the glue into the hole, placing the knees are backwards.
Add some more glue if needed. Let dry.
If you want a shiny coat you can add a coat of Mod Podge.


  1. Wow - nice work - I particularly like the hummingbird.

  2. Anonymous2.6.11

    Very nice!
    Almost Unschoolers

  3. WOW! What a nifty project! Great work everyone :)

  4. They turned out great! I love the picture of Quentin (?) studying his bird picture while making wings.

  5. These are great! I remember making a quail like this in high school. Very fun.

  6. Those are just lovely! Some of my favorite birds, too :o)

  7. i love these! i made one during the winter, to see how difficult it would be for my girls; ani found it and painted it quite loverly-like - a goldfinch, i think. we are definitely needing to do this...thanks for the photos and the reminder.


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