Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Feathered Friends -- Bird Themed Projects

With the shining sun and the cool spring air comes the joyous song of birds on the wing.

I've had the opportunity to teach bird-themed projects in two different venues and soon to be three with an upcoming May workshop held as part of a public school fine arts day event.

The first project is a paper arts project that was part of a mini-course I taught last summer at art camp. The mini-course wasn't just for the birds. It was actually a course on making lots of things from folded papers, but the birds were probably my favorite thing to make. The pattern for this project came from a book titled "The Magic Of Paper Sculpture" written by David Swinton. The book also gives step-by-step directions for forming the birds.

Here is an example that I made:

And here is one made by a student:

Most of the students in the mini-course were between 12 and 14 years old, so I would say the folded paper birds project is best suited for middle school students.

The other bird project I will talk about is one that I mentioned previously. It was done with kindergarten and first grade students at my church where I teach religious-themed art lessons that tie in with the weekly gospels. The birds the students made were sitting in "God's hands", but the ones I am posting now are just really cute birds made from model magic and feathers. I did not glue wiggle eyes onto my examples -- I actually like them better without the silly eyes, although the students would disagree.

Here are a few sample birds:
Depending on what colors of model magic you have on hand, this lesson can be used to teach complimentary, warm and cool, contrasting, primary or secondary colors. The birds are formed from a about 2 1/2 oz. of model magic each which students roll into balls. Then the head is "pinched" out and the base of the tail is "pulled" out. The beak and feet are added from small pieces of model magic that are actually cut to shape with scissors. Finally, the craft feathers are poked into the clay (the feathers can also teach color theory depending on what kind you have) to form wings and tails.

An extension of the above is to create a home for the bird. This is what I am planning to teach to kindergarten students in May. The house is made from poster board that is cut to 6 x 22", pre-folded and pre-punched with a hanging hole. The board is unfolded and texture painted with sponges. I used white and black tempera on colored poster board.

The painted poster board is set aside to dry while the birds are formed. When the birds are done the paint should be dry and the houses can be re-folded on the lines and stapled together to form a triangular house. A string can be looped through the hole at the top for carrying or hanging.

Bird in a triangular house.

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