Bitumen Roof Top Crow




Introduction: Bitumen Roof Top Crow

About: Former technics and arts and crafts teacher at a school for mentally disabled young adults.

For some time I searched for a simple material to make garden sculptures that are resistant for all weather conditions, without having to buy special tools like welding gear or a ceramics oven.

When the roof was covered with a new layer of bitumen some parts were not used. Roof top covering should be weather resistant, does it not? This is my experiment to make a weather resistant sculpture with the left over bitumen. It is all made by melting parts together with a heat gun.


You will need:

APP modified ( 3 mm thick) Bitumen, I used approx. 35 cm x 100 cm.

Electrical heat gun, preferably with two heat modes

A Stanley knife

Some 3mm iron wire. approx 90 cm and pliers to cut and bend

A tiny bit of thin wire ( or string, or trash bag tie))

A pair of old gloves, or official heat resisting ones

Some stick or metal tool to push things down

A flexible palette knife

Step 1: Armature

With a stanley knife cut strips of the bitumen, 3 cm wide and 35 cm long. 14 pieces will do.

Cut a piece of wire of 90 cm. Bend it in half and measure 32 cm from the bend. At that point split the two end and make the shape of a T. Secure the double part together with a thin piece of wire ( or string, or trash bag tie).

Step 2: The Body

Note: The heat gun is used at full heat and always both parts are heated before connecting. The heat gun is only used at half heat for the feet and to finish off the skin of the sculpture in steps 13 and 14.

Melt two stips of bitumen on top of each other with the wire "T" inbetween.The short ends of the wire protruding approx 12 cm from the end. The double part of the wire is protruding at the other end. Bend the two ends of the wire downward. Melt two new strips of bitumen in a "V" shape on the short end of the double strip. Bend them in a boat shape and melt them down on the other end.

Create a ring from one bitumen strip (35 cm). Melt the ring into the body approx one third from the front of the body. Don't try to melt all three connections in one go. Do one after the other.

Step 3: Wings

Melt three strips of bitumen together. The longest is 17 cm, the shortest 15 cm. On top of the longest strip place a "V"shape made of two 13,5 cm strips. These represent the longest quills of the wings. The front of the wings is made in the next step. Mind to make the second wing in mirror image.

Step 4: Shoulders

Cut a ( almost) square of 14 x13 cm. Follow the design in the PDF and the steps in the photo's above. Melt the jagged edge to the quills. Melt the last cut with overlap on itself to make the wing convex.

Step 5: Tail

Five strips of bitumen ( 14,5 cm) form a fan shape. It is necessary to remove some corners of the outer strips. Look at the first photo.The tail can be melted to the rear of the body.

Step 6: Connect Wings to the Body

Heat one side of the ring in the body, and the inside of the corresponding wing, and press firmly together. Do the same with the other side. You might need a stick or metal tool to support on the inside whilst pressing together. The wings should touch each other, or fit with a slight overlap.

Step 7: Head

The head is made out of a rectangle of 8 x 11 cm. One long cut to the middle to the rear, and two minor cuts on the front side. Melt the two parts with total overlap. On the front side turn the small corner parts inward an melt them inside the middle part.

Bend the wire down at the top of the body, and after 3 cm in the direction where the beak shoul be. It is a good idea to point the beak slightly to one side, to give the bird more movement.

Hold a small piece of bitumen under the 3 cm part of the wire and heat it. Heat the inside of the head ( the forehead) and press it onto the newly added small piece.

Step 8: Beak

Cut out three triangles, 3 cm wide, 9 cm long. Heat them all at the same time. Place the together in pyramid shape and press all edges. See if the wire needs cutting to fit the beak on. If so shorten. Heat the rim of the beak, place it over the wire and press it against the ( also heated) front of the head.

Step 9: Breast

This is sort of a collar which forms the lower part of the head and breast. Note that it is not symmetrical because my bird turns his head and beak to one side. I will ad a PDF for the shape, but may be it is wise to print it, cut it out and try it. If your head is turned more, or less it won't fit and you will have to adjust the shape.I tried to melt it to the body in one go, but I had to reattach most tabs one by one.

Step 10: Mask

I thought it would be nice to give a hint of the eyes, so I made two eyebrows and melted them on the head. On second thoughts I would skip this step. Now I think the blank head would have fitted better to the abstracted body.

Step 11: Nose

The connection of the beak to the head did not look good. To make a smoother transition between the two parts I added a nose piece. A small strip of bitumen 3 cm wide in the middle and 6 cm long.

Step 12: Legs

The legs are formed with triangles folded around the wire. The shape of these can be found on the PDF in step 4.

Step 13: Feet

Cut small 1 cm strips of bitumen. For the toes melt two strip together whilst bending them. Set the heat gun on half power, otherwise the strips will totally melt. Bend the wire on the legs backward and cut of, leaving 2,5 cm. Melt two toes together in a "V" shape. melt them on the outside of the leg whilst melting the third one on the inside. melt a triangle under the toes for extra strength.

Step 14: Skin

The Bird is finished, but one action is needed to make the surface uniform over the sculpture and visually disguise the separate parts so it becomes one total sculpture.

Do this by setting the heat gun to half heat, and heat the surface bit by bit. When it is shining hot and a bit fluid stroke it with the palette knife. The edges of the parts will soften, and the palette knife will leave an almost metal welded, all over texture.

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    1 year ago

    Ruud, this came out wonderfully. Thank you for sharing your project. I would never have thought to use roofing to make outdoor sculpture. I also like the rough end product before your instructions on how to smooth it out. Thank you also for the patterns in PDF format. I am thinking a large bird such as a crane or stork or even a pelican would be fun to do. For the crane I would use rebar for the legs or similar. LOL I threw out a few roofing shingles that I had no use for, I will have to find some or buy a few sheets now lol.

    Ruud van Koningsbrugge
    Ruud van Koningsbrugge

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hey Leslie, Nice to hear my work inspires you. A little warning though. I used thick 3 mm roofing. Shingles are mostly 1 mm. That is not strong enough to stay in 3D shape. I only could make flat wallbirds with the thinner quality. See the Magpie below. More inspiration on my website Wish you lots of succes with your plans.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Hi Ruud, I just looked at your sites, here and the link you kindly gave to me. ABSOLUTELY beautiful sculptures out of material that is totally transformed. Your animals out of cardboard and the mechanical one are gorgeous. I was laughing at what you did with plain old gloves :) Thank you so much for sharing your brain or a little of it with us!!!


    Reply 1 year ago

    That one is lovely also. I read that in your instructions about the thickness. Thank you for giving me the additional info. Would be interesting to experiment. My brain works overtime when there is something to solve and I was wondering if instead of a wire armature a chicken wire or similar can be shaped into the form you want and then lay and heat the shingles over it INCLUDING the thinner type. Could also heat up the chicken wire so that it melts into the shingle. Just thinking lol. Again thank you for the additional info.