Introduction: Ewok Birdhouse
I love Star Wars and birds. I thought an Ewok birdhouse would be a great combination of both. A couple of years ago I made a similar birdhouse. It had a couple of problems:
1. Ewoks were made of clay and immediately melted during the first rain.
2. No birds moved in. I think this might be due to the huge perch/walkway.
Once I discovered moldable plastic, I set out to redesign the birdhouse and make some Ewoks that will hold up to the weather. Here is how I did it.
(1) 9" x 5" plastic drink container (bought at dollar store), spray painted brown.
1/2" wooden dowels, number varies depending on size of plastic container, spray painted brown. You can buy them by the yard at craft stores.
(1) 12" x 6" x 3/4" piece of wood for the back
(2) circular wood slices, about 9" in diameter, 3/4" thick, one side cut straight.
(1) plastic bowl for roof.
Thermomorph moldable plastic ($21 from Amazon)
Brown Spray paint, acrylic paint, Minwax Polycrylic Clear Matte
Wooden shish kabob skewers or some other wooden dowels for making accessories
Miscellaneous items and tools:
Hinge, 1/2" screws, hook and eye latch.
Drill, Dremel, hot glue gun, Gorilla Super Glue with brush and nozzle, Gorilla Glue, utility knife, sand paper, kitchen scale, clay modeling tools, paintbrush
Step 1: Assemble Materials and Prep Work
Spray paint the wood dowels and plastic container. I used Krylon Leather Brown, indoor/outdoor paint.
Cut a side off each of the wood slices, A handheld circular saw or a table saw would work. I cut the slices from a wood log I had in my yard, you can also buy them.
Step 2: Build Birdhouse Walls
Cut the dowels to 10" lengths. The dowels should be slightly longer than the plastic container that will go inside.
Tie them together using clove hitches with twine on the top and bottom. I needed 35 10" dowels. To tie a clove hitch, make two loops as shown, place the second loop over the first and slip it over the dowel, tighten.
Step 3: Assemble Birdhouse Part 1
Pick one of the wood slices to be the bottom. Spread wood glue around the edge and place the walls on top of it. You may need to support the walls. Let it dry for 24 hours.
Screw the top of the plastic container to the second wood slice. Then screw the container on it. Then glue that to the top of the walls. You should still be able to unscrew the container and take it out. This is to clean out old nests.
Step 4: Assemble Birdhouse Part Two
Attach the back board to the birdhouse with a hinge on the bottom. The board will be mounted to a tree and will allow the house to swing down to be emptied.
Drill a 1" to 1 1/4" hole in the front. The dowels may come loose, this is OK, you can glue them back on. Use a dremel and sandpaper to make the entry nice and smooth. The paint can be touched up later.
Use a utility knife to cut a square hole in the plastic container that is bigger than the circle hole in the wood. This will allow easy entry for the bird.
Drill some drainage holes in the bottom of the plastic container. Be sure to sand the inside where the holes are to remove any sharp edges. Rinse out with water.
Step 5: Create Ewoks Part One
I found the best way to work with the Moldable plastic is to have 3 containers of water:
1. Tea kettle or pot without a cover, keep the water at a simmer - not boiling but very hot. You want to be able to dip pieces in here without burning yourself.
2. Bowl of hot water, pour the boiling water from the kettle into this bowl, keep your unused plastic in here.
3. Bowl of ice water. Used to cool the pieces.
I used an old Logray figure as my model. I also bent a metal L bracket to the same angle as Logray's torso to use as a mold.
Put the polymorph into the bowl of boiling water. It will only take a minute for it to go clear and be ready to mold.
Once it is clear, use a spoon to carefully scoop out some, it will be hot.
Use a kitchen scale to get about a 15 gram glob. Mold it into the shape of a torso. Once you are happy with it, put it into the ice water. It doesn't have to be perfect.
Use about 4 grams of plastic to create a leg. Dip the torso into the simmering water for a second or two to make it sticky and attach the leg.
Do the same with the arms. Don't worry about hands or feet for now. Just get the general shape.
Tip: Do one limb at a time and then put it into the ice water to harden up.
Once you are happy with the shape, you can dip a leg or parts of the body into the simmering water (or use a paint brush to 'paint' simmering water onto the figure) and use your thumb to rub it nice and smooth. You can also dip just the feet into simmering water for 4-5 seconds and press the figure onto the counter or flat surface to make it stand. You can shape feet at this step. You can also add bigger tummy and/or add some plastic to the back if it is too flat. Paint the figure with simmering water, add plastic, rub smooth until it is blended and seamless.
Step 6: Create Ewoks Part Two
For the hands, you can make a lego style hand by dipping the hand stump into the simmering water then pushing a piece of metal rod into it. I found using plastic or wood rods make it stick too much. Metal works best. I used the metal from the clay modeling tools.
Another technique is to create a thin rod of plastic by rolling it in your hands and then cooling it. Then cut lengths of it to make a 3 finger hand. This takes some practice but looks more realistic than the lego hand. Make the hand separate from the body, then when you are happy with the hand, attach it to the figure. If you don't like the hand, you can just toss it into the hot water and start again.
The next step is to add fur to the figure. Paint a portion of the figure with simmering water, such as the back, then use a toothpick or other sharp tool to draw fur, use short strokes. Then smooth it out with your fingers. Do this over the entire figure.
You can also shape feet at this point too. The figure should be able to stand on its own.
Step 7: Create Ewoks - Head and Cowl
To make the face, mold a piece of plastic into a circle about the size of a penny. I used a homemade tool to make the eyes. I drilled a small hole into the end of a wooden kabob skewer. I used that to press two eyes into the face. This will give it little eyeballs. Then put the face in ice water. If you try to add a mouth and nose it will make it all misshapen, so you have to harden it first. Do one facial feature at a time.
To make the mouth, paint it with simmering water and gently use a flat modeling tool to make a slit or a hole.
To make the nose, roll up a tiny ball of plastic or cut a slice off the roll of plastic used to make fingers and use tweezers to carefully place it on the face. Use the simmering water to make it sticky.
After the face is done, add some fur to it by painting it with water and drawing lines leading away from the eyes.
Put it in ice water. Once it is hard, add a ball of plastic to the back of the face to form a round head. Then place it onto the figure. Paint it with simmering water to secure it.
Place the figure in ice water or the freezer for 5 minutes or so.
For the cowl, roll out a thin piece of plastic. Take out the figure and dry it off. When the thin plastic is still soft but not sticky, place it over the head of the figure and mold it on to form a cowl. It shouldn't stick to the figure. This takes some practice to get it right, you don't want it too sticky or it will meld to the figure, but if it is too cool it won't be flexible enough. Practice this technique on some throwaway figures first. If you do it correctly the cowl should be removable from the figure.
To make the ears, use a sharpie to mark where the ears should be. Take the cowl off and drill holes where the marks are. Put the cowl back on the figure and create ears and meld them on. Use small pieces of plastic and shape them into ears.
I found that it was too hard to make the cowl really tight-fitting after the ears are already in place. So do the cowl first and the ears after. Also, it may be easier to make the cowl in pieces - one for the head, one for the shoulders.
If you don't care about being able to remove the cowl, you can make the cowl and then just put the ears on top of it without making holes first. Then the ears will be attached to the cowl.
Step 8: Ewoks With Moveable Arms and Legs
I did a lot of experimentation trying to create articulated joints. The easiest way I found is this:
Create the torso, make the arm and leg parts as flat as possible. Dip them in simmering water and press against a countertop.
Once these are flat, drill a pilot hole into the center of each joint. Then screw 1/2" wood screws with a rounded head into each, leaving it sticking up a 1/8" or so.
Create a leg and press against the screw and shape it. Put it in ice water. Take it out and you should be able to rotate the leg, it might stick at first but it should free and rotate.
You should be able to pop the leg off and on again. It takes some practice to get it right. Do this for all the limbs.
You can also make a wrist this way, just use a smaller screw.
Step 9: Painting and Accessorizing
Paint the figure flat black. Let that dry overnight, then paint it brown or whatever color you want. I left the eye sockets black, then went back later and painted in white eyes. Painting it black first makes the second coat cover it better and provides some depth and shading in the crevices of the fur.
After the painting is done, let that dry at least a day, then apply a coat of finish, I used minwax polycrylic clear matte. They still had some shine to them though.
Make some accessories for them - bags, knives, spears, etc. To make a bag, mold some plastic over a dowel and shape it into a bag. Paint it. Once it hardens, slip it off the dowel, this will leave a hole you can use to thread a piece of leather or string through to use as a belt.
To make a spear, mold a spear head, split a skewer a little on one end, slip the spear head in there. Cover it with super glue and wrap some twine around it.
The Gorilla super glue with brush and nozzle works great for the accessories. It sets fast and is strong and clear.
Step 10: Finishing Touches
To make a roof, take a cheap dollar store plastic bowl, put some hot glue on it, and wrap it with twine. The hot glue holds the twine in place while you wrap it. Then hot glue a dowel to it, drill a hole into the top, fill it with gorilla glue and stick the roof on.
Install the eye and hook latch on one side to keep it together.
Glue the Ewoks on to it. Touch up any paint.
Screw it to a tree and enjoy!
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