One day I was walking down the main street near my house and passed a pottery store. For some reason inside this pottery store there was this collection of beautifully carved birds with magnets in them, and attached to the magnets were paperclips, looking like little tail feathers. I thought that this was a great idea, but they were rather expensive, and large. I wanted something smaller - more desk sized, as I only have a very small desk in my little room. So I took the inspiration from the pottery store window and decided to break out the air dry clay and craft magnets to make my own version! This is a very easy project that can be completed in a few hours, and the result is a very unique desk ornament which everyone is sure to love!
Step 1: Gather Materials
The materials are pretty simple for this project, you don't need much. I had all of this already on my craft shelf, and you probably do to, but if not you can get it all from the dollar store for a few dollars.
For this project you will need:
- a block of air dry clay
- acrylic paint (colour of your choice, something a bird would be, or not!)
- a bamboo barbeque skewer
- craft magnets
Step 2: Sculpt
To start, you are going to need to sculpt the bird from the air dry clay. I did this first by splitting my block of clay into four. I found that I could make four birds with my block, but yours may be different, depending on the size of your block of clay.
Next, I split the four pieces each into three balls, one large for the body, one medium for the head, and one small for the feet. I then put these balls together to form the bird, as shown in the images above.
Then, I used my thumb to mush the pieces together and make them look more fluid, rather than looking like three separate pieces.
Finally, I brushed them all down with a paintbrush and some water, which dissolves the outer layer of the clay, and fills in the gaps and cracks, making the outside more smooth.
After the birds were sculpted, I pushed a magnet into the back end of them, and then removed it, so that I would have a perfectly shaped hole to glue it into later. I also pushed a piece of a bamboo skewer into the head of the bird as a beak, and used the butt of my paintbrush to poke two holes, one on either side of the head of the bird for eyes.
Once this was all complete, I set all my birds aside to dry!
Step 3: To Paint or Not to Paint
Once your clay birds are dry, it is time to paint them! Or not. I used a regular craft paint, which turned out quite nicely. I didn't use any primer, or fancy painting techniques, it was quite easy. I just brushed the paint on. However, once I was done painting, I wasn't quite sure if I had made the correct choice. Looking back on these pictures, I think it may have been better had I just left it the way it was, unpainted. Maybe the plain clay look would have been nicer. So whether or not you paint is up to you! You can decide which colours look best to you, and go from there. I think it mostly depends on how nice the clay you used looks unpainted, and how many cracks get left behind in the clay when it drys, because that was definitely one benefit of painting the clay, is the paint covered all of the inconsistencies in the surface of the dry clay. Whatever you choose to do, I'm sure it will turn out great!
Step 4: Glue
After the paint is all dry, it is time to glue.
Glue what? You may ask. Well, most things. I found that the beaks I had pushed into the birds while the clay was soft had become a little lose, so I glued them in more securely. As well, I glued the magnet into the previously formed hole in the back of the bird. This step is pretty simple, I just used hot glue! But any regular glue will work, or fancy glue if that's your thing.
Step 5: Stick Some Paper Clips on and Enjoy!
Now that your bird is complete, all that is left to do is to stick some tail feathers on! I went with some simple metal paperclips, because they were what I had, however I think that maybe some colour coordinated colourful paperclips may look even better! You could even try safety pins or sewing needles.
This project is fairly easy, and definitely very rewarding. These little birds make awesome gifts, and are also great for keeping on your desk and making you smile. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask, and if you make one, please share it in the comments down below!
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