I’ve always enjoyed birds. I enjoy watching them fly overhead and hearing their songs in the morning. When I was a kid, many of my drawings and doodles had birds in them. Maybe I was a bird in a previous life. Maybe I raised birds in another life.
It was probably inevitable, then, that birds would make their way into my work.
A few weeks back I was looking for a way to get the creative juices flowing again. After I delivered my last wholesale order in April, I took a long break from creative, art based activities. I can’t remember most of what it was that consumed my time (which tells me something…guess it wasn’t terribly important) but I was getting scared that I wouldn’t make art again. It felt like I was going through a drought. The other scary thought I had was that maybe I didn’t really miss making art. Maybe I’m really meant to do something else and this art making was just an interlude.
Not being entirely happy with that thought, I put my butt in the chair and started sketching. And out of these sketches came birds. I sketched silly looking birds, printed out pictures of birds, and then started making small bird sculptures and experimenting with various surface designs. It felt good to make art and do something different.
Here is what I’ve created so far:
Polymer Clay Bird
My first attempt was a polymer clay bird; polymer clay armature and polymer clay surface design. In my sketches and in my head, I envisioned making wacky looking birds with crazy hair and pointy beaks.
This was a start. The little head decoration is map pins. I wasn’t completely satisfied with this one. What I saw in my head and what came from my hands didn’t quite match.
Mixed Media Birds
The polymer clay bird wasn’t bad, but it didn’t quite click with me. After flipping through some art books for inspiration, I decided to try a mixed media technique on polymer clay:
Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. This guy is a bit more contemporary than the bright polymer clay bird. I was also experimenting with wire legs on both birds and having a dickens of a time. Either one leg was longer than the other (then I’d snip off some wire, now the leg was too short) or the feet were too big. Balance was also an issue. Birds were tipping too far forward or sitting on their rumps.
So I decided to eliminate the wire legs until I could get the shape and design down.
And then I came up with this:
Now I’m starting to giggle. From what recesses of my imagination did this guy come from?
And then I decided to try another surface design:
I think this little guy is my favorite thus far. He looks like porcelain.
When I shared these guys with my art guild, the response was great. Lots of giggles and comments on the faces. Someone said “I don’t know where this idea came from, but they’re you. You started with faces and heads of people and now you’re putting them on birds.”
I guess that makes these anthropomorphic birds. Makes sense to me. I’ve always liked to think that animals have human characteristics.
I plan to make a some more of these little guys using the mixed media techniques on polymer clay and see where that leads me. I’ve decided not to give them feet because it was causing me too much frustration. It is better to let the piece tell me what it wants than for me to force something upon it.
I also envision making some larger birds with sculpted faces. I need to sketch out those ideas before they fly out of my head.
Thanks to this new found creative avenue I’m going to the birds.