June 2021

Bird Arts and Crafts

The web abounds with excellent photographs of birds, and many readers of this article take their own photos, as does this author. Many draw or paint as well. But there are other modes of artistic expression, beyond the photo and the graphic, and some of these alternative media are explored here, with links for free or inexpensive patterns and inspiration.

In each art or example below, the attempt is to create recognizable representations of either species or at least families of birds, accurate enough so that a scientific name could be applied to them, rather than generic or cartoon-like "birds". Each project thus can become a learning or even teaching experience, as well as a satisfying form of self-expression. Most require a degree of proficiency and dexterity with access to specialized supplies; fortunately, some are suitable for beginners with materials likely at hand.

Most folks have a sheet or two of scrap paper laying about, which can be readily trimmed into a square. And many are likely familiar with the traditional origami paper crane. But skilled practitioners have also developed directions for folding[1] an extensive list of recognizable species from American Woodcock to White Ibis, collected by the Origami Research Center. As a corvido-phile, your reviewer enjoyed folding the Common Raven[2] (YouTube tutorial).

While we might similarly have a few spare Lego bricks around, creating an accurate representation of a Blue Jay or European Robin requires an extensive collection in suitable colors. But for anyone who could have the pieces available, the indefatigable Lego organization have provided brick-by-brick directions[3] (PDF file), in eight languages! They've even included a flower for their rendition of a Mexican Violetear hummingbird.

For those others to whom Lego brick birds seem like child's play, and who are experimenting with 3d printing, their fellow techies at CGTrader have provided free source files for 3d bird models[4]. The Peregrine falcon from this archive appears exceptionally life-like, but at a reduced scale, of course.

Having a knitter in the family, the Favorite for this month is definitely the "Knit For Victory" designs of Nicky Fijalkowska[5] from the UK. While her Atlantic Puffin and Blue-footed Booby are seriously cute, it was the Shetland Curlew that was the clincher. She sells her patterns at a modest price through Ravelry[6], but her Knitted Birds book[7] with 30 designs was sold out on Etsy at the time of this writing.

There are, of course, many more avenues of creative expression for bird fans, limited only by our imaginations and dexterity. But, as in the examples above, accurate patterns can be very useful. A remarkable resource for recognizable bird silhouettes applicable to many projects is the free collection of 35 scalable, printable images from SunCatcherStudio[8]. The possibilities are endless.

A late entry to the universe of bird-inspired arts is the just-released Sonic Feather[9] (Vimeo tutorial) adjunct to the Dawn Chorus Project described in the May 2021 review. Unique in both concept and execution, it allows painting with sound using recordings from the Project. As a potentially expanded stand-alone app, with added full-screen rendering and the ability to save its creations on a user's device, it could easily become a Favorite!

The Bird Wide Web™ will be publishing a new article each month.

Recent Articles: