Sunday, September 04, 2011

I Was Going To Call This "For The Birds" But That Would Be Stupid

Another thing I've done for public consumption, and of course agonized excessively about, is this birdhouse I did for the Lexington Arboretum yearly birdhouse display and auction. I'd wanted to do it last year, but couldn't come up with an idea in time. That sort of worked out well because it gave me a whole extra year to think of something.

I don't remember when it hit me, but it suddenly occurred to me to do something with an embroidered or cross-stitch design (since I think about embroidery a lot anyway). Then all I had to do was think of how to implement it. I considered using or making a traditional house-shaped birdhouse and drilling holes in it, and good Lord am I glad I didn't, because the one(s) I finally did build out of polymer clay were quite enough of a pain. (Note to self: maybe do a small mock-up first next time. Also you probably won't go wrong scaling up your design.) 

A seemingly good idea that turned out not to be was using colored wire for the stitching. I wanted to use it for durability's sake, but it got too kinked and bent and broken (o, the story of my life, especially the men in it), so I just used plain old DMC embroidery floss and a needle and coated it with matte acrylic varnish when I had the whole thing done and baked. One lucky idea that panned out was using a large ceramic flower pot for the base, which was exactly the size and shape I had in mind.

The whole thing turned out OK, though I wish I knew how to get my polymer clay smoother when I'm joining seams in it. I don't know if it's a matter of practice or if there's a magical trick to it. I hope the latter, but I doubt it. Naturally I had my usual bout of panicky self-doubt while I was driving over to the arboretum to drop the birdhouse off, thinking, "Oh my God this is crap, I should just set it on fire except the fumes would probably kill me, and anyway I paid $10 for the entry fee so maybe I'll just set it on the doorstep and ring the bell and run away like I'm dropping off an abandoned baby." Which would have looked really stupid since the visitor's center is primarily made of glass and the dozen or so people inside would see me doing that and maybe call the cops because they thought I was dropping off a bomb or a bag of anthrax or something.

So I didn't do that, I took it inside, nervously, and the lady there was very nice and said, "Ooh, that's so pretty!" and "Did you cross-stitch that by hand?". (In my head, "No.") And I saw the other birdhouses, though not closely, since they were all shoved together on tables prior to display. They were very nice, but they weren't all a million times better than mine as I had feared, and of course nobody's stuff ever looks like mine, (why am I still always surprised?) so I left feeling pretty cool. Now I can get on with worrying that the roof and base are going to come apart, or birds will hate it and peck out all the stitching, or the arboretum staff will hate it and set it on fire, or it will just spontaneously combust, which would be kind of awesome.

In other news, I've gotten a lot of "favorites" on Etsy for my Carolina wren wall hanging  that I showed in my last post, which is of course nice, though I would gladly send it off to a new home in exchange for a little cash. But a very cool thing is that a couple of other Etsy sellers whose embroidery work I've admired for a while now favorited it also. That makes me happy.


Rob Bokkon said...

The arboretum staff set it on fire, with the birds in it, so you'd feel especially bad. :p

I didn't realize you had the skill for birdhousecraftery, or whate'er. Nicely done!

Bridgit said...

They had a silent auction today & mine went for $45, $15 dollars more than the one signed by Joker Phillips and $20 - 25 more than most of the other ones. Not bad.