Daily Archives: March 3, 2011

Ceramic birdhouse based on unique design

Model for mine

What a thrill it was to see and hear baby chickadees for the first time last spring! I became hooked, but this year I want a birdhouse for larger birds, too. After seeing a sweet abode in my Birds and Blooms magazine, I decided to make a similar one. It’s cone-shaped. Paul Anthony’s birdhouse was originally featured in this blog post. The birdhouse is made of two separate parts and there is a nesting platform in the bottom of the lower half. I had found a styrofoam cone in a hobby store, but it cost $25, so I decided to make my own ceramic mold. Previously, I’d made a paper pattern for the lower cone and had cut clay slabs that are 1/6 inch thick. They’d firmed up over a week and were ready to go. Last Tuesday, I took materials for making a mold to the studio and fashioned a cone of stiff paper, having used the same pattern. Filled it with crumpled newspapers, reinforced the inside with skewers, then covered the paper cone with plastic film. I really needed a coffee break after that! My brain had also been complaining because I felt like I had measured something wrong. There are so many lovely mugs people have thrown, it was a joy to take a break and sip from one. My next task would be to fit two clay cone halves together to make the lower cone. Judging from the photo, it looks like Anthony used one slab for the bottom cone. My brilliant plan was to piece two halves together because I couldn’t roll out a large enough slab on the slab roller. After we returned from our Open Studio lunch, I was dog tired. Still, I had to stay to finish my ceramic mold, or the clay slabs would’ve become too dry. With a burst of energy, I lifted one slab into place. I’d already scratched and applied clay slip to the surfaces that would overlap. In the end, both Otto and Gary helped hold things in place and I worked fast, sealing seams. Done for the day, I covered it with plastic. The whole thing was large and heavy, so Gary helped me move it to the damp room and there it sits. Now, I’ve achieved a bit of distance and realize the clay cone is too darned big. Bird house for rent: only ravens need apply! I overcompensated for shrinkage…. So, come Tuesday, I will remove a slice from each side and seal it, making it narrower. Also next week, I will begin making the roof and will post pics. My plan is to start with the slab roller and finish on the table, making one big, thinnish piece. Hmm. What shall I use for a mold?

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