Tuesday, April 17, 2012

You too can make a Bird of Poetry

U 2 can make one of these!!!
This Wednesday I will leading a workshop at the Attleboro Public Library where we will be making Birds of Poetry. The birds will then be added to garlands which will take flight in the library's atrium. 

Interactive Poetry Sculpture Workshop -- Open to all ages!!

This is the first of several workshops in which people will be able to imprint their favorite words, lines and poems on recycled material.

Have you ever tried to turn words into art you can see? Artist Virginia Fitzgerald will show you how to turn your favorite words, lines, lyrics and poems into a sculpture which will be exhibited in the Library's atrium. Bring the words that inspire you, that make you laugh, that make you think of the library, and we'll help you transfer them to recycled material that will be turned into art for everyone to enjoy!
Contact: Amy Rhilinger   508-222-7820, attleborokids@salilsinc.org

  This is a project was designed so anyone and everyone can participate, and participate either a lot or just a bit. The workshop will run from 1-3pm.  I will be there with bird and wing templates, endless materials to cover the birds and many, many books of poetry.
But for those who can not make it to Attleboro this Wednesday, Librarian Amy Rhilinger and I thought that it would lovely to have anyone, from anywhere contribute if the spirit moved them.  So, with that in mind, this post will walk you through the process, step by step.  If you have any questions, just either leave it in the comment section or email me ~ va.fitzgerald at comcast(dot)net.

So here we go . . . . 
This link should take you to a PDF which hopefully is the correct size (first time posting a PDF online :) ~ the body fits on an 81/2x11 piece of paper - regular printer paper.  
Once you get the template print it and cut it out.
examples of different types of recycled cardboard
 Use any cardboard that you have around the house. Just not too thick so that it is hard to cut. 
Position template on cardboard 
Then hold template in place, trace and then cut out
cardboard bird and template
 Now here is the FUN part - look around the house and through your recycling to find paper with which you will cover your bird.  Look for interesting texture, type and/or graphics.  For this project I plan to use a more limited palette ~
  black, white, grays, cream and browns 
so keep that in mind when hunting.  Below are pictures of examples of materials.
The inside of security envelope - wonderful patterns!!
bl/wht maps
pages from old white pages, the comics, magazines or sheet music.  Also I went to the dump and found old cookbooks, poetry books and nursery rhymes, giving their pages one more life.
Whatever paper you choose you will use it to 'paper mache' around your bird's body. This will give the bird a little more strength and cover any graphics that maybe on the cardboard.  This will also give the birds a consistent look when they are together.
Whatever paper you pick tear it into small pieces. so whatever is on the paper becomes more of a pattern than readable text.
For paper mache you need a thin paste - I recommend either the traditional paste of flour and water with a little salt or wallpaper paste or a white glue like Elmer's watered down.  This is not an exact science, find a consistency that you are comfortable to work with.  Just not too watery or the paper will not stick. 
You will want to cover your work space - here I used a cut open brown paper bag.
Now you can attach the pieces, covering the entire bird
For curves and corners, like the tail, you can cut the paper and fold it over in sections.
Arrows (hopefully u can see them:) point to places that I cut into the paper
then fold sections over.
The phonebook pages had these page marker which I cut out and added to the bird as graphic accents.
Once your bird is entirely covered you can hang it to dry. If you can't hang it just let it dry flat but turn it occasionally so that is does not stick to paper - you can lay the wet bird on aluminum or wax paper.
If the cardboard you use has folds . . 
Reinforce the folds with smaller flat pieces of cardboard on both sides of fold.  Staple the pieces over the fold. 
You will be covering the birds with paper mache so the bumps and staples won't show and the bird will be more stronger.  Once reinforced, paper mache away!!! 
Now for the Wings . . . .

The wings are made from white paper or brown paper - old envelopes, misprinted computer paper, old homework sheet or the inside of a brown paper bag.  You would like one of the sides of the paper to be  plain - because this is where you will put your mark!!!  
make your wing 3" - 31/2" wide.  The length can wary according to your paper but it would be good to be at least 10" long. (You can get a set of wings out of one piece of 81/2" x 11" paper.)
When you start to put your poetry onto the wing - leave about 3" blank at the top of the wing. 
Here I copied an Emily Dickerson poem with a black pen.

What you put on the wings is up to you.  This project is to help celebrate National Poetry Month so you could copy a poem, compose your own poem, you could write down a verse of a favorite song, a nursery rhyme or a limerick.  For this project I feel like you got also just write down words that move you or draw a picture.  The wings are a place where your creative self can take flight, the sky is the limit!!!
After writing the poem I trimmed the bottom of the wing to suggest flight.
At this point if you want them to be part of the installation you can mail your bird bodies and or wings (please do not fold them) to Amy Rhilinger @ the Attleboro Public Library or me at my studio:  
Birds of Poetry, Virginia Fitzgerald, 25 Washington Ave., Natick, MA 01760

If you wanted to make one to have in our home or studio or office I will show you the last steps.
you need 2 wings, the same size and you will trim the bottoms as I did in this photo.
then line them up together with the text facing each other

insert the top of the bird body in between the wings, so the underside of the wings is showing. 
you don't want to go to far into the bird's body, just enough so that the wings will attached to the body.
make sure that the wings are lined up - this will  ensure that when you staple on the wings that you will be stapling both wings
Take your staple from the bottom of the bird body and staple the wings.  You will need a regular stapler into which you can fit the bird's body, not a small one.
you want to staple both sides of the wings - front and back with one staple if possible.
I use three staples to attach entire wings.
You attached the wings with them straight up from the body of the bird so when you set the bird upright the wings will arc down, giving a sense of flight. 
Now you can hang it anyway you wish.  Because of the design of the wings, they will flutter in a breeze, so keep that in mind when you are deciding where to put it.
I have been having a blast making these birds and I can not wait until the workshop tomorrow!! Look for pictures on my blog tomorrow.  And read some poetry!!! peace

1 comment:

  1. Tomorrow is going to be a blast! Thanks for posting this Virginia!


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