Wednesday, July 29, 2009

100 Days: Flock Together

I knew I could never tame the feathers to get them to look less shaggy, it was beyond me. I had tried using thick hair styling gel and even glue. No, it was time to say "flock it." I painted on a coating of matte medium, then used a tea strainer to sift on cut polyester fibers called Fun Flock. (I wear a dual cartridge air mask as even though the material is technically non-toxic, I didn't want to have to process a lot of it through my lungs.)

It took several dustings and shake offs to get the flocking into all the crannies in all positions. I made the feet on both birds larger too. The eyes were made by sticking Vaseline coated dummy beads into blobs of hot glue to make the raised rims before dusting with flocking. Final eyes get permanently glued in with quick blinks to be added in post. The beaks were made with carved wood pieces, secured with wire to a strip of copper, embedded well inside the hollow head, which acts like a hinge. These puppets only have limited simple movements overall but they only have to suggest the furtive behavior of charming little birds. In hats.

On the left is the bird that was my best effort at the time when I urgently wrote to Mike in a panic. On the right,. is the currently improved puppet after reworking. His wings had to be removed and re-positioned higher on the body so that he could fold the wings into a relaxed position as well as outstretched.

It's getting there. I believe they will be as cute as I had hoped for the film.
I start feathering the second warm browns bird next. She/he will have the advantages of the many things I learned making this one. So far, I call her Frankenbirdie.


  1. wowzers. just read all the new posts. your on fire!

    the little hats are adorable. I love what the flocking method did for the look of this bird.

    the acorns are soo good. those little hats crack me up.

  2. Anonymous5:19 AM

    I love these birds. The whole hat concept is marvelous!! Amazing how much personality can be conveyed by a hat!

  3. Making birdaceous progress here, I can't keep up!
    Now I picture every bird I see with a hat.

  4. Thanks, Nick! I know! Birds do seem as though they "should" be in hats!!! Must be all the feathers?

  5. oh these are great! I should be coming here more often for inspiration as I am sadly lacking it at the mo.

  6. Thanks, DJ! How about trying what Mike Brent always says, "Just start twisting some wire and the next thing you know you'll have a puppet!" What are you working on?

  7. Oh, yes... I know this process... making bird puppets are definetely very challenging. I spent a loooot of time on my bird and it was very hard to figure out some parts.. Especially adding feathers was the hardest part.

    I LOVE how your bird look after improvement. And when she has the hat on.. it just looks wonderful. Waiting to see Frankenbirdie. How is it going?

    By the way, I will try using dishwasher gloves next time I work on a bird puppet.

  8. Thank, Yazzy, I 've got the first layer of feathers on Frankie and also doctoring up the blue guy too. He's really over worked but I must press on with both of them as opposed to starting over as there simply isn't time for these minor characters.

    In the end it will be fine. BUT I sure know how to build the main character Tarn, the crow woman now! so it was worthwhile doing these for that alone.


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