Sculptural Birdhouse Beads | Polymer Clay Tutorial

Birdhouse BeadsVideo #201: “I’m amused by the idea of sculpted polymer clay birds with a little drinks menu, trying to decide between beer, tea or cocoa!” ~Silverleaf

There is something about nature and beads that just goes perfectly together. And it seems that the huge trend towards nature inspired jewelry is getting stronger every year.

Just type nature into the search box under the jewelry category in Etsy, and you will see the 51,201 results that pop up. While you are there, do another Etsy search using birds as the jewelry keyword. I got 47,968 results… seems to be a popular topic!

I first wrote about this Bird Pendant Jewelry Trend over two and half years ago… and today, things have not died down one little bit. In fact, anything to do with birds and jewelry designs seems to be hot… birdhouses, nests, eggs, branches, feathers, bird cages… and many other topics as well.

Now speaking of hot plus bird topics, the following is a fun conversation amongst some of the members here last summer. It all started with a discussion about a heat wave that was happening in Arizona at the time. How hot was it you ask? Well…

It’s so hot here in Arizona right now, I went to Joann’s and bought some clay this morning, and when I got home it was already baked. LOL. We were in the pool at 7:30 a.m. it was already hot out … even our quail are looking for cold beer. ~Bonnie-K

LOL ! LOL ! It’s so wet and chilly here this AM, I had to turn my furnace on at 7:30 AM. ~Lawrence-S

Brrr. Sounds cold Lawrence – where do you live? I imagine the birds there are asking for coffee or cocoa instead? ;D ~Phaedrakat

I’m in BRITISH Columbia and we feed them tea ;-). Actually I am on the 49th parallel and can walk into Washington State if I so wish. Most of the Pacific Northwest has been having wet, chilly weather lately. The good side is that more time indoors for clay play. ~Lawrence-S

Your cooler weather sounds wonderful; I prefer that to the heat. I need to get finished with my workspace now, before it gets over 100 and I have sticky, messy clay! ~Phaedrakat

Lawrence, it’s only going to be 89 here tomorrow, we might have to turn the furnace on too. LOL ~Bonnie-K

I’m amused by the idea of sculpted polymer clay birds with a little drinks menu, trying to decide between beer, tea or cocoa ~Silverleaf

Wish I could sculpt, that would be cute. A little bird family holding drink menus. Guess I’ll have to get out my Christi Friesen bird book and see what I can do. LOL. Or maybe I’ll just have a beer and forget about it. ~Bonnie-K

Me too! I’ve been meaning to learn to sculpt birds because I want to make one for my friend from New Mexico. She’s been studying here in the UK this year and is going home very soon, and she shares my love of birdwatching so it would be fun to give her a little English birdy drinking a cup of tea! ~Silverleaf

Christi Friesen has a new book called “Birds of feather”. It shows how to sculpt birds and it’s awesome. You can get it at Amazon. She has a great sense of humor too. There’s a penguin in there that I just want to hug he’s adorable. She makes it easy… or at least look easy. ~Bonnie-K

Isn’t it great how polymer clay can be tied in with just about every conversation… even when we talk about the weather!? :D

Anyhoot (as in making owl sounds… and … as in having way too much fun here), tomorrow (Friday April 22nd, 2011) in the Vol-035-4 video at the Polymer Clay Library, I’ll be demonstrating how to make adorable little Birdhouse Focal Beads. You’ll have a blast personalizing them with all kinds of polymer clay and metal embellishments.

Please Note: A general prerequisite for all of my weekly tutorials is that you have a good understanding of the polymer clay basics, including: conditioning clay, using a pasta machine, clay blade and other simple tools, making Skinner Blends or Teardrop Blends, baking clay, as well as sanding and finishing. If you need help in these areas, my Polymer Clay Beginners Course will get you up to speed quickly. There is also plenty of free information on this blog. Use the search box at the top of the page to find articles on specific topics.

Supplies & Tools: Video-035-4 Birdhouse Beads:

  • Small amount of clay in the color of your choice. Small piece of Copper or Silver colored clay.
  • Clay blade.
  • Pasta machine or acrylic roller.
  • Bead rack and piercing pins.
  • Small to medium sized ball stylus (optional). You could use the head of a round pin as an alternative if you wish.
  • Head pin and flush cutters (optional).
  • Polymer clay canes for embellishment (optional).
  • Texture plates with a wood grain effect (optional).
  • Antiquing medium or acrylic paint (optional).
  • Polymer clay safe adhesive such as Weldbond.

The full version of the Vid-035-4 Birdhouse Beads video, will be posted in the Polymer Clay Members Library on Friday April 22nd, 2011. But if you would like to see a sneak peek intro clip right now, scroll down the page a bit to the video player below.

Click Video Play Button

The full version of the “Birdhouse Beads” preview video shown above, is now avail for purchase at the Polymer Clay Library in the Vol-035 Back Issue Pckg.

Customer Feedback About Membership Value:

Cindy: There are no words to describe how much I love your tutorials! I have other books and videos and tapes but nothing can compare to your lessons. Each video is concise and clear. Even the camera angle is superb. Other videos are shot from the front and you see more of the teacher than what she or he is actually doing. I go back to your videos time and time again because no matter how much I watch, I still need to check out something once I actually begin the hands-on portion. The cost is more than fair. I don’t know if it is profitable for you but I intend to stay a member as long as you are available. Even in these difficult times the price is affordable. I wake up on Friday and think, Oh great! Today another video is available. You are the best and I am thrilled that I found you. On top of everything else you seem to be such a sweet and unassuming person so each video is like a visit with a good friend. I love you, Cindy! ~Beverle-S

We have a great teacher in Cindy and for what we pay we get heaps of value, I’m sure everyone agrees. Love. ~Elizabeth-K

Cindy and Doug, this Tube Bead Roller video was another tute knocked out of the park. You made a useless piece of equipment worth its weight in gold to me. So simple, so easy and so Cindy. Then Doug caught it all oh so talented filming so we could all see it in our very own homes. Thank you Lietz team spectacular for continuously keeping us fed with the best of PC knowledge at pennies a pop. I still do not understand why anyone who has found their way to this blog, doesn’t sign up if not instantly, then at least within a week or 2. I still get mad at myself for not signing up the very first moment I found Cindy. One good thing is that new members can still buy any tutes they have missed. It was easier for me though I hadn’t missed that many so it wasn’t that hard for me to get all the back issues right away. So Join Now Don’t be a fool like I was!! ~Peggy-B

The following topics are included in this week’s Polymer Clay Tutor Library, Birdhouse Beads video tutorial:

  • See several examples of beads, pendants and earrings that were made using the Birdhouse design.
  • Discussion of the tools and techniques needed to create this simple and stunning polymer clay focal bead.
  • Learn cool tricks for getting the look of hammered copper and tin roofing for your adorable little birdhouse beads.
  • Plus, with some creativity and ingenuity, there are many ways to come up with other unique birdhouse focal bead designs of your own.

The full version of the “Birdhouse Beads” preview video shown above, is now avail for purchase at the Polymer Clay Library in the Vol-035 Back Issue Pckg.
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Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

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Comments

  1. You have made my day !! I love birdhouses and I love making little charm type items. I know I’ll end up making these by the dozens. I have a pile of little teapots and flip flops sitting in front of me right now and would love to see you make tutes on those. Your ideas continue to amaze me and bring a smile to my face.

  2. These are SOOOOOOOOOO Cute!! I have a 14 yr Grand daughter. Bet she would love these……….Another “can’t wait”. Thanks for thinking “outside the box” er…..birdhouse. What a neat idea, I love it !

  3. Too cute! Love the little aged charm. I can see myself making bunches as the possibilities are endless. Come on Friday!

    A little off topic: Is anyone besides me finding the new Premo very soft to work with? It doesn’t seem to matter how long I leave it to rest after working with it. It remains kind of gooey, even softer that Sculpy III. I know it’s possible that I got a bad batch but since I bought several colors and am having the same problem with all of them, I wonder. Did they change the formula? I chose colors to make a Cindy flower cane but I’m worried about trying to reduce it when the clay is so soft. Just curious about experiences others are having. Thanks.

    • @Elizabeth S.: It’s not just you I’m having the same problem! I like the fact that it’s so easy to condition, however when it comes to cutting slices off it’s really soft. Placing it in the refrigerator helps a little. It’ll be interesting to see what others say. The positive is I LOVE the new colors :)

      • @Jeanne C.: Thanks for weighing in on this, Jeanne. I too, adore the new colors but I’m wondering if the new Premo will work as well for caning. They must have changed the formula as my previously purchased (before new colors) Premo is much stiffer. I will put it in the fridge as you suggest but darn it, I want it to work like the old stuff did without having to do anything extra. Right? This may be an example of trying to improve something that was just fine the way it was.

        • @Elizabeth S.: Yes I agree why change something when it was working!! My girlfriend and I get together once a week to “play clay” we were making a flower cane and when we sliced into it to quarter it the clay dragged distorting the design :( I do let the clay rest before slicing but in this case it didn’t work. Thats when I decide to but it in the fridge. XXX

        • Thanks guys! I think you all are going to enjoy making these sweet little birdhouses. In fact I had a hard time not making a gazillion samples, it was so fun!

          @Elizabeth S.: I too noticed that the new colors were softer, but I don’t believe they have changed the formula at all. I just think that since these colors are totally new, that we are just dealing with what a really fresh clay is like. I think that we are generally getting clay that has been sitting around for awhile. Bet you anything this clay will firm up quite nicely over time.

          I also noticed a code on the new packs that seem to correlate to dates or batches, which means in theory we could look at the package and know whether it was fresh or not and choose clay that is ‘perfectly aged’. (I need to ask Polyform about that to be sure.)

          As far as caning with it, go ahead. As long as all your colors in your cane are new, there won’t be much problem with reducing it. I haven’t had problems anyway. Popping it into the fridge like Jeane suggested is a good idea though, especially for slicing, since softer canes do have trouble with getting squished during the slicing process. You could always leach the clay if it is really too soft, but that is always a pain to do if you can avoid it.

          I agree the new colors are fantastic! Stay tuned, because they will be featured in the next set of recipes and tutorials. It is always nice to have some new colors to get everyone inspired!

    • @Elizabeth S.: Elizabeth, you are not alone. I bought some of the new colors and they are indeed very, very soft. I was wondering if it was because it is so “new” production-wise compared to the other clay I have bought at my Hobby Lobby. I used the Pomegranite in a cane and it was waaaaayyyy too soft compared to the other colors I used. I would definitely recommend to you to try leaching it if you are using it in a cane. The blue translucent I bought was actually squished into the packaging, it looks like from the factory, it is so soft. I made some faux lapis lazuli with the Blue Granite and Denim and they were so soft it was hard to grate them and get them to separate so they could be mixed in a random fashion. I will definitely be leaching the rest of what I have when I use them.

  4. Cindy I’m really looking foward to this tutorial. I love birds and bird houses and had a collection of them around the house when I lived in Vermont. Looking forward to making some. :)

  5. OMG…I have been wanting to do regular birdhouses out of polymer clay and these little birdhouses are awesome! This should be a fun tute! Thanks, Cindy! Oh, hurry up Friday!

  6. You know, I totally forgot about making my NM friend a birdy! Thanks for reminding me Cindy. :)

    The birdhouses are cute – not my style, but I know I’ll learn something from the video that I can apply to other projects.

  7. Yeah! You must be reading my mind, Cindy! I made only one pair of bird house earrings and it was the first pair of earrings I made using polymer clay! I made them for my “Bestest Friend” because she loves bird houses. Just the other day I remember making those earrings and wanted to try making some more. Well, I guess I can now – at least I only have to wait till tomorrow. I have been wanting to do more sculpturel things and this fits the catagory, thanks!!

  8. Wonder if that new Bozzi tissue blade from Brazil, will help with the softness of the new Premo stuff?

    Based on the video, you could saw your wrist all day and never cut yourself. But, when applied to the clay, the slices are amazing and not distorted.

  9. Back on subject, lol, won’t these bird houses be darling as charms on the Dangle Bangle Cindy taught us to make in volume 025?

  10. I woke up early in anticipation of the next video (5.am here in the UK) – you’ve really got me hooked Cindy! Your videos are not only cleverly produced and filmed in a way that is easy to see (thank you Doug!) but the ideas are so amazing! Every week you come up with something new and I’m always surprised. More power to your elbow Cindy! And thanks for a super web site!

  11. I found that the new colours I bought are very soft as well, especially the blue trans.

    I haven’t really done much with them yet apart from making magnetic chips and a little bit of colour mixing and a spliced flower cane (which worked fine, but then I haven’t reduced it much) but I’ll definitely have to leach in future I think. Kind of annoying, but Polyform seem to be really pushing Premo to “casual” users so if they have made the clay softer, that’ll be why.

  12. What a great video, especially because it combines so many techniques taught previously, and allows use of scrap clay due to the smallness of the object. Can’t wait to see the reaction of a group of kids to this one, perfect introduction!

  13. So sweet ! Spring Time is my favorite time :)

    And any time I can use up a bit of my scrap is time well spent

    Time (ha ha) to get started

  14. Wonderful tutorial. Those are just toooooooooo cute. Can’t wait to try that.

    Great idea.
    Thanks again.

    Happy Spring, even though it’s 90 here already.

  15. As the new saying goes…..easy peesy and what a fun tute. This has so many possiblities. Thanks to all at Lietz Ltd. :) Or should that be unltd?

  16. Love the birdhouses! We love looking out our window at the birds feeding. Making some bird houses will make me enjoy them even more.

    For one of the perches you said you used a hand-torched copper piece. I was told you couldn’t make a ball at the end of copper wire with a torch. Evidently you can. I may have to get a torch.

    • Oh, Cindy…what adorable birdhouse beads! Your examples are lovely…especially love the “apartment” style cellphone charm (w/rose dangle garden) & the “dimensional” birdhouse pendant with leaves (antiqued w/white.)

      Thanks so much…these are really cute, and just in time for Spring! I’ve noticed lots of “birdy” & other nature-inspired pretties out there in jewelry land. I’ll be sure to make several of these darling birdhouse beads. They’ll make wonderful charms — love to mix & match ‘em w/other goodies in a variety of jewelry (and more!) projects. It’s great…all we really need is scrap clay, imagination, and your tute! Some smart ideas in the video, BTW…

      Thanks also, Cindy…for the stroll down memory lane (the posted convo from last summer!) And congratulations — it sounds like you finally got your hands on the new Premo! Sculpey clay colors! I’m thrilled, cuz even though I haven’t had the pleasure yet, I’m happy knowing our PC Tutor has the colors to use for palettes & tutorials…(and you share so much!) I’m still waiting for Michael’s or JoAnn to stock them — shouldn’t be TOO much longer now, LOL! I guess it’s for the best anyway…after hearing how soft it is. Hopefully, MY clay is already manufactured…it’s sitting in a nice, cool warehouse, aging & firming-up nicely, soon to be delivered to my local store (& maybe no leaching required?? We’ll see…) :D

      @Freda K: Hi Freda! Someone may have gotten confused about copper wire, as it requires a little more heat to ball up than fine silver wire does. Especially when using a cheap, butane torch. The different torches, and how the type & gauge of wire is affected by them, are discussed in a few different posts here at the blog. For more info, search on “headpins” or “copper headpins” — you’ll find the relevant threads… ;-)

  17. Usually I am not a cutsie type of person. BUT– these bird houses are so cute. My mind is spinning with ideas. My scrap pile is calling me LOL.. Won’t sleep tonight -too busy making little houses………………

  18. I love birds and these little bird houses are so cute! I’ve got some ideas spinning around in my head. your tutorials are just fabulous and I have so much to yet try.

  19. These are adorable, what a cool idea Cindy! We have feeders in the backyard active with gossipy chickadees, bright yellow finches and once in a while a shy woodpecker (Flicker) hangs around too. Although these beads are really cute I can picture different styles as well from this lesson, depending on the colors, scale and shapes used. I love the variations you’ve shown us…thanks for such a fun tute!

  20. Love the possibilities with this tut. I have a fountain in my back yard, visible from my kitchen window. One of my greatest joys in life is to watch the daily bird activity. I have every variety from tiny hummingbirds to huge blackbirds and they all seem to get along. Right now, unusual for me to see here, is a flock of robins. They seem to visit in the spring and fall–I’ve decided that my fountain is kind of a bird Mcdonald’s or something, a place to stop and rest for a few days on their travels north or south. Geesh! I got kind of carried away here, didn’t I, but I just love my little bird friends. What fun it will be to think about them as I create some of these precious charms.

    Thanks to everyone who responded regarding the softness of the new Premo. I’m heartened and encouraged to think that it is just the newness of the clay and that in time it will firm up, but disheartened to think that leaching will be necessary for a while-worth it though as the colors are awesome. Becky, you must have been so frustrated in your efforts to create your faux lapis and a cane. Again, thanks for the help.

    • @Elizabeth S.:

      Your comments highlight the best past of the challenge for me (non-artist to the bone, lol). Polymer clay is new. No rules. Every batch changes. Each color is unique. And when you grub around, it’s amazing how much fun you can have by yourself cheaply.

      • @pattw35: I agree…such a clever group of people, both their comments and the wonderful stuff they make! You’re so funny, too…like complimenting Cindy on “thinking outside the, er, birdhouse”. And I got a funny picture in my head when you said you wouldn’t sleep tonight…too busy making little houses… ;D

        @Jocelyn: Your “grubbing around” has resulted in some super ideas. Not only fun, but you always discover some inexpensive ways to “get it done”!

        @pollyanna: Hi! I think “unlimited” is the right word! The way they’re going… ;D

        @Tantesherry: Welcome, Tantesherry! So glad you joined the conversations…it’s really good to have you here!

    • @Elizabeth S.: So you are a bird watcher? Cool! My lil chihuahua, Bubby, is a bird chaser! So, I won’t be lucky enough to watch any birds this summer.
      Like the new clay being soft. It is easier to condition. But when making a cane, I would just let it sit over night or a few minutes in the refrigerator. but, if you are like me, a little impatient, I guess leaching it first would be best. But, don’t you just love the new colors? I made an Easter egg out of the 18k gold and it looks amazing!
      I had a hard time making them with papermache eggs and plastic eggs. There has got to be a better way! (Hint, Hint, Cindy!!!) the paper ache eggs were not hollow. They had a hard plastic center and just covered with a thin layer of paper. It then expanded in the oven and cracked the clay. The plastic ones just have to be very careful and bake at a lower temp and longer. Other than the wood eggs or real eggs I wonder what would be better?
      Well, I got a year to figure something out. Have a Happy Easter everyone!!

      • @Catalina: Thanks, Cat. I guess I’ll become a leecher for a while, but again it’s worth it to be able to use the new colors. I bought the new gold but haven’t tried it yet. OK OK OK, I’m tryin’ to sound like I know what I’m talking about but can someone please remind me again how to leech–clay, that is. Thanks.

        AND–here’s one more thing I need to know . For those of you who participate in juried shows, can you tell me how you do your photos? I’ve been online reading and universally find that the biggest way to get rejected is to submit poor images. Most sites recommend professional photography but I’m not sure I’m ready to spend that kind of money yet as it’s more likely that I will get rejected for content anyway. However, if the wisdom dictates that this is the way to go I will have to bite the bullet and pull out the credit card. One site suggests purchasing Photoshop software and the basic stuff is pretty reasonable and seems pretty user friendly. I am going to try the free trial download to see if I can figure out the instructions and anticipate how many years the learning curve will consume. LOL. (Ah, to have a Doug Lietz or now a Willow Lietz in residence at a time like this.) Anyway, if anyone would be willing to share their wisdom I would be most appreciative.

        AND finally (I promise-maybe) can someone please tell me what that stupid booth shot requirement entails? I don’t even own a booth yet so can I just set up my display in my living room to show what it will look like?

        Cindy, you do know that this is all your fault for making me so excited about pc that I am now addicted and practice every day and now want to try my wings in the scary world of juried shows. LOL. Believe me, I wouldn’t have it any other way,

        • @Elizabeth S.: Wow, look at you! Taking the plunge — I’m excited for you! I did a quick search to see what the booth shot was all about…found some set-up tips (on a website for someone who charges for these booth shots.) They had some useful “general” booth shot tips included, as well… [alantonnesen.com/aot-boothshots.html#boothshottips] There’s quite a bit more out there, of course, although I can’t wait to see what Cindy-bloggers have to say about this. I just love seeing how far everyone is going with their polymer clay art!

          • @Phaedrakat:Thank you my sweet friend. I will explore the links you provided with pleasure. Frankly, I’m thinking that just the experience of applying will add to my knowledge bank as I assume (or hope, anyway) the judges give you feedback on what you need to improve.

            Hope everyone is having a Happy Easter.

            Love,
            Elizabeth

    • @Elizabeth S.: Well, Elizabeth, with more work and the freezer, the lapis and the cane turned out okay in the end. Just that bit of panic that sets in at first when things aren’t going the right way! Besides the new, very soft Pomegranite in the cane, I also had some very hard Orange; the 2 just did not mix well together! I wonder just how old that Orange was, lol? I should set aside some new Pomegranite to find out when it becomes that hard just to experiment!

  21. The comments of this site are so funny ! What a lovely and loving bunch of clayers !!!!!!!! Thanks Lietz team for bringing this out. You guys make my day

  22. Okay, so I couldn’t wait all day for my house to clear out so I could get to making some of these sweet little birdhouse beads. Nice huh, it being Easter and all :( Anyhow, I am dead tired and ran out of energy, but have so many ideas for them bursting in my little brain, so I’ve decided to sketch some out since I ran out of steam. It is actually kind of fun and I have realized that the possibilities are basically endless with all of our past tutorials. I am now thinking of the clay art sheets we did earlier, in addition to the mushroom bead tutorial, and lets not forget the mica shift… :) Oh, can’t wait to get to these little babies. Thanks Cindy and everyone for the inspiration and clay happiness I am feeling…. :)

    • @Laura R.: Laura that’s how I sometimes feel, too. I get these bursts of creativity and color ideas when I’m working out at the gym.I can hardly wait to finish my workout and get home to start making wonderful things. I LOVE POLYMER CLAY !!!

  23. Heard about you from a friend, Cindy. She sent me a link to you just in time to see the teardrop blend. You are clearly a great innovator.

  24. OT -Happy Mother’s Day one and all! hope you have a great one.

    I have made 16 birdhouses- including an out house. Now to get DH to photo them. It was great fun, but I think I’m birdhoused- out. Made a necklace and earrings (no dupes). I’ll post themas soon as I can

  25. WOW I have been using my computer or droid phone to view tutorials. Today I got on my iPad to read the blog and to my PLEASURE!!! I can now view on my iPad thank you thank you thank you!!!!

    • Awesome feedback everyone! I’m so glad everyone has been liking the birdhouse bead tute.

      @Edie H: Wonderful to hear you are now able to watch the videos on your iPad. Thanks for mentioning that.

  26. Thanks Cindy… I crack myself up…. I still after all these years have days where I guess I JUST forget how to type… not sure how this happens when I just sleep at night LOL….
    Thanks for this if you didn’t (of course) get my first message… My daughter loves bird jewelry and I cant wait to make her a few things before I see her in JUNE!
    Take care.

  27. I made a birdhouse charm for the bookmarks, with a backgroundless rose embellishment that is cute, but I also want to do more work on that. The hammered bookmarks are a hit, by the way. I also made a cute little clay “book” like the one you made for your son, which was a super gift for a 12 year old boy moving back to Canada. So, onward and upward….I do appreciate your lessons and will try to get up to speed on all of the projects so that I’m ready for new challenges.

    Thanks,
    Jane

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