Moms Birthday present.

Moms Birthday present.

Last week ( I showed you what turned out to be the Arnold Schwarzenegger of Chickadees! He is Humongous!! (There may have been a robin secretly involved in his parentage. Some illicit tryst perhaps?)  As I said last week, I mostly followed Sara’s instructions and upgraded the wire for Mega-chickadee. The wire gauge was defiantly a success there was just too much of it.

A bit of historical interlude (I will get back to felting shortly I promise)

When I was much shorter and could still climb trees, my parents bought land adjacent to a lake but way up a steep slope, so reasonably safe from lake attacks. (You do not want to ask me about the long weekend before I started grade 13. Never trust water!) A small cottage was built looking out across the lake and we enjoyed watching sunsets, sailboats and the local birds, including the great blue heron and the loon family.  Mom and Dad enjoyed the Chickadees, Wrens and hummingbirds particularly. I spent many years bringing mom wonderful presents, of Frogs, in various sizes and shades of green. I finally gave up on my quest for the perfect frog, when Mom rejected a tree frog. it was perfect! How can you object to those huge cute eyes, the sucker tows and cool colours that made him almost invisible sitting on a tree! But no it was like all the other frogs I had brought her. Mom said, “it’s an outside creature take it outside right now!” “Aw, Mom!!!”  I got the same response for grass snakes, garter snakes and black rat snakes (I did not try the snake that looked like a Mississauga rattler but without the rattle). She even rejected turtles, including the almost impossible-to-catch, soft-shelled Mud turtle!!! Look at the nose on one, it’s soo cool!!!

Mom’s birthday is coming up fast and its going to be one of those big number birthdays. This year will be her 90th! So i will have to chose her present carefully! I know frogs, snakes and turtles are out as presents. She did like the small birds at the cottage, but the chickadee I just made would be unacceptably large. The armature would make a fine robin but she still blames the robin for taking out the original railing on the path down to the lake. The robin was a bit Rubenesque and it often hopped down the skinny birch tree that had been used to create the railing. On one trip to the cottage, we realized the railing was broken and lying on the ground! Stupid robin I bet it was jumping on the railing again!! – so no, I had better not make a robin.

She would like a chickadee; they are always so fun and will yell at you if you didn’t fill up the bird feeder fast enough. The ones in my side yard get particularly annoyed with me if I’m out and haven’t topped up the feeder.  Ok, I will have to make a smaller armature at least half the size, maybe a bit smaller.

I am pleased with the armature wire gauges that I had used for Mega-chickadee and they should work for a closer to normal size bird too. The body is 20ga steel floral wire. I measured from the foot, leg, body the added the length for the neck/head. I wrapped the neck/head in black floral tape and then cut the excess off, Which I used for the shoulder/body and tail.  I used 26-gauge floral wire for the tows and extra leg supports. I was enthusiastic in the wrapping of the legs to provide lots of support for posing the little guy.

1 Mega-Chickadee and 2 smaller Chickadee armatures

I selected a short, superfine, highly crimpy fibre from a fleece I had purchased from the Wool Growers Co-Op, (possibly a Shetland). This is the same fibre I used for the mega bird legs too.  I pulled out my scary-looking Viking combs and put them to use. I drafted out a narrow sliver and wound carefully around the wire. Unfortunately, earlier this morning I was moving small plants in pots in the front garden, one of the pots broke and I broke one of my talons much lower than they normally break. OWW!! ( I trimmed the nail down and had to use the left hand as my primary winder.  (One of the few positives of my particular learning disability is my weakness for the concept of left and right, which means I have two lefts or two rights and can often use the wrong right hand to do things. Silly brain).


Ok, the left hand is not as good at photography as the right one is.  It may be because all the buttons are on the wrong side for the left fingers. Can you get a left-handed camera? My thumb should be heeled by the weekend but now I’m curious about left-handed cameras…. Focus, back to felting!!

3 legs done and the first under-layer of core wool added.

4 comparing the two new armatures

I did not use the floral tape with its waxiness to increase adhesion on the legs but the wool stayed in place well. I was starting to worry I had guessed the nose (beak) too long. I can trim the nose back if it seems too long but let’s add more wool and find out if it still looks long.

I put away the Viking combs and pulled out the hand cards. I had made a large purchase, from World of Wool, of 2kg of white core wool. The texture is soft but a bit clumpy so just pulling out of the bag to use was not drafting as well as I would like. When I did a quick couple passes with the hand cards I created a lovely soft, lofty, easy to draft out mini batt. From which I could easily pull a section to draft and wrap with.

I used a bit of Corriedale blending of the colours licorice and slate to wrap the beak.  if you can, most living things will look more realistic if you blend more than one tone or colour. In the case of black if you can make that darkness with slate and a really dark brown or green or even a bit of red you will get a much more interesting black than using the colour “out of the tube” as it were.

Then I added more of the core wool white to build up the chest back and head.

5 It’s amazing how much bigger the bird is than the armature.

6 A bit more wool to the front of the face to get a better shape and the beak now looks like the correct size.

Oh good the nose is not too big!! The head, on the other hand, does look a bit tall and large. I need a quick trip back to check my photo reference to get the shape and angles on the head.

7 Here is Mega-Chickadee, normal chickadee and extra armature.

A bit fluffy but coming along nicely. It is now time to mix up more dark charcoal, this time to add the markings on the head.

8 it’s nice to see where you are going! So, I added the eyes.

9 Still a bit too tall so worked on compacting the top of the head.

The armature is strong enough to hold a pose of the head. The legs are also supporting the body weight. This was a good choice of wire gauge.

10 posing the armature and getting the curl in the toes.

11 I think it needs a bit of a creamy tone to the under-wing and sides of the body.

12 much better.

Now that is what I basically want. The core wool does have a bit of kemp, not a lot just the odd bit that protrudes, as well as a light halo of wispiness.  The poor guy seems a bit harry. Ann sometimes Shaves her wool to expose silk fibres, it works wonderfully. I think some tiny scissors may work for my purpose.  Now, where did I put those fine embroidery scissors? Hummmm……

13   Standing on the scissors will not keep me from trying to trim up the flyaway hairs. Is this a subtle hint not to trim anymore?


Need for more Experiments!!

I think I should make a couple of samples of hairy surfaces and try a thin application of hair spray or fixative to see if that will keep the fuzziness contained.  I would want to do a time test to check for yellowing or other discoloration to the wool if either spay is applied.  But for now, just the very basic trim has neatened up the surface of the chickadee greatly.

14 a view of the back

Next, I am off to IKEA, well in the morning, now it’s quite late since I got distracted again while writing this blog. There are bell display bottles “BEGÅVNING – Glass dome with base 7 ” tall”. Yes that is for the morning, “Yawn” I will let you see what I find tomorrow.


Day 2 the “Framing”

Oh, the Excitement!! A trip to IKEA!! (OK it’s only 5 stop signs away from the house. Well, 4 stop signs on the road and 1 in thier parking lot. It is very close, but it’s been over a year since I have been there!!) I consulted the web page and notice that the cafeteria is open for take-away food. Gravadlax or Poached Salmon? Yummm. Ok grab the camera and the Chickadee and headed off to IKEA!

15 the exciting Begavnings in their natural environment!

16 they come in two sizes!

17 the options at IKEA, If I could do woodturning I would consider the glass covers and make a wooden base.

I decided on the smaller size Begavning. Now off to get lunch to bring home.

As a fabulous treat, I went to the cafeteria and found that it was indeed open and you could eat in if you were spaced apart. I sat way at the back of the dining area in a section all by myself. It felt so odd to be eating in public and so tasty!

18 what a treat!

19 I think someone wants my dry cracker. Good thing chickadees can’t open zip lock baggies!

While i was shopping I also found a wooden articulated hand, a pepper grinder and then an umbrella weighted base in AS-IS! I LOVE trips to IKEA!

I brought home the display jar and tried the chickadee in it. The photo shows more reflection than is seen in person. Yes, that is what I am looking for.

20-21 almost ready to wrap

Do I need a piece of corkscrew hazel to give a bit of height? I tried one piece but was not convinced. I think I should add a couple of sunflower seeds and let that be the narrative.

22-25 The photoshoot

Mom’s 90th Birthday is on the 08th of the 08th, I have ordered Chocolate chip cookies from Ann (her favourite) and I have the chickadee done. It will be wonderful to see her. I hope she will like the little guy. I bet she says “at least it’s not a frog” when she opens it!

PS; Don’t tell Mom what she is getting, its a surprise!! (She doesn’t read the blog!)



20 thoughts on “Moms Birthday present.

  1. What a fantastic make for your mum! I know she will absolutely love this lovely gift!
    How wonderful!

    1. thanks Carol! she really enjoyed it! i think the real seeds confused her a bit she was worried i had brought her a real bird like our family cat had. (Tim did mice and birds, i use to bring her Frogs, snakes, turtles and a very cute mole)

  2. What a gorgeous present for your mum! The seeds make a good narrative – he’s fixed his eye on them!
    And you found the perfect container.

    He does look better after his trim but we agree that it would be foolhardy to try a spray/fixative without knowing the long-term effects.

    Yes, Ikea is a magical place with such amazing products at good prices. The meatballs are good too.

    We all know children that are just like cats that bring presents of dead mice indoors. We’ve had grass snakes, worms, slugs and wood lice.
    But your mum will not want you to take the beautiful bird back outside – she will love it.

    1. Yes she wanted to keep the little bird! i did a mix of black sunflowers my chickadees eat and the salted roasted ones people eat since they showed up a bit better in the display container.

      lkea has a grate selection of frame including shadow boxes. they seem to have switched a lot of there frames to plexiglass from glass so i stoped buying them. (i still have a good number with glass in a box in the downstairs bathroom!) do you do the traditional go to as-is then do your shopping stop at the cafateria then go back and check As-is a second time?

      my childhood presents to mom represented good to amazing hunting skills (soft shelled mud turtle), while my brother crept up on wild flowers and decapitted them! what kind of skill dose it take to sneek up on a brown eyed susan or a Dasy? it takes them years to run across a meddow. (Mom kept the flowers but regected all my frogs ect!) maybe i should have folowed Tim’s bird hunting teachings more literaly and cot birds rather than put his cat training to use focusing on reptiles and anfibians.

    1. thanks Ann! i am not sure if she like the bird or the Hart shaped chocklet chip cookies you made for her better? she made shure she took her cookies with her but my brother was going to bring the rest of her birthday loot back to her apartment that evening.(includeing the bird) so i think the cookies won! i was realy suprized she did not say well at least its not a frog. (that was the resonce to receving the lilly pad 3d picture a few xmass ago. the Frog went elsewhere i knew it would be apresiated)

  3. As usual Jan, a great tale. I love your chickadee and know your mum will love it too.
    I have to admit that the only things I can remember taking home to my mum were wild flowers – Cowslips (we were allowed to pick them back then) for Mothering Sunday, which she loved and Cow Parsley, which she hated – it was called Mother Die in Wales where she was born!
    I must have a look in Ikea when we are next there for the bell jars; though we won’t be eating there unfortunately. Since the lockdowns here in the UK you can’t eat at Ikea unless you have smartphone to book a seat, and we don’t.
    Looking forward to your next post

    1. i am shure your Mom apresiated the flowers much more than getting a fabulous frog or soft snake. i will have to look up cow parsly im not shure what it looks like. (likely better than anything called Motherdie. a name like that dose not bode well for the boukay!)
      there a the 2 kinds of bell jars with and without bottms and thay both come in a larger and smaller size. i hope thay are carrying them in the UK as well as Canada. i checked the web site which had not been updated and still had the old covid info on it. thay had order and pay in the store and you took your food with you with no mention of smart fones. so maybe thay will give you the take away option. in the before time i use to see pople bring glass containers with lids and the cafateria staff would put there meal in it for take away so that mite be an option too?

    1. Thanks Ruth, i will pass your happy birthdays on to Mom! it was a fabulous party (small but with good company including Mom and Chocklet cake!)

    1. thanks! and i am so glad you are going to try one too! it was a lot of fun. just remember to make the smaller armature than my first one. i used one pice of 18 inch steel floral wire 20ga and folded it carefuly in half. from the open end, i mesured heal to front of foot, across the tows, back to the ankle then up to the knee to the hip then to the sholder, then the lngth of the head and neck. i taped that point and cut off from there up to the fold. the fold then sat at the chest at the neck bend. i wound it around the upper body part i think twice and then twised the two ends together to form the body shape and tail suport. if it helps the part i cut off for the body/tail support was about 8cm or just under 3 inches. if you feel you have too much tail support you can always trim off the exsess. but get your wool on first before you make a desition i was shure my beek was too long and it wound up to be fine.
      Goodluck and have fun!!

  4. Oh this little bird is so lovely Jan, your Mom will love him. The dome works perfectly with him. Happy 90th birthday to your special lady! I hope she is having a super day. Funny how a shop like IKEA unites us all. I love it too along with the trips to the cafe.

    1. thanks i will pass along your Happy birthday wishes too!
      when i bot this tiny little house it should have come with a warning lable “Too close to ikea” it moved into the mall just down at the other end of my street! i dorve past it going back and forth to work every day. i stoped in almost every day watching for a Vardi base cabinet for the kitchen. it took about a year but i got one at Vastly reduced price from As-is. almost everything in my house is from AS-IS, well most of the furnature and drapes. did you know that a reference library is a grate way to insolate and soundproof your house? it took a lot of bookcases to hold all our books. it is vary hand to have one so close even if its a bit dangerous for unexpected greate aquisitions!

  5. Jan….a delightful story of ‘unwelcome’ gifts for your mum. I have imagined it all, because just like Ann, it was flowers in my case. At least my flowers got water & house room!

    Your mum will be thrilled with the neat cheeky chickadee. I love the way he has his head cocked. He will also bring many happy memories flooding back I’m sure. I hope she had a good 90th yesterday.

    IKEA what can I add? Other than – where would we be without it? It has now been nearly 2 years now since my last visit. It keeps coming up in conversation as a ‘we need to go’ fact (read that as – i need my fix)….but….!!! One day soon I hope!

    1. thanks! yes my hutting skills (aquiered from my first cat) went unapresiated. 2 of my cossens were able to come and supprize her! she was thrilled. she talked about her siblings (she is the last one left now)and realy seemed to be enjoying herself. i hope she will remember the day, i took picktures i should get some of the best ones printed out so that will help the memory stick.

      Ikea is a Meca! the food, the shopping, the greate deals in AS-IS! i hope you can get back to an ikea soon! the withdrall symptoms are tarrable!!! its not the same to order something and go pick it up at the door when you can go look at all the new stuff in person. my store is getting a masive reorganizing for the main level and the warehouse section (As is will be expanded!) so i will have to relurn all the secret pathways through the store and find out how many km’s the ofical pathway will be. my hubby used ikea as part of his post knee sergery exerszie ruteen. he has the other knee comeing up i gess we will be going back to ikea for exerzie in the not too distant future! OH the Hardship!

  6. Thanks Mom had a fabulous 90th birthday She loved her new bird but looked a bit worried when she opened it and asked if it was real. when she was assured the bird was wool but the sunflower seeds were real!

  7. I’m sure your mum loved it! What a nice present 🙂 I hope she had a wonderful birthday.

    Have you thought about adding melted wax to the feet? It makes them look very realistic and keeps the fuzz all tucked in.

  8. What a lovely post and a great gift for your mum. The bird turned out well and the domed container is perfect, I didn’t know IKEA did those. In fact I lost a good bit of time looking through their range of display type items online this afternoon.
    If I had children I think I would have loved being gifted frogs and snakes…..I used to take my mum frogs and insects which we then set free in the garden.

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