Once upon a time, my uncle gave me a lot of unused tape from wooden boards. I was able to cut them with knife or scissors and carve them easily, also to smeared with sandpaper. I was looking for the opportunity where I could use my passion for solving puzzles, sticking things together. When I was finally able to make very delicate fish scales, roof tiles or bird feathers for the first time.
Since I was gluing one small piece with another small piece, I was managing to form uneven curved blubbered surfaces. This time I will show you how I used this art technique of applied arts to create a sculpture of peregrine falcon for my good friend’s birthday.
First of all, you need to create a design for the sculpture, find some pictures how it could look like. There were very popular eagles sculptures with spread wings before or after the fly in Lithuania. Such sculpture pose seemed to look impressive enough for me, and it is possible to lay out several different feather ornaments.
But for me the wings of the eagle are too wide as if trying to show off to everyone how big it is and the peregrine falcon’s wings at the ends are narrowed, it is aerodynamically better when it comes to high speeds.
It also appealed to me for its diversity of colors so I can see use wood of at least two colors: dark brown and light yellow. After finding the right pictures, I draw the sketch, the boundaries where the feathers will end and where the feathers will bend so the shape of the body would fit bird’s anatomy.
In order to have a good body shape of a falcon, it is most convenient to create a simple, full-strength form of rigid foam, round it up and scrub with sandpaper. It’s best that when you’re gluing feathers, the glue would quickly get stiff. I chose to use a hot-melt adhesive gun. However, the sea foam is melting in the heat, so I used a low power gun but just in case I also plaster it with paper tapes with simple PVA adhesive so that if after foam will melt the paper didn’t loose rigid form.
Then I put thick wooden tapes in falcon’s body and secure it with PVA glue. The tapes will mark the end of the wings feathers ornaments ends and will help to maintain the weight of the wings.
I also attached wing’s stencils cut from the paper to the tapes with marked border lines, where the tip of the feathers would end. I used the same paper tip for the tail stencil.
At the bottom I have glued the paper cones for the shape of the legs and in the inside I have glued strong paper lined tubes wrapped around bamboo sticks, strong enough to hold the entire sculpture mass. To make it easy to glue it and to view it each time, I made a sole that I can easily stomp in falcon’s legs.
The first testings are started.
I cut off a lot of dark thin brown wood strips, about 0.5 mm (0.02 in) thick and 4 mm (0.16 in). I attached each one to the wings and on the edge of the tail stencil. I measured the required length and cut it off. One of it’s end I made round and the other end I made thin so the top gluing feather from the next row is easily fitted.
I inspect the prepared feathers with table lamp’s lights in case there is any mistakes, which will appear on the outside of the sculpture and stick to the paper stencil. That’s how I’m making a whole series of feathers and it’s very important to glue them in the direction that the feathers would look like spreaded out fans.
Since the feathers are not yet tightly glued together, I can easily bend, adjust the pose of the wings. The next step is to stick the feathers so that they lie on the top of each other so that the wings look thinner and the feathers do not look too rough on the surface and would seemed like they are soft.
Finally, it’s time for the small feathers – the busiest part of the work when you need to clip a lot of same small pieces of about 8 mm (0.3 in) long feathers. Each of which should be rounded and irradiated. Patience is what you really need in this job.
The first feathers were placed on the wings, each attached with glue and the wings becomes more and more solid and strong. However, it is very important to leave the unfinished feather rows to the body so that they blend with the back, so I glued the feathers rows from the tail first. I did not finished the feather queues at the neck because it is the most difficult place to create while making the head.
Everything I did at the top of the sculpture, I repeated with light wooden tapes from the bottom, only here under the wings, I needed to scrape off the paper stencil, but follow the drawn ribbon line where the ends of the feathers should be.
The lower feathers finally strengthened the wings and they finally remained stiff, stationary. Certainly, often with the attachment of feathers, excess glue is removed from the edges, so they must be carefully cut without damaging the feathers. The photos show the beauty of bird feathers, I have achieved what I have intended.
Now – the ornaments from different colored feathers. I need to put them in the pecular order on the legs and abdomen. Of course, the size of the dark feathers does not match the scale as in the real falcon, but they look similar. The first row starts from the tail, then extends to the legs, on which you need to create a shape water drop sleek shape and fold the rows so that they can easily merge with the diversity on the lower side of the wings. I’m not doing any more near chest, because I don’t want any more diversity of colors
The same ornaments are extend on the bottom of the wings, their boundary line is matched to long feathers, and even though the ornament feathers are much smaller, their direction must also be parallel to the long feathers they hold.
So finally, I got close to the end of the feathers. I glued darker wooden feathers in sideburns form. In between of them I glued a beak made from oak, which color is slightly gray enough to distinguish between dark and light feathers.
It’s a pity that the most of the hassle has been to make eyes that look insufficiently similar to a real bird. Today, as I recall how I did it, I think I would have succeeded in making it better if I had to cut off the eye sockets before. In nature it allows the bird to look better downwards. I wanted to make the whole appearance out of wood, so I made eyes from the same material, but first of all I painted it in black.
The sculpture looks nice, but in order to maintain it’s beauty, it needs to be properly set on something. I wanted to plant it on a small debarking pine tree branch, which is very easy to clean, and it is as light as the bird’s feathers. I carefully drilled two holes in the branch with the same diameter like bamboo sticks in the bird’s legs. I glued both bamboo sticks in the legs and on the twig. When the glue dried out, I have glued fingers from a light tree-tied ribbon and nails from a dark color tree.
To make bird stand still on the shelf, I made a simple wooden pedestal with a drilled hole in it, the direction of which is sufficiently matched to the twig so that the bird would look straight ahead and would be vertical itself.
Of course, the direction of the hole was not ideal, so I adjusted it with rasp and glued in the right position. Also on the same pedestal I attached a wooden strip and paper with a printed note. When the glue dried out, I checked it for the last time from all sides, scratched excess glue and sticking wood dust.
It’s time to varnish all sides of the falcon so that feathers would shine, and the color of the feathers would be sharper.
I’ve varnished it with brush. Firstly I have started to varnish against the feathers line, so that I would be able to smeared every corner of the feathers and then I’ve covered all the feathers. This way I ensured that no varnish drops will be left, because those drops are bigger then one feather.
When varnish dried out, I’ve glued scrap of felt so that pedestal would be save from scratching the table and hide a hole for a slicker.
I have never seen such work as this, therefore I decided to mark it with my personal logo and I specified the year of production. I varnished logo to keep it in intact too.
The work is done. Here are some other photos I want to show you how it looks. I heard once that the most difficult work in creating the sculptures is to portray the act, the movement, it’s moving direction and how the move will continue. I hope I succeeded!
Please rate, comment and feel free to ask any questions, suggestions, tips, ideas on how to use this art technique with wooden sticks. Feel free to share this post and I would be very interested to be linked to others who make similar art.