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Bird House Craft

rustic birdhouses art
Julie Toy

How to make our hollow, horizontal birdhouse:

1. Ask your child to remove the plastic lid from the empty coffee can and set it aside. Using the coffee can as a stencil, trace a circle on a sheet of birch bark with your child. Repeat, this time using the plastic lid as the stencil, and cut out both circles.

2. Moisten one sheet of birch bark with water, and gently wrap it around the coffee can. Allowing the ends to overlap by about 1", trim the excess bark using cuticle scissors (or any other small, sharp pair of scissors). Also trim the sides of the bark to the length of the can, leaving no overlap. Have your child help you place a large rubber band over each end to secure the bark in place. Let the bark dry overnight, or blow it dry with a hair dryer to save time.

3. Slide the coffee can out from the dry bark and set it aside. Turn the cylinder on its side, like a tunnel, with the overlapped bark centered on top. Punch a hole through the overlapped bark at each end with the hole punch, 1/2" from the edge.

4. Help your child thread the 24" piece of cord through a hole at one end only.

5. Remove the rubber bands with your child, and glue the 1" overlap in place. Carefully secure with large hairpins or clothespins. Thread the piece of cord along the interior of the bark and through the hole at the opposite end of the cylinder, leaving an equal length of cord hanging from each hole.

6. Help your child spread glue along the inside of the cylinder and slide the coffee can back in place. Wrap with rubber bands to secure, and let the bark dry for an hour.

7. While it's drying, glue the can-size circle of bark to the bottom of the can. To make the doorway, help your child cut out a circular hole with a 2" diameter approximately 1" from the top of the remaining circle of bark. Lay the circle of bark over the plastic lid, and have your child trace the cut-out circle. Cut the same-size hole out of the lid. Glue the circle of bark onto the lid so that the doorway cutouts line up. About an hour later, when the glue is completely dry, help your child press the lid onto the front of the can.

8. To make a perch, measure 1" down from the bottom of the doorway and punch a hole into the front of the birdhouse. Ask your child to stick the narrow twig through the hole, pushing it 2/3 of the way inside the house.

9. To hang the birdhouse, tie the cord ends securely around a low-hanging branch in your yard. Then start birdwatching!

What you'll need

  • 12-ounce coffee can with plastic lid
  • 2 sheets of birch bark, approximately 18" by 9" ($6.50/sheet at B&J Florist Supply: 212-564-6086; 212-564-6087)
  • pencil
  • Water
  • ruler
  • cuticle scissors or other sharp scissors
  • large rubber bands
  • hair dryer
  • hole punch X 24" piece of cord
  • large hairpins or clothespins
  • strong craft glue
  • narrow twig, about 6" long

rustic birdhouses art pg2
Julie Toy

How to make our hollow, vertical birdhouse:

1. Ask your child to remove the plastic lid from the empty coffee can. Moisten one sheet of birch bark with water, and wrap it around the coffee can. Allowing the ends to overlap by about 2", trim the excess bark using cuticle scissors (or any small, sharp pair of scissors). Also trim the sides of the bark to the length of the can, leaving no overlap. Place a large rubber band over each end to secure the bark in place. Let the bark dry overnight, or blow it dry with a hair dryer to save time.

2. Once the bark has dried, turn the can right side up with the overlapped section facing back. Use a pencil to trace a circle with a 2" diameter approximately 1 1/2" from the top of the can. Slide the can out from the bark cylinder, and cut out the circle. (This will be the birdhouse doorway.) Remove the rubber band from one end, and glue the overlapped bark in place. Help your child repeat on the other end. Secure with large hairpins or clothespins, and wait at least an hour for the glue to dry.

3. When dry, stand the bark cylinder on one end with the doorway centered and facing front. On one side, create a pair of holes with the hole punch 1" apart and 1/2" from the top of the cylinder. Repeat on the other side. (You'll use the holes to hang the birdhouse.) Then cut the 24" length of cord into two 12" pieces, and thread each one through one of the pairs of holes, leaving equal lengths of cord hanging from each hole.

4. Take another sheet of birch bark and help your child trace 2 circles of equal size, using the coffee can as a stencil. Make sure the circles are at least 3" apart. Measure 1" from the first circle's edge and make a small mark at each of the 4 compass points. Connect the marks to form an outer circle, creating a 1" margin around the original pencil line. Repeat with the second circle. Cut out both circles along the outside margin.

5. Using the pizza or pastry cutter, score the bark along the pencil mark of the interior circle. (Do not cut through the bark; just make a dent along the pencil line so the bark will fold easily.) Around the perimeter of the interior circle, cut side-by-side triangular tabs that extend to the outside margin, with 1 1/2" bases along the scored pencil mark. The bases should be touching, creating a starburst pattern. Gently fold the tabs inward along the scored crease with your child, and repeat with the second circular cutout.

6. Dab a small amount of glue on the outside of each tab on both circular cutouts. Insert one circle "drum-like" into the top opening of the cylinder, stopping when the crease meets the cylinder edge, and insert the other into the bottom opening. Place a rubber band around each end and another around the length of the cylinder to hold the top and bottom in place. While waiting for the glue to set, you can create the bird perch. Measure 1/2" from the bottom of the doorway and punch a hole into the front of the birdhouse. Ask your child to stick the narrow twig through the hole, pushing it 2/3 of the way inside the house.

7. Once the glue has dried, tie the cord ends together to create two straps on either side of the birdhouse and hang from a low-hanging branch in your yard.

What you'll need:

  • 12-ounce coffee can with plastic lid
  • 2 sheets of birch bark, approximately 18" x 9" ($6.50/sheet at B&J Florist Supply: 212-564-6086; 212-564-6087)
  • water
  • ruler
  • cuticle scissors (or any sharp scissors)
  • large rubber bands
  • hair dryer
  • pencil
  • strong craft glue
  • large hairpins or clothespins
  • hole punch
  • 24" piece of cord
  • pizza or pastry cutter
  • narrow twig, about 6" long

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