This idea came about when I was working on my Black Capped Chickadee garland. Because of their name, I just kept envisioning those birds wearing a backwards black baseball cap, but I couldn’t quite figure out how I wanted to turn that into a paper craft. Everyone has heard of paper dolls, right? I wanted to make paper birds.
Several weeks later, on our usual morning walk, a neighborhood Robin kept running in front of us, looking back as if we were stalking him.
Side note: Why do birds do that? If I could fly, I would definitely do that instead of running. Although truth be told, I’d rather do just about anything than run 🙂
Mr. SuzerSpace made some comment about us being in the bird’s “hood” (if I remember correctly he flashed some fake gang sign to make me laugh) and now I had two funny (at least to me) bird ideas rolling around in my head, so it was time to act.
In Adobe Illustrator
I like to work in Adobe Illustrator because I’ve used it for years, but this could be done in any drawing program you are comfortable in.
First I browsed around on the internet for a good basic bird shape. I wanted something with very large details, because I was going to set these up kind of like layered paper dolls where the details created the different bird types.
Once I found a couple, I morphed it into something to use as my guide. I can’t really draw anything from scratch, but if I can see the shapes that are used to create something, I can draw them and put them together in Illustrator.
After I drew the basic bird shape, I drew in and colored the pieces that would be needed to turn one into a Red Robin and the other into a Black Capped Chickadee. For that one, I also added a backwards black cap.
Using the Pathfinder tools in Illustrator, I was able to create the cutting files I’d need to make the two birds. I exported this file as a DXF because the basic version of Silhouette Studio can’t use an Adobe Illustrator file, but it has no problem with a DXF format.
In Silhouette Studio
In Silhouette Studio, I set up my Design Page as 12 x 12, cutting with a 12 x 12 Cameo mat.
In reality, I’m going to cut these pieces from 6 x 6 card stock, but this is a neat trick I learned where if you place your artwork on the Design Page grid carefully, and line up the paper to match on the mat, you can cut more than one color at a time.
As you can see from my photo, if you are even more careful with your placement, you can use up scrap paper.
After I cut all the pieces and weeded them, I layered them and glued them up with a glue stick. I glued each one of those down to a piece of white cover stock that was cut to fit the opening of two frames I already had.
Pro tip: Make artwork the size of standard frames so you don’t have to pretend like you are going to get custom frames made. I say “pretend” because I think most people are like me and while I have good intentions of getting things framed, the truth is if I can’t just grab a frame off the shelf at the craft store or Ikea, it is never going to make it onto the wall.
I’m not a big fan of my own handwriting, so I cut the words for each in black vinyl and adhered that below the bird image.
Once they were assembled I had my own custom bird artwork, perfect for hanging. I have them on my entryway hall, near a big mirror that has my paperclip feet birds perched on it.