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Put a Bird on It Meaning and Mixed-Media Bird Crafts

From the Cloth Paper Scissors Team, by Barbara Delaney

Other icons seem to come and go, but for some reason birds continue to be very popular; they are everywhere! Whether you pick up a book, search through a gallery, or shop for a purse, there will be birds. What is the draw? What's the attraction?

Put a Bird on It with a Fabric Bird Pattern from The Artful Bird Book

Well, it could be because birds symbolize a lot of different things: flight, freedom, nice weather, motherhood, and a variety of attributes, depending on the type of bird. For instance, doves symbolize peace, a peacock connotes vanity; an owl is believed to imply intelligence. Robins are harbingers of spring. And an eagle symbolizes courage and strength, to name a few.


Birds often have special, personal meaning for people, too, not connected to legend or fables. Seeing a formation of geese in the sky portends fall. And the sweet song of the Chickadee means warm weather is on its way. The cardinal is often called the Christmas bird and is a welcome burst of color during the winter months. Some birds have religious references and others garner meaning by their color or song. Doves represent the Trinity to Christians. Native American tribal names, totems, and other symbols have a lot of bird references, too. While the literal "Put a bird on it" meaning is somewhat simple, to put an image of a bird onto any item, it's grown into a popular and entertaining trend in recent years.

The phrase "Put a bird on it" has become so popular, there are memes spoofing this trend. The most popular of these is a sketch that was done on Portlandia in 2011. Portlandia is an award-winning satirical TV series based in Portland, Oregon. In the "Put a Bird on it" episode, characters Bryce and Lisa descend on a local home decorating shop and decide to put a bird on all of the items in the shop to "make them pretty." Many of their birds were cutouts or decals that were adhered to bags, cards, lamp shades, and more. Bryce stenciled a bird on a teapot and both Bryce and Lisa helped stitch a bird on a pillow. But the "pretty" was destroyed by the end of the episode. However, it was a fun romp . . . and very funny.

There are many, many ways to "Put a bird on it" with bird crafts! Mixed-media artists rarely settle for simple or ordinary, so here are a few of our favorite ways to create decorative birds and bird designs. Plus, as a special offer for bird lovers everywhere, we're offering 10% off your next purchase when you enter coupon code SAVELP at checkout!*

*One use per customer, final discounts will be displayed within the cart for qualifying items. Discount not valid on pre-orders, value packs, subscriptions, and 3rd party products. Other exclusions may apply.

Bird Designs: Birds 12x12 Stencil

Birds 12 x 12 Inch Stencil

Stencil it!

How about using stencils to create a bird pattern? Use paint, paint sticks, watercolor pencils, or even markers to create bird designs on paper or fabric or even wood. Create colorful and interesting backgrounds, use stenciled fabric to create pillows, aprons, or other useful or decorative items, or just enjoy the bird image itself.

Mask it!

Cut out a simple bird image from paper or cardstock and use it as a mask. Using a gel plate, lay some paint, one color or many, onto the gel plate and spread it over the surface of the gel plate with a brush or brayer. Position the bird cutout on the plate, place a piece of paper on top, and rub over the surface of the paper to make the print. Use your hands or use a brayer to get a nice, smooth print.

If you love incorporating our feathered friends into mixed-media, you’re going to love this book. With bird craft ideas using mixed-media and jewelry making techniques, this exciting book will help you explore all sorts of bird projects and themes. Crafty Birds is sure to become your go-to resource for bird art! Plus, get 10% off this incredible book when you enter the coupon code SAVELP at checkout!*

Discover new ways to put a bird on it when you order this book.

Art by Barbara Delaney. Learn how to make a fabric or felt bird pattern.

Hand stitch it!

Create a simple fabric bird pattern by outlining a simple bird shape on fabric or canvas and hand stitch the outline, like they did on the pillow in the Portlandia video. A simple running stitch would do the trick. Or get more intricate and stitch in all of the features.

Sew it!

Make a flat fabric or felt bird pattern to cut out and put on all your favorite accessories, or how about using a fabric bird pattern to make a three-dimensional bird with some special fabrics? It's easier than you think to learn how to make fabric birds. Here a small wren was made from a fabric bird pattern by our very own Barbara Delaney, based on a design from The Artful Bird. The patterns are provided right in the book and are very easy to follow (you can also download the book for instant access and get 10% off when you enter coupon SAVELP at checkout*). And there are 16 birds to choose from! The lark, flamingo, wren, penguin, hen and chick, and owl are just a few of the many colorful feathered-friend options. Pick a bird, large or small, and make it your own with the fabrics and colors you choose. Simple wire legs complete the bird, enabling him to stand on his own.

Art by Christine Lehto. Upcycle Bird Crafts: Bulbs to Birdees from Cloth Paper Scissors March/April 2012

Stamp it!

Carve a simple bird shape in a carving block or make a simpler stamp using some fun craft foam. Add details like wings and feathers with simple tools. Stamp the image onto paper, canvas, or fabric. All kinds of bird craft ideas can be dreamed up from there. I'm thinking book marks, mini canvases, gift cards and bags, etc.


Recycle some lightbulbs into colorful birds
like Christine Lehto did in the March/April 2012 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Masking tape, wire, clay, and some colorful paints bring the bird to life (see image at right).

Mixed-media artists can paint, sculpt, or draw birds, too.

In this video Cloth Paper Scissors shares art inspired by the Portlandia spoof. You'll see tags, collages, prints, journal pages, watercolors, stencils, and lots more bird craft ideas.

From stitched and decorative birds to learning how to make fabric birds, there's so much of our feathered friends to explore. What will you put a bird on?

Whether you sew, make jewelry, or create mixed media, there’s so much you can put a bird on! (And don't forget your 10% discount* with coupon code SAVELP)

Decorative Birds: Bird Collage Tea Towels eProject

Felt Bird Pattern: Beginner's Guide to Needle Felting Book

Fabric Bird Pattern: Tweet Note + Photo Holder eProject

Bird Craft Ideas - Jewelry: Birds and Butterflies eBook

Bird Collage Tea Towels
Dress up premade tea towels with machine embroidery and a fabric bird pattern or two. Designed by Kevin Kosbab.
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Beginner's Guide to Needle Felting
Learn how to make a needle felt bird pattern plus five other felted projects.
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Tweet Note + Photo Holder
Discover how to make fabric birds that are both decorative and functional. Designed by Carol Zentgraf.
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Best of Stringing: Birds and Butterflies
Create intriguing jewelry featuring your favorite birds and butterflies.
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