Last year I wrote in this blog about how I purchased three unpainted birdhouses from various arts and crafts stores and painted them. This entry is sort of a sequel to that blog post.

Soon after I had put up my birdhouses I found an unpainted bird feeder in one of the same arts and crafts stores where I had gotten one of the unpainted birdhouses. I purchased that one immediately. In time I found two other bird feeders in different styles. So I had a new bird-related project for me to paint.

Except I got diverted by other things and I didn’t begin the first of the bird feeders until early November. The one thing I learned is that painting bird feeders is way more involved than painting birdhouses. That’s because, with birdhouses, I only had to worry about painting the outside and the roofs didn’t move on two of them. (The third one did have a moveable roof but that one is a thatched roof made from a wicker grass material that wasn’t supposed to be painted so it was no big deal.) I initially painted this gazebo bird feeder.

picture1

For inspiration on which color acrylic paints to use, I did a Google Image search. I ultimately decided to paint it in Titanium White and Parchment. Painting that one was a bigger challenge than I expected because I had to deal with a roof that was already attached to the rest of the structure with a rope. I had to constantly take the roof off the top and have it hanging down one of the sides (while making sure that the paint on that side was already dried) and take great care not to have the roof disturb what I had already painted. I thought about just untying that thick rope and remove the roof but I was afraid of not being able to attach it again so I decided to just deal with it and paint around that roof even if it did get in the way at times.

If all that wasn’t enough, the side windows were covered with this clear plexiglass material and I had to be careful not to get paint on it because it would’ve shown and the whole thing would’ve screamed “POOR SLOPPY PAINT JOB!” Had the bird feeder not come already pre-assembled, I would’ve worked much faster because I would’ve individually painted each piece, apply coats of varnish on each piece, then assembled the whole thing once everything dried. Painting this was a lot more work than I anticipated but it was worth it because I liked the results.

By the time I finished with the gazebo it was close to Christmas. I decided to take a break from painting bird feeders and I initially planned painting the other two sometime during that one week period between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

But then I didn’t do it. I basically procrastinated mainly because I had burned out on painting the first one. It wasn’t until the weather forecasters began warning about the upcoming Blizzard of 2016 in late January that I realized that I hadn’t finished the other two bird feeders. And I couldn’t put out the finished gazebo bird feeder because, in the rush to prepare myself for the storm, I had forgotten to buy bird seed. (I finally remembered the bird seed when the snow began to fell and I wasn’t about to risk an accident to buy bird seed.) Ultimately I whiled away my time being snowed in alone by painting the second of the two bird feeders, which is shaped like a barn.

picture2

I stuck with the basic red and black color pattern that is used in many real-life barns. The barn was a bit easier to paint than the gazebo except there were so many intricate parts that I had to paint and make sure that I didn’t inadvertently paint red in areas where I intended to paint black. I ended up using artist tape to help delineate the red and black areas, which helped me work much faster than if I didn’t use the tape at all. When I was close to being finished, I had an idea to paint something extra.

picture3

I originally thought about painting miniature Pennsylvania Dutch hexes that one tends to find hanging on barns in rural areas on the East Coast. But then I looked at some of the designs and I realized that many of them were way too intricate to do an accurate reproduction in miniature. (I would’ve have to buy very tiny brushes and spend at least two weeks painting each hex.) Instead I decided to paint horseshoes, which is another common barn decoration that’s frequently hung for good luck. At least painting miniature horseshoes was pretty quick and easy.

picture4

The one thing I learned about hanging horseshoes is that in some parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America, horseshoes are hung with the opening facing downward with the theory that the luck will rain on anyone who pass under it when entering or exiting a door. In the British Isles, the horseshoes are hung with the opening facing upwards because if they are hung the other way then the luck will run out. That is a pretty interesting fact. I ultimately opted for painting the horseshoes with the opening facing up because most hanging horseshoes I’ve seen were hung that way. Besides many of my ancestors have come from all four nations in the British Isles (England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales) so I decided to honor my heritage by painting the horseshoes the way I did.

This last bird feeder was a challenge in its own way. I purchased it because of the really awesome laser woodcutting design.

picture5

Since the design was one piece it was a bit of a challenge finding when to stop painting one area one color and to start painting that same area a different color. Granted I could’ve simply painted both sides of the laser design in one color but the results would’ve looked relatively dull compared to what I did. What I did was to use artist tape to decide on the borders for each color then painted that area that one color. I did just one color at a time. I also decided on a mostly cool color palette where I stuck to doing the butterfly in three different shades of blue with the vines and the rest of the bird feeder being done in three different shades of green. I broke up the cool palette by painting the flowers, buds, and stamens using warm colors like pink and yellow. I really like the results, which reminds me of some of Peter Max’s art.

picture6

I finally managed to finish the last of the bird feeders in mid-February but I didn’t finally hang them outside until last week mainly because I kept on forgetting to buy bird seed. At one point I thought about just waiting until the fall to hang them, especially when the weather started to reach the 50’s (such as on the day I visited the University of Maryland at College Park campus not too long ago). But then a cold front came in where the temperatures plummeted back to the low 30’s so I decided to try filling them with bird seed and hanging them outside on the last weekend in February. Here is what the feeders looked like once they were filled with bird seed.

picture7

picture8

picture9

Things were fine until the next morning when I noticed that the gazebo was in this position.

picture10

I have a feeling that a squirrel probably did that. In any case the gazebo was completely empty of bird seed and I’ve since put it into storage. (I replaced it with one of my birdhouses.) Since the weather has been alternating between being cold and being warm (which is usual for early spring in my area this time of the year), I’ve decided that I will leave the other two bird feeders hanging on the shepherd’s crooks until they are either all completely empty of bird seed or until March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day)—whichever comes first. Then I will put them into storage and replace them with my other two birdhouses for the spring and summer.

Last year I waited until Memorial Day weekend to hang up my birdhouses but no birds used them. I think it’s because I hung them pretty late in the spring when most of the birds had already done the hard part of finding a mate, finding a suitable place to build a nest, building the nest itself, laying the eggs, and keeping the eggs warm until the baby birds hatch. This year I’m going to hang them outside earlier. Maybe I’ll get a bird family to move in. Or maybe not. In either case they’ll look pretty decorative outside.

Advertisements