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Project Information

Meet Woody Woodfeathers, a part of the aRt BiRd flock at Oconee County Cultural Arts Foundation.
He started out life as a fledgling Muslin aRt BiRd made by (ViVi) OCAF member volunteers for the arRtBiRd fundraiser. (See fifth picture)

I took some ideas from the fan carving world and rived out shaped feathers for the birds. Still it took an inordinate amount of time to create these birds, but I'm very pleased with the result.

I turned and solder-gun heat-bent some 1/8 spruce dowels to insert into the body and to mount the wing spars on to. The bent dowels give the wings a little camber. (HINT: Bamboo skewers don't take too well to the heat and bending - hence the hand turned spruce dowels.) The wing spars and tail socket are hand carved from Basswood and then slotted to receive the feathers with a dremel tool and about a 1mm dentistry bit. They were then drilled w/ an 1/8" bit to receive the 1/8 dowels. The muslin body got a sort of hand-sewn serging around the dowel holes for the wings. The dowel holes were just slit w/ an exacto knife and the serging and E6000 glue keeps it together. Then the dowels were slid through the holes and (with much difficulty) through the synthetic fiber stuffing. The top of the muslin tail was cut off, whereupon the tail socket was hand sewn into the bird.

The beak was carved out of walnut with a flange and spike to hold it inside the muslin body once it was sewn back around it. It took some careful seam ripping and hand sewing for the beak and tail socket… I had to redo the tail on this one- the first time around was quite sloppy.

Making the feathers was probably the easiest part of all this. I took some 3/4×3/4 rough sawn Walnut and Alder blanks, shaped them with the bandsaw, sanded to refine the shapes, then soaked them in water for a couple days. I then sharpened up a cheap paring knife with a single bevel to make a riving knife, the rived off feathers at about 1mm thick. I collected them in old medicine bottles until I had enough. Most of them were curled one direction. So since they're not symmetrical about half of them were re-soaked and bent the other way with some weight from a couple of old splitting maul heads. Once they were dried (in the microwave - DO NOT tell my wife!) and dry fit, I glued them into the wing spars and tail sockets. Some careful paring and fitting was necessary to mimic real feather patterns.

I also hand turned the eyes out of Blackwood and Alder with a little barbed spike on the inside to help hold it in. I just punched that through the cloth and a little E6000 and the barb holds it it nicely.

I played with making a crest, but it looked too much like punk rocker hair to suit me. I did figure out how to make it so it wouldn't break though. Maybe next time. If there is one.

I also played with the idea of gluing a whole bunch of feathers onto the body, but discarded that idea because it made him look too much like an armadillo. Maybe another time… So I just painted the body a neutral brown to match the Walnut, and called it done.

These were a LOT of work. Worth it though to help the local art guild. But maybe I'll win the prize money!



· Registered
11,255 Posts
Cool project, well done. Good luck! Or do we say break a leg, or break a carving knife?

· Registered
122 Posts
Amaizing technic, amaizing project.Very unique sculpture

· Registered
2,584 Posts
Interesting story in the making. Excellent job.