Some birds seem to just get us humans, so to speak. There will be individuals, that interact with us on their own terms. They learn our habits, evaluate advantages and assess our risk factor. Before long, us humans give them names and a routine of interaction is established.
One of my family had just such a relationship with a blackbird. He called the bird Blackie. The bird learnt to trust his human and would come to be fed when called. He was quite a character. Every time we visited, we heard more of this blackbird’s antics.
Blackie raised several clutches of little blackbirds, over the years. Always keeping his nests in close proximity to the dwelling of his human friends. Then one day, he didn’t turn up. No-one knows what happened. His adult offspring are still around, but not Blackie.
So I decided to make Blackie. A young version. Why not?
To start, I used pipe cleaners to form the frame. Makes it easier to shape and re-shape, I find. The white is from a Jacob sheep fleece which forms the base. It is springy and felts up to be a firm structure.
I felted the base of the body, tail and the head separately and fitted them into the pipe cleaner frame, then felted more white fleece over the top, until the pipe cleaners were hidden and I had the right shape.
Next the black. I kept the length long, so it covered the whole length of the body. It was at this stage I knew I was getting the shape right. It’s very difficult stabbing a needle into something thats starting to look like a living creature.
The legs are wire, covered in brown fleece. I used silk filaments to give the impression of wings folded back along the body.
The eye is a felted circle of yellow, with an inner brown circle. I added a touch of white, for a sparkle in the young blackbird’s eyes. Giving him character. The beak was a mixture of orange and yellow, that I hand mixed, to avoid a solid block of orange.
I took these photos, to check the shape. Afterwards, I thinned down the tail, added shoulder definition, flattened his back and chin. Totally forgot to take a final photo.
Blackie has now been gifted. I could have played with the shape for longer. I wonder if I would ever be totally happy with it. Probably best that he’s gone to live somewhere else.