Happy New Year guys. May your troubles last as long as my New Year’s resolutions, which have already flown out the window 😉 Talking about flying, our Yakisugi junk birds were a huge hit with our friends, but not everyone owns or wants to use a jigsaw, so I thought I’d share an easy tutorial to make a polystyrene ball bird with rusty detail.
This cute little ball bird can be made in a morning and doesn’t require any fancy tools either?
To make the polystyrene ball look less polystyrene-ish I covered it with our homemade texture paste.
So, in this tutorial I’ll show you how to make a ball bird, and how you can mix up a batch of your own texture paste, using common household ingredients.
What you need
For the bird
- Polystyrene ball
- Florist wire
- Craft paint
- Rusty metal bits
- Feathers (cruelty-free if you can find them)
- 2 x Wooden beads
- Wooden skewer
- Piece of wood or interesting branch
- Two wood screws
For the texture paste
- PVA Glue
- Texture additive
You can use cornflour, starch, Plaster of Paris, or baby powder as an additive. Play sand works well too.
I’ll share how to make the texture paste first and then use the paste to make the ball bird.
How to make texture paste
The additive you use will determine how rough or smooth the final effect will be. Play sand gives the texture paste a very rough, grainy finish, while with cornflour, baby powder, and starch the finish is smoother. You can even use cold charcoal ash. My favorite is Plaster of Paris. It has a slightly rough texture, dries really quickly and you can sand it afterward. Most of our faux concrete creations are made using Plaster of Paris. To make the texture paste you’ll need a 1:1 ratio of glue to additive.
If you’re mixing a batch of texture paste using Plaster of Paris, make smaller batches because it will dry out before you can use it all. The other additives stay wet and workable for at least an hour, or however long it takes your PVA glue to dry. Mix the glue and additive well. You’ll know it’s ready once the paste holds its shape.
If you want texture paste that cracks when it dries, add some craft paint to the mixture. The more paint you add the more cracks 😉 For my polystyrene bird, I mixed 2 tablespoons of Plaster of Paris, 2 tablespoons of PVA glue, and 1/2 a teaspoon of white acrylic paint to end up with this mixture.
You can store the texture paste in an airtight container unless you used Plaster of Paris as an additive. Then it’s best to apply it immediately. Okay, let’s use some of this stuff to make a cute ball bird.
How to make a polystyrene ball bird
Insert a wooden skewer into the middle, center of the polystyrene ball. The skewer serves two purposes. It helps keep the texture paste off your hands when you apply it and will support the beak when we add it later.
To make it easier to apply the texture paste, stick the skewer into a scrap piece of polystyrene. We did the same when we made our giant bead garland.
Paint the ball with white acrylic paint. This step is optional, but polystyrene can do funny things when it comes into contact with glue.
Use a sponge or old paintbrush to apply the texture paste all over the polystyrene ball.
Leave the ball to dry completely.
Once dry, trim the flat end of the skewer with a pair of sharp scissors or wire cutters.
You only want a small piece (about 2 cm or an inch) sticking out of the polystyrene ball. We’ll be using that little piece for the beak.
Making the Beak
Cut a rectangular shape from your rusty metal. If you don’t have any scrap metal bits, you can use sturdy cardboard instead or make a beak from clay. Bend the rectangle in half.
Place the bent rectangle on the skewer and eyeball how to trim it into a beak shape.
Place the beak to one side.
Making the legs
Cut two pieces of florist wire about 3 times as long as what you want the legs to be.
Fold the wire in half and then bend the wire on either side of the “half bend” as shown below to create feet.
Fold the leg portion over and twist the wire together. Repeat for the second leg.
Use wood screws to attach the legs to a piece of scrap wood.
Painting or glazing the polystyrene ball bird
I wanted my little polystyrene ball bird to resemble clay so I used oil paint and turpentine to glaze the textured ball. You can paint or glaze her to match your decor style.
Wait for the paint to dry completely and then sand lightly to expose some of the layers.
Once you’re happy with the look, you can finish up and assemble the polystyrene ball bird.
Finishing up and adding some feathers
Glue the rusty metal beak onto the skewer.
My polystyrene ball bird has feathers on her head and her bottom. To add the feathers to the polystyrene ball, put a dollop of glue inside a wooden bead and insert some feathers.
Glue the beaded feathers on the ball bird’s bottom ……
…. and on her head 😀 Stick two rusty thumbtacks on either side of her beak for eyes. If you can’t find rusty thumbtacks, you can use this quick faux rusting technique to make some.
Place the bird on top of the legs to get an idea of where to make the holes. Use a skewer to make two holes and insert the wire legs. And that’s it, your polystyrene ball bird is finished.
I think a family of birds would look really cute too. What do you think? Would you add a textured and feathered polystyrene ball to your decor?
If you like the idea of making a polystyrene ball bird, don’t forget to pin it for later.
Sharing is caring
Creative things you can do with homemade texture paste
- Alter bottles to create tiny fairy worlds;
- Create a pitted moonscape effect by adding charcoal to the recipe;
- Mimic bark to make this Spirit of the Forest;
- Dress up a plastic mannequin in faux concrete;
- Or use different mixtures to disguise boring cardboard
Oh and if you’re looking for some of the things we used in this post, we’ve got you covered. Disclosure: Clicking on the links below, means we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us make more amazing crafts to share with you 😉
And if you prefer to buy rather than DIY, then maybe these beauties will appeal.
And as always, wishing you a wonderful, crafty week filled with lots of love. Thank you for popping in for a visit.