These little birdhouse pendants are so sweet! Imagine making half a dozen or so for a fun charm bracelet, maybe with the addition of a little bell and a few bird charms. Like most miniature versions of big things, many birdhouses are just cute little cottages made to make us smile. If you know the song by They Might Be Giants, go ahead and sing along as you make your own little mixed-media birdhouse pendants. Bees, sunbonnets, birdhouses…It all makes me long for spring, and the weather is just turning cold!
Not to put too fine a point on it,
Say I’m the only bee in your bonnet,
Make a little birdhouse in your soul.
by Heather Alexander, originally published in Handcrafted Jewelry 2011
- 3/4″ thick piece of wood (maple)
- 1 silver 1/2″ eye screw
- 1 vintage postage stamp
- assorted paper ephemera, 1″ square or larger
- rubber stamp(s) and ink
- decoupage medium
- spray sealer
- black permanent marker or paint
- table saw or jigsaw
- drill with 1/16″ and 1/4″ drill bits
- 1/4″ round hole punch
- 100-grit sandpaper or sanding block
Tip: Try making these birdhouses using dice as the body of the house. Drill the door hole on the number one (1) side. No awl is necessary because there’s already a perfectly centered guide.
1. Cut the wood parts (or see Resources below to buy precut pieces and skip to Step 4). To cut the house body, set the table saw guide to cut a 1/2″ strip, remembering to allow a little extra space to account for the 1/8″ that the blade takes off during cutting. Following all necessary safety precautions, turn on the saw and cut the strip. Keeping the same setting on the saw, cut a 1/2″ piece from the 1/2 × 3/4″ strip.
2. Cut the roof: Set the table saw guide at a 45-degree angle. Using the remaining wood strip from Step 1, cut one end (1/2″ side) at a 45-degree angle. Turn the strip over and cut the same end again, forming a triangle.
3. Sand the wood parts: Use the sandpaper to smooth any rough or sharp corners and edges.
4. Make a hole for the bail: Use the awl to make an indentation in the center of the peak of the roof. With one hand, grip the roof with a pair of pliers.
With your other hand, grip the drill fitted with the 1/16″ bit. Drill into the indentation. It’s okay to drill all the way through the roof. Use the sandpaper to sand the edges and underside of the roof until smooth. You’ll add the eye screw later.
5. Make a hole for the door: Use the awl to make an indentation in the center of one of the short faces of the house body. Use the drill with the 1/4″ bit to drill a hole over the indentation that is about 1/8″ deep. Use the black marker to darken the hole.
6. Decorate the house: Choose a stamp, photo, or other paper ephemera for the front of your house, making sure the paper ephemera is larger than the surface. Use the hole punch to punch a hole in the center of the paper to accommodate the door.
Use the paintbrush to apply a thin layer of decoupage medium over the front of the house. Put the paper on top of the layer of decoupage medium, making sure to line up the holes. Use the paint brush to apply another layer of decoupage medium over the paper. Let it dry. When dry, use scissors to trim the paper edges as close to the wood edges as possible.
7. Decoupage the sides of the house: Repeat Step 6 three times for the sides and back of the house, omitting the hole-punching.
8. Decoupage the roof pitch: Fold the vintage postage stamp in half. Use the paint brush to apply a thin layer of decoupage medium to the top of the roof. Next, place the stamp on top of the roof, and then apply another layer of decoupage medium over the stamp. Let it dry.
9. Stamp the remaining surfaces: Ink up your rubber stamp, then press one roof end onto the stamp. Use a different stamp to stamp the other roof end and the bottom of the house.
10. Attach the roof to the house body: Use glue to attach the roof to the top of the house. Press together firmly, making sure the roof is perfectly centered on the house. Check it again a few minutes later to make sure it hasn’t shifted. Let dry. Use spray sealer to coat the entire house. Let dry.
11. Lastly, attach the bail: Use your finger to locate the hole created in Step 4 for the bail. Screw the eye screw securely into the hole, using pliers if necessary for better grip. String the pendant onto a ball chain or other finished necklace to wear.
Heather Alexander is a self-taught artist and mom living in Olympia, Washington. Being home has inspired Heather to find ways to create using inexpensive and recycled resources. She loves to peruse thrift shops and antiques stores for her next inspiration.
Wood birdhouse pieces and kits (and finished pendants) were originally sold by Art by Heather. You can find similar supplies from your local craft or hardware store.
This article has been updated since it was first published in January 2013.