Sunday, January 03, 2010

oriole family nest


For Christmas I made the Little Pea a toy orioles' nest with a family of orioles inside.

She likes to touch and squeeze them, especially the bright orange Papa Oriole. I think as she gets older she'll enjoy taking them out of the nest and putting them back in, over and over.

The inspiration for this toy was the Charley Harper silk screen of an oriole clinging to his nest in the wind. My first thought was how much the nest resembles a felted purse. His bold, 2-dimensional birds made me decide to use craft felt for the birds themselves, and sew a relatively 2-dimensional toy bird that was still soft and fun to clutch.


At first I had planned to make a bird house with lots of different kinds of birds inside, but as I started the planning I realized that I didn't want the Little Pea to think that an owl and a sparrow might live together harmoniously in the same house, so I opted for a bit more realism instead.

The nest and birds are all life-sized (more or less), and I tried to make the nest resemble what orioles really make, which is a shaggy pouch that incorporates whatever materials they can find nearby, and usually has some soft fluffy stuff near the bottom to insulate and cushion the eggs (and then the babies when they hatch).

It was a lot of fun to make, and I've decided that this was the prototype for more bird families to come. Next time I'm going to use felted sweater bits and needle-felting for the birds. As much as I like the poppy, paperlike quality of the craft felt, it's not a great material to work with, and I'm more comfortable working with wool. Besides, I'm not sure what kind of dye is used on craft felt, and my kid is sticking this thing in her mouth quite a bit.


Stay tuned for more hatchlings as spring approaches!


  1. That is the cleverest thing I've seen in a long time!!! I'm sure Little Pea will love these for years. :) Can't wait to see others! samm

  2. Do you know about the kids' book called "Little Pea"? My son loves it.

    Cute birdies!

  3. What a great idea! Very good project. I can't wait to see the next one.

  4. Has the wife of an ornithologist and a "realist" crafter, I really appreciate these. Great idea and beautiful work!

  5. oh my goodness! your banner is the exact same fabric as the curtains in my mom's house!

    and i love your little oriole nest. how cute and inventive@

  6. LOVE THIS! So cute!


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