Realistic garden bird’s tutorial

Make your own gorgeous, realistic little birdies. They look great on bits of driftwood, on top of toppled books and standing on plant pots! Make them for yourself, for a wedding centrepiece, or as a beautiful gift for someone special.

Materials used –


Thin roll of masking tape

Plain kitchen roll

PVA or modge podge

Plain Flour*

Card (old cereal box)

A pack of 3mm or 4mm Black round glass beads (size of bead depending on size of bird)

Silver plated wire, diameter 0.4mm

Paints (acrylics or gouache are perfect but you could also use water colours)

White cotton thread

Thick sewing machine needle or something thick and pointy! (It will go blunt after a while though….sorry mam!)



Assorted Paint brushes

Old mustard jar

Metal nail file*



Images of the bird you want to make (Ie blue tit, finches etc)


1. Firstly, gather images of the bird you want to make and keep them to hand as a reference for when you are shaping the body and painting the details.

2. Mix up a small bowl of PVA, water and a tablespoon of flour. Whisk any lumps out with a fork. The consistency you are looking for is runnier than double cream….but thicker than single cream.

3. Tear a piece of newspaper and make an egg shape like in the picture above, and secure with small strips of masking tape. Next make a smaller oval shape, and secure it to the body with making tape. This is you rough bird body.

4. To make the beak, tear a couple of strips of masking tape. Stick it onto the head of the bird and manipulate it into a beak shape by pinching and twisting it. You will need about 4 to 5 small strips to make it fairly sturdy.

5. Now it’s time to cover the body in kitchen roll. Tear off little strips and dip them into your PVA/flour mixture and cover the whole body. Try not to thoroughly drench the kitchen roll. Smooth around the body with your finger tip. Pay attention to around the head and beak and make sure the papier mache isn’t to thick around this area.

6. Leave to dry on a radiator or airing cupboard until completely dry (normally takes a couple of hours) cover your remaining mixture with a plate to use for later.

7. Now your body has dried, its time to add a bit of shape to the head and beak. Where the eyes of the bird are going to be, press your thumbs gently into it, to make it look as if its the natural contours of the birds face. Then with your thumb nail, define around the beak pressing into it lightly. You can also use a metal nail file to give the beak a bit more shape (although only do this a little)

8.  Now it’s time to concentrate on the wings and tail. Draw a wing shape onto your cereal box card. Cut it out and trace around it to have another identical wing. Draw the tail (if your bird needs one) and cover them with the PVA/flour mixture and kitchen roll. These parts only need to be 2 strips thick each side really otherwise they look to bulky.

9. Start by attaching the tail (if required) to the bottom of the bird. Tear strips of kitchen roll and place across the stump of the tail, as in the picture below. Also do the same for underneath. Apply the wings in the same fashion, by holding the wings in place onto the body with strips. Leave to dry for a couple of hours

10. Now your body is completely dry it’s time to fix the eyes. Get your needle and make two holes either side of the face. Bird’s eyes usually face outwards rather than forwards. Make the hole slightly smaller than your bead. Add a small bit of PVA and press the eyes securely into place. It will take a couple of minutes to dry.

11. Now the fun part…painting! Using your images as a reference, choose the colours you are going to need. I always paint the beak first then the head moving up that way. It would probably be easier though, creating a base colour and adding the details and highlights gradually. Try to create and pick up all the detail in the face and wings as these stand out the most. Dont forget all the crevasses under the wings and tail too. Once you are pretty happy with your painted bird you can either leave it as it is or cover with a seal like matt modge podge or even PVA.

12. Last but not least we have to make the legs. Using your wire and pliers, cut two pieces of wite about …. each.  Manipulate the foot using your pliers and twist each toe for strength. At the other end of the leg, make a little hook. Using your cotton sewing thread, make a not around the hook. Twist the tread all around the leg and down to the foot, like in the picture below. There shouldn’t be much wire visible. Move your thread from the toes back up to the hook and make a not. Once you have done this, paint them (sometimes the thread can unravel on the toes but if this happens, when you paint them just twist the thread back around the toe and the paint should stick it back into place)

13) When your little birdy legs are dry, with your thick sewing needle make two holes into your birds underbelly. The feet should be more towards the head and the base nearer the bird’s bottom. The wire can be moved into any position. When you’re happy the legs look in the right place, add a bit of modge podge or PVA to secure them.

14) Yay…you’re done!!! Hope you enjoy making these.

(You can also make flying birds like swallows or hummingbirds…visit my flickr to see more paper birds. Just use wire for the beak of the hummingbird and secure with masking tape. When finished, make a small hole through the entire body and thread your cotton through, making a knot under the belly. With some plain card cut out a rectangle,, wrap the thread through and adjust the length of the cotton. Attach it to your ceiling with blue tac and hey presto…you have a flying bird!)

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4 Responses to Realistic garden bird’s tutorial

  1. Janet Larrew says:

    I found your birds while looking at the hippo on ultimate paper mache. I love them atot and I plan to try one very soon. I will share the results with you soon. I hope to make a sparrow. I live in Chicago area and used to do plaster crafts.. I made a set of partridges that looked real so hope to make some Scarlet Tangers and finches if possible.

  2. Pingback: Papier Marche, My Worm on a Hook… | Yarolli

  3. Pingback: Tweets, Birds and Papier Marche | Yarolli

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