How to Make a Whimsical Collaged Bird

Some mixed-media projects just make you feel happy. On the cover of the May/June 2018 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, you’ll see an inset photo of a wonderful collaged bird, created by UK artist and author Clare Youngs. Being a fan of her work for a long time, I was over the moon when she agreed to do a project for this issue. When she suggested birds, I of course said yes. I know birds have become somewhat of a cliché in our world, but I am an unapologetic bird lover, and even more so now. Her birds are a pure expression of joyfulness.

collaged bird

These whimsical articulated creatures are made with hand-painted papers, and the process of creating painted and stamped patterns was so fun and rewarding. In fact, it inspired me to do more patterning in my sketchbooks and art journals, and I love the results.

To start the project, I assembled some plain-ish papers, gouache paints and paintbrushes, black permanent ink, a dip pen, some rubber scraps and carving tools, and inkpads. Clare offers great techniques for patterning paper using ink and paint, and I love her approach of using anything that will make a mark, including paintbrushes and a pencil eraser. Nothing fancy.

Scraps of paper, a little paint, and some pens are all that’s needed to make a beautiful collaged bird.

Her idea of using a pencil eraser reminded me that I had some rubber scraps left over from a previous project, and I thought those would make great small patterning stamps. Truth be told, I actually only carved two, the other three I cut into shapes with a utility knife. In 15 minutes I had five brand new stamps! The great thing about simple shapes is they can make countless fun patterns, used alone or in combination.

Making your own stamps to create designs and patterns is easy—just cut rubber into simple shapes with a utility or craft knife.

I decorated as many papers as I could in the time I had. This part of the process was relaxing and rewarding. Here are some I made using gouache, as well as pen and ink:

Use gouache or acrylic paint to create abstract marks and designs on paper. Dip pens naturally produce lovely thick and thin lines with ink.

Here are more papers that incorporated gouache, as well as handmade stamps and inkpads. Quick tip: If there’s a pattern you really like, cut a swatch and glue it into a sketchbook or art journal. This way you’ll be able to recreate it easily. And don’t throw your rubber scraps away! Even the tiniest scraps make the best patterning stamps.

Sometimes the simplest patterns are the best.

One of the nice features of Clare’s article is that the template for the collaged bird is in the article. All you have to do is copy it at 100%, and you’re good to go. I traced the templates onto chipboard to make two birds, then reduced the template size to 60% and cut three smaller birds and wings from cardstock to use for an art journal page.

Full-size templates are included in the article for the collaged bird! Simply copy them and cut using scissors or a craft knife.

Using Clare’s birds as inspiration, I glued the papers in sections onto the chipboard pieces, leaving a little bit of an overhang on the edges. When the glue was dry, I trimmed them using a craft knife.

Audition the decorated papers before gluing them to the chipboard, or leave the combinations to chance.

These guys are ready to fly! I used a metal mini brad to attach the wings to the body, but make sure you read the article to see how Clare connects the pieces—her method is brilliant, and there’s no hardware necessary!

collaged bird
Make one collaged bird or a whole flock, and display them for a bright splash of pattern and color.

My art journal page with the smaller birds was inspired by the layout in the magazine. Can’t you see a whole flock of these on a wall, or strung together as a garland? They’re so perfect for spring and summer.

collaged bird
Shrink the template and add collaged birds to an art journal page.

Make a collaged bird—or several—and see for yourself how enjoyable this project is. The May/June issue is crammed with so many more great mixed-media techniques—you just have to see it for yourself. Take a stroll through our lookbook for a great preview!

Get up close and personal with Cait Sherwood, one of the artist contributors in the May/June 2018 issue, in this Q&A!

Get the full instructions for making these fantastic birds in the May/June 2018 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, and don’t miss the great art journaling projects!
Jodi Ohl shows you how to incorporate exciting techniques for gel plate printing that add depth to your collages in the video Collage Characters. 
Add meaningful symbols, motifs, and designs to collage and explore an array of materials in the book Collage Paint Draw by Sue Pelletier.
Discover playful inspiration, prompts, and techniques for your next collage art in Collage Unleashed by Traci Bautista.


Blog, Collage, Mixed-Media Techniques


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