Two of my best friends, Suzanna & Sarah, have been collaborating on a few different creative projects of late and dang, the outcomes have been amazing. Pre-Valentine's Day they hosted several "Love Birds" classes at Suzanna's newly open Binth Studio & Shop in Forest Park. The premise (as well as the materials) was simple: choose a raw paper-mache bird (made of newspaper and wire) and paint it however you like. And maybe give it to someone you love -- or keep it for yourself. Sarah constructed the birds out of old New York Times newspapers. She made them in different shapes, sizes and positions. You came into the shop and picked out your bird and got your supplies -- paint, a brush and a jelly jar of water. And she also set out different bird field guides so that if you wanted to make a realistic version of a bird, say, an American Goldfinch or a Chickadee, you'd have something to reference.
I think they had anticiapted this to be a mostly adult audience, but it turned out that most of the class was kids. And they were so great because, you know, kids don't tend to edit themselves on art projects, they just dive and get started. This energy helped me immensely because I tend to do just the opposite, Sometimes I get so stuck on what it's going to be, I just don't even get started at all. So I grabbed my bird, sat down next to two eight year-old boys and got started. Once the birds were done, we set them on another table to dry.
I mentioned that Sarah used the New York Times for the birds and so when I was choosing my "blank" bird, I came across one where the newsprint actually had all these teeny red lightbulbs on it. Sarah said that the article had something to do with "ideas." "Well," I said, "then I'm just going to have paint an Idea Bird. And so that's what I did. Being a writer and a lover of words and also being married to someone who feels the same, I also knew that I wanted some of the letters and words from the newsprint to show through the paint. And not having to paint a realistic, actual bird that you might see out your window, took tons of pressure off me and my creativity. And so here's my Idea Bird. I gave him to Ted for Valentine's Day.
Here's the lightbulbs up close. I love them.
I think I must have done an okay job, even if it isn't a "real" bird. Because as I was trying to take the shot of the lightbulbs, a certain feline friend named Ricky showed up to investigate.
And as if making this little bird wasn't sweet enough, while I was at the Binth Studio, Sarah came up to me and gave me this incredible Cardinal as a gift. "I want you to have this," she said. Notice the little fuzzy red sweater (hand knit by Sarah herself) and the tiny teeny buttons. I have had my eye on this Cardinal for more than a year. I first saw it when she was getting ready to have a bird "trunk show" at our frined Patti's store, The Sweden Shop. I just love its personality and in the real world of birds, I am a big fan of Cardinals. I love their flash of red in bare winter trees and how they mate for life and feed each other seeds. Ben shares my fondness for them and even knows their call. Anyhow, I was just blown away when Sarah gave me this. I think you can see why.
So I went home with two birds: one for my valentine and one for myself. Both handmade and made with love and attention. What a lovely thing. What a couple of love birds.
ps Sarah does sell her own unique painted birds at Binth, so if you're interested in taking home one of your own, head over to the shop. You might just come across something like this: