Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How to Build a Bird

The Forrest Dweller Sculpture Garden is home to many large avian sculprures created in concrete and steel. Here is how I make them. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Working from a very rough sketch, I calculate the sizes of metal components that I will use. Using a band saw, I cut pieces of rebar and angle iron to form the armature or skeleton of the bird. Using a cutting torch, I cut wings from cold rolled sheet steel. These elements are welded, using a stick welder, into the armature.

I then cover the armature with chicken wire. This is important to the concrete adhering to the armature.

I mix a concrete composit of cement, peat moss and acrylic fortifyier into a mixture that looks and feels like clay that you would dig from a river bank. My procedure is published on my website ( The concrete is pushed into the the chicken wire to sculpt the shape of the bird. I make eyes from half marbles, and affix them into the bird's face.

The entire sculpture is them coated with a surface treatment. Here, I used a bronze metal coating from Sculpt Nouveux. The surface was then tarnished to produce a somewhat antique appearance.

These pieces are very heavy, so I often engineer them in more than one piece to be assembled at the display site. For this sculpture, I created a concrete rock to serve as the standard for the bird. First, I welded a strong armature.

Then, I sculpted a rock with holes to accept the feet of the bird.

Such bird sculptures are among my favorites to create.



Kate Ladd Art said...

Great photo of you and the bird!

Mariah said...

What a wonderful entry. It's really fun to see your process from idea to building to finished art. And, I agree with Kate, great photo of you and the bird!

skyprairie said...

are you saying you're an old bird?! love it............

Tracey Broome said...

Hey Forest, these are really beautiful!! Great portrait.
Wish I had those fun tools you have, I need to bring my grandmother's old metal swing over and get you to fix it for me!