One of the classes I took last semester was Design Fundamentals, and one of the major assignments of the course was to design either a birdfeeder or birdhouse. When my instructor first told us about the assignment I wasn’t worried – I birdhouse couldn’t be too hard right? I mean, kids build them all the time in scouts and girl guides. It turns out I was a little misguided in my assumption of the project’s ease. Our projects had to be created out of materials that weren’t originally meant for either a birdhouse or feeder (this of course meant that we couldn’t buy a kit from the craft store and simply paint it – drat!).
Once I put my thinking cap on I came up with an idea I thought was pretty smart. My plan was to take a vintage suitcase and turn it into a birdhouse – I’d cut holes in it, and create vintage looking travel stickers depicting bird migration destinations. I ran into an unexpected problem however – have you ever tried to find a reasonably priced vintage suitcase in Toronto? I have, and I can tell you it’s not possible. I blame the hipsters.
Anyways, when it became apparent my genius (if I do say so myself) plan wasn’t going to work I had to come up with something else, and by then I had just a week to source materials and construct it. Unfortunately I faced a rather large problem – I had absolutely no idea what I was going to create. Searching the internet for inspiration was no help, so I did the only other thing I could think of – the weekend before the project was due I took an epic shopping trip to every thrift shop I could find between Toronto to Burlington looking for ideas.
I have no idea how many shops I went to. I bought random things here and there hoping I’d eventually be able to make them into something, but I still hadn’t had that ‘light bulb’ moment. Before heading back to Toronto I stopped in Ikea (on a Saturday afternoon – this should tell you how desperate for inspiration I was) and I found an item that finally looked hopeful.
I bought a white Skurar candle lantern and planned to turn it into a bird feeder. A few more stores over the next few days and I had all the rest of the materials I needed.
With just two days to complete the project I got started. I wish I could say I took process shots, but I was more worried about just completing the birdhouse which was worth 20% of my grade. The idea was to use the sippy cup to hold the seed and then attach it to the plate as the base of the feeder. The plate would hold the seed to also the birds to eat it, and give them a place to perch. The lantern would be tuned upside down over-top of the sippy cup to protect the seed from the elements and make it pretty. I also loved that the cut-out in the lantern would allow some of the colour of the sippy cup to shine thought – especially when it was sunny outside.
My first step was to drill a hole in the middle of the bottom of the lantern. I’d use that hole and the hole in the sippy cup lid where the straw would normally go to bolt the two pieces together with an eye bolt. The eye bolt would also be used to hang the bird feeder. Bolting the lid of the sippy cup to the lantern would allow the bird feeder to be easily refilled by simply unscrewing the cup bottom from its lid. My next step was to drill a series of holes around the base of the sippy cup to allow the birdseed to escape. I also drilled a hole in the middle of the bottom of the cup – my plan was to bolt the base plate to the bottom of the sippy cup. All of these steps, while a little time consuming were fairly straightforward and I started to believe my plan would work.
The last part of the plan was to drill through the dollarstore plate to allow it to be bolted to the bottom of the cup. I’ve drilled through some ceramic tile before so while I knew it would take some time I was confident it could be accomplished. I was wrong. I drilled, and drilled, and drilled, and drilled some more. My neighbours must have thought I was nuts. Over an hour later, and I’d only just managed to get through the plate but I still had hours of drilling left to make the hole big enough for the bolt. I gave up, and decided to take a chance with gluing the plate to the cup. I picked the plate up out of the sink where I was was drilling (I was using a bit of water to keep the bit cool), and started to dry it off.
I could have cried. There I was, on a Sunday night, and I’d just dropped and smashed the plate I’d just spent over an hour drilling, and I didn’t have a spare. Class was on Tuesday so I had just 24 hours to get another plate and hope and pray that gluing the plate would work as I no longer had any time to come up with an alternate plan.
Thankfully it turns out that two-part epoxy works really well at attaching plastic and ceramic together and my DIY bird feeder ended up looking like I had imagined it would. More importantly my bird feeder was appreciated by my instructor, and I got an 18/20 on the project.What do you think? Have you ever made a DIY birdfeeder? How did you do it?