Something For The Birds

Submitted by Michael Ely November 25th, 2011
Certifikitsch WinnerClassique d Camembert

For many years, my partner (Spider) and I have been building birdhouses as a hobby. The challenge is to make them as kitschy as possible. The other challenge is that we don’t use any glue, rather these birdhouses are all put together using nails, in some cases very tiny nails.

This first birdhouse is an old laundry shack. As you can see, we used a horseshoe over the door and on the side is a miniature washtub and washboard.

This is a boxcar birdhouse. The idea to build this one came to me in a dream, and I have never seen another boxcar birdhouse like it.

Spider hand-carved the schoolhouse steeple. As mentioned, we only use nails to build these birdhouses, and creating the flagpole and flag was a bitch. We had to use tiny, tiny nails.

We built this log cabin birdhouse just like a real log cabin. That is, we cut dowel rods to size and stacked them one by one.  The front porch posts are from our real life mesquite tree.

This dilapidated looking birdhouse was inspired by the real life shacks seen in Jerome, AZ, an old mining town built on the side of a mountain, where many of the old wooden buildings and houses are now falling apart and sliding down the slope.

This mission birdhouse is the only birdhouse I built entirely by myself, thus it is special to me.

This is a pueblo birdhouse. The ladder is fashioned out of twigs from our mesquite tree and straw.

This double-decker garden birdhouse features its own tiny birdhouse (a birdhouse with a birdhouse). I do most of the painting, and as you can see, my goal is to make each birdhouse look weathered and distressed (even tho they are made out of new wood).

We decided to collage this birdhouse. Cutting out all of the intricate butterflies from a magazine was very time consuming, but it was worth it. I think this birdhouse is gorgeous. This birdhouse also features its own mini birdhouse.

This barn birdhouse is one of my favorites.

Last, but not least….All of our birdhouses begin as a rough drawing on paper, and as you can see by the rough sketch below, the next birdhouse we are planning to build will be a Allee Willis birdhouse! I just hope I get the lipstick color right!

13 Responses to “Something For The Birds”

  1. Allee Willis

    LOVVVVVVVVVVVVVE these! I was giving this a Camembert by the third birdhouse but, needless to say, when I hit that last one I lost my mind!!! NOTHING would make me happier to know than I was housing a few birds with the excellent taste to perch inside me!

    All the work on the houses is FANTASTIC.

    Do they hang near each other?

    For an exact lipstick match it’s Mac Morange. Like neon orange.

    Totally amped to see the AW birdhouse. Thank u for that honor!!

    • Michael Ely

      First of all, thank you sooo much for the Camembert award. Spider was the first to see our email this afternoon and he said – “Oh my god, you won the special cheese award!”

      It will be an honor and fun to build the Allee birdhouse. We only build birdhouses in the Spring (when the air is warm and we can have the garage door open while we work), so it is a few months away form realization. In the meantime, we are discussing various ideas, such as the sunglasses will be three-dimensional cutouts (not just painted on) and we’ll need to fashion a hanging bobble earring.

      We have built many, many birdhouses for friends and family over the years (we built our first one back in the late 80’s), and several simple ones for the birds outdoors, but most of the birdhouses we build are designed strickly for indoor display (as the harsh AZ sun would destroy their character).

      What I forgot to show was that each of our birdhouses is branded on the bottom. Rather then sign them, we brand them using a hot M & S branding iron (that was specially made for us).

  2. jeffreydav

    My father-in-law recently passed away and the family would like to erect a birdhouse in his memory. I would love to build one similar to the boxcar birdhouse you built and posted on this site. Do you have plans or could you provide me with some dimensions? Thanks!
    Jeff Davis [email protected]

  3. Michael Ely

    That boxcar birdhouse is my personal favorite. Believe it or not, it was inspired by a dream I had and we had so much fun designing and building it. Of course, we would be more than happy to help in any way we can. We’ll take photos from each side and send you the dimensions.

    Note to Allee – We haven’t given up on finishing our Allee birdhouse. We have all the pieces cut and now we need to put them together and paint it. Unfortunately my partner is now battling liver cancer and we’ve been up to our ears in doctor appointments and bills and paperwork and just haven’t been in the right frame of mind to be creative, but we will finish it!

    • Allee Willis

      So sorry to hear about your partner. Never easy. Hang in there and please send my regards. I hope you both are doing better soon.

      And thanks so much for offering help with the birdhouse. Looking at them again after all this time makes me love them even more.