Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Beth's Bird Boutique

Today I'd like to introduce you to my blogger friend, Beth, from "Our Appalachia."   Beth and her husband, Tim, have a wonderful hobby that they've turned into a side business - they build birdhouses out of reclaimed wood and also create birdhouses out of dried gourds.  They are so pretty.  Beth has such a lovely talent and a light, artistic touch - her cute painted birds are my favorite.  She is going to show us some of the process of creating their birdhouses......

The picture above is of a birdhouse my husband's grandfather built. It is 50 plus years old as near as we can figure! Built properly you would be amazed at how long a birdhouse will last and remain functional. I've been noticing the older ones still around in our area. Yes, it is the old handmade ones that are still hanging from fence posts possibly being used by some of our feathered friends! Now, really, I'm not just being prejudiced. I know that we happen to build them as a side business but, do take a look around yourself. You won't see too many mass marketed birdhouses that are very old and built to last. 

This is a picture of a little wooden Wren house that my husband made and I painted. I call it my Mexican style birdhouse. I've always liked the bold and brillant colors that many of the Mexican houses are painted! So, I painted one in that style. Some cactus's on the front finish it off! This series that we built have been fun to just paint. Simple little houses that we can sell more economically. The wood we use is "upcycled". That simply means that we have turned otherwise unusable wood into something useful. Most of our birdhouse are built this way. We've always enjoyed "upcycling" in any way we can. It's a lot of fun to take something old or broken and fix it up new!

I also paint on birdhouse gourds. These are some unfinished gourds my daughter brought from South Carolina for me. I have painted and sold several of these but still have quite a few to go. I am almost always in the process of one. They start like this and need to be cleaned before you can even begin to paint on them. They are hard shelled and can be painted, dyed, woodburned, carved on or simply left natural. The traditional use of gourds goes back for many thousands of years! Native North Americans were the first to use them for birdhouses. 

Here are a few in various stages of cleaning. The white on the outside is mold and needs to be cleaned off. A good soak in sudsy hot water and a plastic scrub brush is what I use. I fill my sink with soapy water and lay the gourd in it turning it, to get all sides wet. I let it soak for 5-10 minutes, again turning it occasionally. Then I begin to scrub the mold off. It usually comes off quite easily. My daughter uses a spray on bleach cleaner. She sets the gourd in the sink and sprays the cleaner on, waits a few minutes and scrubs the loosened mold away with a plastic scrubber of some kind. She rinses the bleach off well and then lets it dry. Either way you need to make sure they dry well before beginning any art work on them.

This gourd I have used leather dye as the base coat. You must wear rubber gloves when using this product. It is a permanent dye! It can be found at most hobby shops in the leather crafting section. 

This gourd I have begun a base coat of acrylic paint. Which is a very common medium used in painting gourds. Gourd art is an amazing art form. I am enjoying learning it, but I have so far to go. So many beautiful things can be done with them. 

This is the finished gourd. A hole must be drilled in the size of opening you wish. My husband uses a hole saw to do this. Then the loose seeds and pith must be emptied out. I don't worry about any that can't be loosened as it adds insulation to the house anyway. Also some small holes are drilled in the bottom for drainage. Two holes in the top serve as ventilation and a place to insert leather cording to hang it with.  After a base coat, a design is painted on with a final coating of clear spray on exterior lacquer to help make it weather resistant.  Most of my designs are usually of birds, as I am totally in love with these feathered, graceful and singing creatures! What a gift to mankind! 

Thank you so much Kim, for the invite to write this guest post! You can see more of my birdhouses and feeders at Etsy BethsBirdBoutique.

Thank you Beth for such an interesting and fun post.  I totally enjoyed learning about the process of creating your birdhouses.  You're welcome to come over and post anytime.  Don't forget to go visit Beth at her blog.  She is sure to become a new favorite!


  1. Oh, I love the sweet birdhouses and I've always loved gourds. I have a few...but not one painted like this! Very fun feature! I have Tony's Tips on my blog this morning! I'm so excited about all of the great information he's giving on his new blog! Hugs! ♥

  2. Very interesting -- I have a couple of old gourds sitting around and have been wondering what to do with them. Now I have a new project!

    And I received the Clif Bars I won -- can't wait to bite into one! Thanks!

  3. Those gourd birdhouses are really cool. What a great idea!

  4. How I love that gourd bird house and the fact that you still have that 50 year old one is so wonderful. What a treasure.

  5. Seen many of those gourd birdhouses when in SC and they always make me smile. Popular with the birds too!
    xo Cathy

  6. beautiful! sadly living in an appartment in the city I don't have much use for a birdhouse... I envy the stories I read around here in the blog-o-sphere about people watching birds from their home...

  7. Beth is quite an artist! I love her birds painted on the birdhouses! That old birdhouse just goes to show that quality handmade can last for a very long time.

  8. Thanks everybody. I do have fun with them anyway. And yes, the fifty year old one is a treasure! It stays inside's been retired! Sits on our piano in a place of honor. :)


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