Time to talk about the birds and the beads

May is the perfect month to incorporate bird themes into our jewelry designs as we welcome back our springtime winged visitors.

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Just this morning, I saw 11 different bird species as I walked through my backyard, drove to work, and looked out my office window. From various warblers and woodpeckers to sandhill cranes and wild turkeys, springtime offers inviting views of avian arrivals, many of which we have missed for months. Of course this differs greatly, depending where you are in the world. You might have year-round visits from pelicans, gulls, and shorebirds. Or do you have puffin and auks?

In the US alone, it’s estimated that there are 47 million “birders” –– 41 million “backyard birders” and 18 million “active birders” who travel to view birds –– per a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 2011 study. Plus, a new study by the American Museum of Natural History indicates that there are about 18,000 bird species in the world, which is nearly twice as many as previously thought.

Okay –– I’ll stop here to note that I am a bird nerd. When I’m not counting stitches, I’m probably out counting birds, or spouting odd trivia about birds. I’ll contain my bird nerd tendencies to get back to beads.
BirdsandBeadsFBnest
Find and excellent tutorial for this wire-wrapped nest at Fusion Beads where you can also purchase the supplies.
BirdsandBeadsBnest
For a video tutorial, try this from Beadaholique

Last year I noticed quite a few online images of hand-made nest pendants. You know the ones with a wire nest with gemstones, or other round beads, nestled in the center? You can find them on Etsy, Pinterest, and a few of my favorite bead shops have free tutorials for these pendants. I found one thing missing from all of these pendants: seed beads. To make the pendants more “beady,” I came up with my own project that combines seed beads with wire for a beaded bird nest.

BirdsandBeadsnestpendant
I felt like most of the wire-wrapped nests available online were not "beady" enough, so I added seed beads to my version.

For my Seeded Bird Nest, I used three 8 mm amazonite round beads, less than 1g of two different size 11/0 seed beads (one brown and the other color-lined crystal), and about 3 yd. (2.7 m) of 24-gauge wire. Using techniques similar to Fusion Bead’s version, I wrapped a nest base, and added the three 8 mm gemstones. To integrate seed beads, I picked up 6–12 brown seed beads on the wire and wove them around the exterior of the nest, and repeated until covered. I “feathered” the nest by using the lighter colored beads in the interior, between the nest and the amazonite beads. The addition of seed beads gives greater texture and color variation to the standard wire-wrapping project.

Of course, there are endless amounts of bird-themed beads, finding, and components, which you can purchase. Avian themes are perfect to embed in a complex embroidery project, or simply add to a strung project. Following are a few of my favorite from various sources.

 

BirdsandBeadsCab
Search bird cabochons on Etsy and you'll be flooded with great options. This would look great bezeled with seed beads!
BirdsandBeadslampworkdoves

You can find these lampwork “doves” on Etsy, along with hundreds of other bird beads. I bought these for a beaded terrarium, that I made last Christmas.

Stop by your favorite bead store and scour their options to view unique, locally-crafted components, or hop online for great avian bead shopping.
BirdsandBeadsLBbirdheadcoin

Lima Beads has a great assortment of Green Girls Studios’ pewter pieces with bird themes.

BirdsandBeadsFMGowl

Whether you like your componants to look realistic or as caricatures, Fire Mountain Gems sells a wide variety from owls to ravens.

For inspiration, take a look at our reader’s gallery that champions the bird theme.

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If you are a bird enthusiast, consider signing up for the Cornell Lab’s Global Big Day on May 5, 2018. On this day, 20,000+ people worldwide will record the birds they see on the one day. They also have a free app to help you with your bird species identification, Merlin Bird ID App. (In case your wondering, the current record for amount of birds spotted by a single Big Day team is 431 species, which was set in Ecuador.)

Happy birding and/or beading!
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