Friday, September 20, 2013

Creating An Southwest Outhouse Birdhouse!

The Beginning
I am a confirmed roamer of craft stores. The choices in Southern California are pretty limited. Most of the independents are gone driven out of business, they say, by Michael's. The addition of Hobby Lobby has been a wonderful addition and hopefully more competition to Michaels. Now and then you might find something from JoAnn's but for wood crafters, their heart just isn't in it. You have to look hard to find more choices. My teacher's store in Norco, CA, the Tole Bridge, has lots of surfaces but you need to go there to find her treasures.

I found an outhouse birdhouse at Michael's one day and bought it. No it's not like the one on the right, but close. In fact, I can't even find the birdhouse I used on the Internet. Mine probably cost me $3.99, the one shown here is $22.50, hardly a bargain.

However, the dilemma is still the same. What do you do with it? It sat on my craft table all summer. How do you have fun without being cutsy or corny or quasi pornographic? An outhouse? Come on, the possibilities are endless!

I woke up one day and decided that I would give it a old battered door but the rest of it would be the great Southwestern Desert! The roof would be the evening's sky and it would have the dramatic colors of sunset. Once the decision was made, it became a kind of three dimensional painting but on wood, and on a birdhouse.

You will notice that I also decided to add feet to the birdhouse, make it stand out from the normal cheap fare. I think the cheapie birdhouse is far more fun and distinctive than the blank one here. The sign and moon on the front made it the perfect foil for my plans. If you look closely you can see the pencil design so that I would keep all the parts in the right perspective.

Here, I started with the sky, something that I thought would be the hardest to control. Blue at the top along the roof, then yellow, orange and darker red. I had already colored the saguaro cactus' not worrying about coloring over them. The biggest problem was controlling the dripping. After getting about as much wet paint on me as the birdhouse I quit for the evening letting it dry.

The next session had me putting in the mountains in purple and then the plains. I didn't care if the cactus was painted on as I knew it would have to be painted again.

I then painted the plains going from darker in the front to lighter as it ended by the mountains. I know this isn't reality but I wanted this to be a decoration not the true representation of the world. The colors and creation of distance were more important.

The cactus's were painted again, and I worked on the door. It was painted brown, then streaked with a darker wash. "Cracks" were put in the door and the edges were antiqued. The idea was that when you opened the door you were suddenly in the desert!

One of the most fun parts was the roof. I had a fairly small star and lots of little glitter stars. Over Prussian Blue I glued them in place, added more gold dots and varnished the whole surface to keep the pieces in place.

The desert floor was added and finally the ferny, feathery plants I saw in Saguaro National Park added to the foreground. Even the feet were included and seem to fit perfectly into the scene.

The sign took much thought. I could come up with all kinds of names but finally remembered the signs I often saw in Oklahoma. "Private" seemed fitting AND acceptable for home decor. All that's missing is the old Sears catalog!

My purpose here is to encourage you, as artists and crafters to think outside the box. Looking at the variety of outhouse birdhouses on the Internet, most used the shabby scene of some forlorn wooden shed, long past it better days. I wanted it to be fun, beyond that. I think I succeeded. I encourage you to think outside the box on your own next creation. It can have expected dividends!

Be sure to visit my store. I am always adding new items. You never know. Many would make wonderful gifts!


  1. Oh I LOVE a good re-purpose! Your Privy is fantastic! Great job as always!

    1. Vicky it WAS fun once I settled on a design. As always, that IS the challenge.