The first thing to remember when making a clay birdhouse is that your clay form will shrink as it dries and when it is fired. So the lesson is to build about 20 percent bigger than your final product.
Get your work area ready. You will need:
- Table with fabric stretched over it to work the clay.
- Spray bottle filled with water, used to keep the clay moist while you make your birdhouse.
- Rolling pin, empty wine bottle, or other smooth cylinder to roll your clay flat
- Clay shaping tool. The back of a plastic knife will work if you do not have pottery tools
- Round shape to use as a cutting template, such as a bowl or tin that is nine to twelve inches in diameter.
Step one is to take the clay, and roll it out to about 1/4 thick in a big slab. Spray a little water on the fabric covering your table before placing the clay to help it stay moist. Roll in many directions so that the clay is spread to an even thickness. Rolling the clay in only one direction will spread it out unevenly.
Step two is to place the bowl or other round shape on the slab, and cut the clay around it to make the base for your birdhouse. Peel away the clay around the birdhouse base, and scratch little lines about 1/8th of an inch all round the top edge of the circle.
Step three is to roll another slab that is about 1/8th of an inch thick. Cut a long strip of clay that will become the walls of the birdhouse. Use a ruler or box as your template to cut a 12" wide strip. Make it longer than it needs to be. It is easier to trim away extra clay than add it in.
Step four is to stand your walls up and place them on the base of your birdhouse. Wrap the clay around to form circular walls. If you the wall is wider than the base, trim off an inch or two until it fits perfectly. Spray the base along the etching marks you made, and spray the two ends of the wall, and join them together. Mash the base up against the wall to make a secure join.
Step five is to create the roof. Use the left over slab of clay to create a cone to top your birdhouse. Rough up the edges of the wall and moisten to help make the join a strong one. Roll out a small snake of clay and run it along the outside edge and smooth it to the wall and roof for extra stability.
Step six is to cut out the entrance and to add holes to run your wires through in order to hang your birdhouse.
Cover your birdhouse lightly in plastic so that the clay can dry out slowly. If you do not have your own kiln to fire your birdhouse, there may be pottery cafes in your neighborhood. Google "pottery party" or "pottery café" to find one close to you. Or check with your local community school to see if they have a pottery program.