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(You can read her story here.)

Grandmother Byrda started out as a he, and was going to be somebody else completely.

At first the doll had shoes, and was going to be an elf of some sort. I had covered the wrapped armature with felt and was planning to attach colorful fall leaves and other natural materials as his costume, with mosses and such covering the legs.

I glued leathery leaves like gauntlets to the arms, as well as the lower legs, but at that point my mind just shut down. The doll was clearly telling me it was not an elf. I left it for a while and went on to do other things.

When next I sat down at my worktable I looked at that nose and thought ... bird.

And then my eye fell on a box of eggs that I had picked up at Marshall's to use with my Easter decorations. And then I saw the whole thing in my head.

Aha! He's not an elf; he's a she, and she's a bird woman! And an old woman at that!

I began with a small grapevine wreath as the framework for the nest.

For the base I used some interesting packing paper that I've had for a long time, and Spanish moss formed the remainder of the nest.

I used fiberfill to give her a rounded back (slightly visible on the left side here).

Rather than remove the green pants, however, I just decided to cover them up with her skirts. Here I have cut away the lower legs and shoes, and was still searching for something to make the bird feet.

I have a large collection of chickens that I set atop my china cabinets each fall, and when I went searching through the box, there was a metal chicken with the right sized feet! I didn't even try to do much with them except glue them into the legs with Tacky and super glue. After all, she's an old bird woman! Here they look foreshortened, but there are upper legs on them and the spur at the back.

I glued about half-inch strips of torn muslin around her waist, forming a loose underskirt, then gathered a few of them around each leg to enclose the top of the chicken feet. I just left the fabric strips ragged, to add to the feather effect.

The skirt was formed from a strange tassel that I had picked up at a wholesale fabric outlet a year or so ago, along with a yard of matching fringe. I just cut sections of the varicolored strands from the tassel and glued them around the waist.

The upper sleeves were two separate pieces; an upper sleeve with holes punched out, and an undersleeve of cheesecloth. I left the leathery leaves that I had intended for the elf.


The tail feathers were from from my stash. Not sure where I got them.

From that same group of feathers I used some to cover her bosom.

Also in my stash was a strip of feathery looking something, not sure what, attached to a knit backing. It was not quite long enough to cover her entire back so I had to piece it. I carefully snipped the backing away along the seamlines so that when the two halves were butted against each other, the feathers would cover the seam. In real life, the seam doesn't show, but you can see a faint suggestion of it here captured with the unblinking eye of my digital camera!

I had intended to give her a hat or cap made of feathers, but as I worked on her cape, I realized that the same stuff would be perfect for her hair.

And it was!

I hope you liked Byrda. She was fun to bring to life.

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