My sweetie built me a couple of raised beds for flowers and herbs near our home. They just seem to need a birdhouse or two. Perhaps a small collection of them. I have several ideas of what I want to make, but here’s a start – a stone birdhouse (with how-tos for anyone who wants to give it a try).
I started with a wooden birdhouse that I picked up on sale at Hobby Lobby. I painted the roof and base with a mix of Coffee Bean and Asphaltum acrylic paint. I knew I was going to use pinecone scales for the roof, so I tried to mix a color that would match my collection of pinecones (thank you, Diana, for letting me raid your yard). That way if any roof peeked through the pinecone scales, it would just blend in.
My husband drilled a hole for the landing twig just under the entrance hole (thanks, hubby, for your help).
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Then I started looking around for small flat stones for the stone walls. When I got tired of dragging through all the gravel in my driveway (and my friends’ driveways, and the street, don’t tell), I bought an additional bag of stones from a craft store. I wanted to have a variety of color and a slight mix of sizes.
I used DAP Kwik Seal Ultra silicone sealant to glue the stones to the birdhouse. I also attached small sticks at the corners so I would have a workable edge for the grout.
The Mosaic Mercantile mosaic grout I bought was not premixed, so I mixed the dry powder with water (and a bit of grey paint) and made it a tiny bit on the loose side (you could add a couple of drops of water to premixed grout).
Then I spooned the grout into a ziplock sandwich bag, cut a corner off the bag, and piped the grout around the stones (just like you would pipe icing on a cake). I then used a bazillion Q-tips to push the grout around the stones and clean off the surface of each stone. Sometimes you want to use dry Q-tips and sometimes it helps to dampen them a bit. (I didn’t wait the 20 minutes they suggest before cleaning up the stones. I just cleaned as I went.)
Here’s a picture of what the process looks like. You can see the progression from stones to messy grout to neat stones and grout.
I let everything dry for 24 hours and then brushed a coat of matte water-based sealant over the stones and grout. Most everything on the birdhouse is water-based to keep it fairly bird-safe (just in case a bird actually decides to make it home).
the pinecone roof
Here’s another picture of the birdhouse just as I started working on the roof.
I cut down some pinecone scales to create the fascia of the roof (that’s the outside edge of the roof) and then overlapped scales to cover the surface of the roof, finishing off with bits to decorate the top roof ridge. Here are the different bits of pinecone I created out of the pinecone scales. You may need to trim a scale or two as you work to make for a neat fit.
(Pulling the pinecone scales off was pretty tough. I let the cones dry thoroughly so the scales opened wide and pulled away from each other. Then I pulled each scale off with needle-nose pliers. The closer you get the pliers to the base of the scale, the less damage you’ll do it. Just know you’ll need lots of pinecones so you’ll wind up with enough scales for your project.)
Here’s a look at the roof. I measured the length of the average pinecone scale and marked the roof with lines that meant I could cover the top of the previous row and end up with the last row butting up against the top roof ridge. Decorative bits of pinecone scale would cover those ends and finish it out. I added sphagnum moss here and a bit around the base.
The decoration at the peak of the roof is raffia and some twigs I found on our property (we have a lot of different kinds of pines). I found some small leaves and flowers at Hobby Lobby that I used for the flowering vine. The vacancy sign is made from floral wire and part of a popsicle stick (I watered down brown paint to give it more of an aged look).
And that’s it. I will pull the birdhouse inside over the winter (we have months of snow), but otherwise I think I will let it age naturally.
Related Reading: Setting Sane Homesteading Goals - 'cause we want to do everything!
all photos © Lori / Dandelion Hill Homestead