Thank you for stopping in again! Let me start by saying that, never in a million years, did I think that there would be a Part II to this project; that there would be a “rest of the story” to tell! I thought that this was a one-time gift that would be brought out each year at Christmastime.
What I couldn’t predict was how much my mom enjoyed her tree–especially the 6-hour timer feature. Her tree came on every day around 3;30, and she loved the soft light it added during the late afternoons and evenings. So she decided that she would like to keep her tree up all year long. While I was thrilled that I had found something that she really enjoyed, I wasn’t prepared for the implications of her decision. I couldn’t let her have the holiday decorations up all year long, nor did I want her to have a bare birch tree for 3/4ths of the year, so this is how the Part II of this project came to be. This is how the birch tree evolved from a tree with Christmas decorations to a tree with seasonal decorations!
The design concept and “construction” of the spring houses came together fairly quickly.
I chose a color scheme of blue and yellow to represent the return of blue skies and bright sunshine. For the accent decorations, I chose sweet white daisies and bluebirds of happiness, both of which also return in the spring. I have my spring decorations up right now, so I took a picture of how they look on my tree:
I have to say that out of all of the sets I have ended up making, the spring set is my favorite. I love the patterns of the papers for the roofs; the sweet white daisies; and how happy and cheerful the tree looks when all of the decorations are on it.
I’m not sure if you have been able to notice any design consistencies yet, but I’d like to talk about my design concept, and point out some of the features that I carried through with each of these sets. One of the things that I have learned is that when you are creating a set of something, the set becomes cohesive and looks like it belongs together when you carry certain features consistently throughout each part.
Having 2 sets side-by-side may make it easier for you to visualize the consistent design features I have used for each set:
- White card stock for cubes and outer peak side pieces
- Solid coordinating card stock for inner side peak pieces
- Designer paper patterns for roof pieces
- Heart cut out for all side peak pieces
- 11/4″ white bakers twine loops for roofs
- 1″ single strand white embroidery floss loops for accent decorations
- 6 houses per set
- 5 each of 2 double-sided accent decorations per set
- Same decoration box layout and label elements
Just like carrying through certain design features in each set, it’s important to note how critical a role the designer paper played in this project–it IS the project! This paper sets the mood; it drives the color scheme; and it guides the accent decorations. I wasn’t successful in finding the perfect paper for a summer set, so Summer of 2021 came and went without a new set of houses.
I was able to make a fall set for that year, and I took a few creative liberties with these decorations:
I used 6 different colors of solid card stock as part of the side pieces, rather than the usual 2 or 3 colors, and the double-sided leaves were two-toned, instead of being the same color on both sides. It’s fun, and possible, to create some subtle distinctions between the sets while staying within the design parameters.
We would have to wait until Spring of 2023 for a summer set of houses. I found that summer paper packs were more theme-oriented than the other seasons of the year–i.e. vacation, beach/ocean, pool party, ice cream etc. I wanted, and kept looking for a pack that focused more on bright colors and fun patterns rather than on a specific theme. I finally found the perfect paper pack this spring, and I didn’t waste a second before starting construction of a summer set!
I loved the mix of colors and patterns included in this paper pack, and I knew it would make really bright and cheerful houses. Since one of the paper patterns had butterflies on it, I chose butterflies and suns as my accent decorations.
While I was working on this set, I tried to take a few “behind the scenes” pictures of different aspects of making each set. This picture gives you an idea of the many pieces involved in assembling each house and accent decoration. For instance, the roof is made up of 2 layers of card stock; one designer and white. Designer paper tends to be thin, so I layered it on top of white card stock to give it some weight and stability. The cube starts out as a 3 x 3 piece of white card stock, which is then scored at 1″ on all 4 sides. Then, once the flaps are cut and lots of adhesive is applied, it can finally be assembled into a cube.
Eventually, all 36 cubes and roof pieces are complete, and it’s time for “roofing day”.
Adhering the roof pieces is the most tedious and time-consuming part of the whole process. It’s not easy to get the solid roof piece to stick to the thin edge of the peaks on both sides. I have tried several different kinds of glue with the various sets, and I have found that the glue with the best holding and staying power is E6000.
Once I have all of the houses and accent decorations assembled, I like to put a complete set on a tree as a final test to make sure I like how everything looks together. It was at this point that I noticed that something was “off” with this set; there was something that I didn’t like.
I couldn’t put my finger on the issue at first, so I just kept coming back to the tree, and I finally figured out that it was the suns–they weren’t sweet and charming. I matched the yellow card stock to the yellow in the paper pack, but it was too dark. I also concluded that one of the best parts about the suns is the happy face, and you couldn’t readily see it.
So, back to the drawing board. I decided to use white card stock for the front of the suns, and one of the yellow patterns from the pack for the back of the suns. I stamped the suns rays and happy face in yellow, and, bingo, we had a winner!
This design change made all of the difference in the world to me, and this is why I always test the decorations out on the tree before calling the set finished!
Now that the summer sets were done, it was time to make all of the boxes. Here are pictures of the box lid colors and label designs–I make 2 of each color:
I can’t tell you what a thrill it is, and how excited I am that I have finally brought this project full circle! Now my mom, and all the rest of us can truly enjoy our birch trees year round. But, especially my mom.
So, I have finally reached the end of this project, and I have reached the end of my story. After making:
- 144 seasonal bird houses
- 240 double-sided accent decorations, which translates to 480 individual pieces
- 24 box bottoms and lids
- 16 yards of white baker’s twine
- 6 1/2 yards of white embroidery floss
I am ready to hang up my hard hat and tool belt and retire from house construction! I love how this project began and how it evolved into something beyond my wildest imagination, and, for me, it will go down as one of my most favorite and best projects of all time.
It’s been wonderful to finally be able to share this project and story with you–this was a long one and I appreciate you sticking with me. Please take care, and, as always, remember:
“May the waves kiss your feet, / the sand be your seat, / and your friends out-number the stars.”