My other half was telling me about a work colleague who had described themselves as being “a rubbish friend”. My brain decided that what I needed to do now was to make him an actual rubbish friend.
My first thought was to start off with an empty toilet roll and make a doll-like friend, but after Googling for inspiration and being assaulted by the vision of oh so many hideous doll toilet roll covers, I decided to change tack.
More random searching found a tutorial for turning a plastic bottle into an owl – perfect.
I rescued a bottle from the recycling, carefully cut it up as instructed and then glued two of the pieces together to make the basic owl shape. When that was set, I gave it a couple of coats of white gesso so the acrylic paint would stick more easily.
Then I set about making the feathers. I drew a template to get the size right and decided it would be easier to make a simple stamp than to draw around a paper template thirty-plus times. And, as I was making a stamp, I might as well give it some feathery texture too.
I pulled an Ocado receipt from the recycling box — the back has some nice monochrome green images on which would add some texture and variety to the feathers. I stamped over the images with Distress oxide ink, not worrying about getting perfect impressions, and then fussy cut them all out. I stuck two rows of feathers on the owl with the fast grab glue and then paused to decide what to do next.
At this point, I had to choose my colour scheme to go with the feathers. I wanted to keep it fairly natural but didn’t want a dull brown, so I got out my iridescent gold and mixed it with some raw sienna to give a warm, shiny brown. I gave the body two coats and dry brushed the bottom edges of the feathers. (If I make another owl, I will paint the body colour before putting the feathers on, but I didn’t really have a plan for the colours when I started.)
We have some silicone micropore tape that comes on small rolls that have these plastic discs on either side of the card tube and I have been saving the discs, thinking they might come in useful on an assemblage mixed media panel. They were just the right size for the owl’s eyes. The centres of the eyes are “gems” off the top of bottles of Nuvo drops; I count these as rubbish because they aren’t stuck on very well and one had fallen off ages ago (and the other came off really easily). And they fit perfectly inside the discs.
I coated the discs with white gesso and painted them (two coats again) with a mix of iridescent gold and iridescent silver. The gems were glued in the centre and the eyes glued onto the owl with the 3D gel and left it to set for a bit.
I decided that the eye gems needed some colour, so I painted the centres with black gesso and the outside with a mix of iridescent gold and yellow.
I rounded the top edge of some of the spare feathers (I had made them with a straight top edge, like a shield) and attached another row to the owl. I dry brushed the edge of these with some yellow-gold paint left over from doing the eyes.
He needed a beak. I couldn’t think of anything in my stash that was the right sort of shape, so I just grabbed a spare bit of foil that was left over from something (really not sure what though) and squished it to the right size. I glued it in place and painted it with black gesso.
The only thing left to do was to give him some feet. While I was searching for the fuzzy yellow pipe cleaners in my stash — a bit too fluffy really, but they’d probably do — I came across a couple of leftover bits of regular white pipe cleaner. Just enough to make the feet. I folded them into shape, gave them a spritz of Distress stain, waited till they were dry and then glued them in place.
And now my other half has his very own little rubbish owl friend on his desk.
- Prep & Stick:
Prima Finnabair 3D matte gel
Aleene’s fast grab tacky glue
Liquitex white gesso
Pebeo acrylic paints – iridescent gold, iridescent silver, raw sienna, cadmium yellow medium
Distress oxide – frayed burlap
Distress stain – wild honey
Ranger – black gesso
hand carved feather end stamp
500ml Coke bottle
plastic tape holder
a scrap of kitchen foil
Nuvo bottle top gems