The Liver Bird

Recently I was commissioned by a very considerate husband to make a Liver Bird for a present to his wife on their first wedding anniversary. I always enjoy commissions as it is fun to work on something I might never have thought to make myself. Also the process always leads to me being inspired to make other things too. First wedding anniversary gifts are paper, so it is lovely when people come to me for something special.

I was pushed for time a little bit with this commission, so there was no time to visit Liverpool to wander around the beautiful waterfront at the Liver building and get some inspiration. I have seen them many times before, but an excuse to visit Liverpool is always welcomed! Last time I was there I didn't visit the waterfront (instead I wandered through their recently renovated Central Library, mostly to gaze at the new, stunning architecture and the old, beautiful Oak Room. There is a great review of the building here. The visit was book ended with visits to the ace Leaf and Egg Cafe, naturally. Liverpool is awesome.)

Instead I scoured the internet for photographs and doodled in my sketchbook. Doodling always helps me imagine how to construct the shape, similar to how a cartoonist draws: spheres and cubes! Once I've got an idea I start having a play with my ruler and protractor. Next step is the (usually rather ropey looking) paper prototype:

Once I'm happy everything fits together I can sharpen up the finished template and get screen printing. His face is a wee bit pointier than the original Livers, but I rather liked that. I thought he looked rather elegant this way. 

Since I rarely make birds with large, protruding wings I decided they would need some sturdy wire support. This would mean a complicated weight distribution (my models do not usually involve wire, except for feet), so the design on the legs would have to be figured out towards the end of construction! 

I was on a tight time frame for this one, so a few late night constructing sessions took place in my living room, assisted by series one of Lost. Every good day's papercrafting involves some good quality sci-fi entertainment. Textured verdigris patterns were made by doodling and mixing paints directly on the screen as I print. I always do that, as every piece I make has a different colour/texture palette of its very own. Once the basic pieces were attached a spot of embellishment was in order. Attaching individual feathers took an exceedingly long time, but I was happy with the effect of them:

Nearly finished! Back at the studio I had just enough time to add a teeny branch in its beak. The original Liver Birds hold a kind of seaweed in their beaks, however since this was a commission, wedding flowers were the inspiration. I made a few hydrangea flowers for him to hold in his beak:

Ta dah!

I really enjoyed this commission. Designing him made me think with a few tweaks I would be able to make ducks or eagles. Also with a different face and tail I could make a fairly fancy dragon! 



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