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Bird-Making Workshop with Petra Röhr-Rouendaal

On Sunday, eleven of us arrived at Petra’s house for a workshop on making clay birds.  We had a lovely civilised lunch seated around Petra’s huge dining table.  A wonderful amount of food as usual and a very generous supply of samosas.  We decided to keep the cakes for later when we might need a break from the birds. 

Petra explained how she made her creatures by modelling them as solid clay forms and then cutting them in half to hollow them out.  We followed her advice and after removing their insides we rejoined the two halves with slurry. 

For me, the wings proved a little tricky in trying to get them to be balanced.  Certainly it made you really start to think about the actual shapes of birds and none of ours were the same. Some looked quite realistic but most had an imaginative twist to them. 

Petra showed us ways of displaying the birds by perching them on a piece of wood; an interesting twisted branch; maybe an actual stone or one made from clay and then smoke-fired.  So many possibilities.  Legs could be made out of strong twisted wire, with which to make feet as well, or short bits of wire glued into holes in the body of the bird and then glued into the wood or stone that they could stand on.  The positioning of the legs could prove crucial and seemed to have to be further back than you would at first imagine.  It was tempting to poke the holes into the chest of the poor bird until we realised the error of our ways.

Lemon drizzle and carrot cake went down well with a cup of tea while we admired Petra’s garden which runs down to Wyndley Lake in Sutton Park. 

 You can all get to see Petra’s house and garden, together with lots of art work from five different artists, if you come on the Royal Sutton Coldfield Art Trail on 22/23 June.