Bookish Birdhouses: Frances and Mary

Alison Morris - March 24, 2010

So many of you have told me that you love (and miss seeing!) the birdhouses I’ve made using picture books, so I thought I’d post a few more here every now and again, for your viewing pleasure. In all I think I’ve made close to 20 of these, almost all of them as gifts for other people. Among the few still in my possession, though, are my very first bookish birdhouse (from Book Fiesta) and this one, created using Bedtime for Frances, a book written by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Garth Williams, and very dear to my heart.
right (What you can’t see here is the crack in the ceiling that Frances is staring at, fearfully, from her place on the bed below. The crack is visible on the birdhouse, though, if you look up under the overhanging portion of the roof!)
ta da! (I’m so pleased with this one.)
The next birdhouse, below, was in a previous life an F&G for Mary Poppins from A to Z written by P. L. Travers and illustrated by Mary Shepard. Now, it is a birdhouse in the home of Jane Kohuth, one of our wonderful children’s booksellers who is also a soon-to-be author. (Random House recently acquired 2 books by her!) Funny thing: I chose Mary Poppins because Jane is fond of classic illustrated children’s novels in this vein. It was only after I’d given it to her that she pointed out the fact that she and her husband have the same names as Mary Poppins’ charges — Jane and Michael!
front (almost)
right (hmm… Mary’s face is jolly well blocked by the overhang…)

right, take 2 (AND now Mary’s face is in shadow…)
right, take 3 (AND now the whole thing is blurry, but you get the idea, right? Whew.)
If you’re interested I’ll happily show more of these creations at a future date. I’ll also put together a how-to if any of you want more than my quick & dirty set of instructions, which are:
1. Buy cheap birdhouse.
2. Remove perches.
3. Paint it.
4. Glue pages to it.
5. Put pencils where perches where.

21 thoughts on “Bookish Birdhouses: Frances and Mary

  1. Bonnie

    Thanks for posting this. I love them. I plan to look for picture books at yard sales and make a few for my yard. I may even do this as a project with my Girl Scouts.

  2. Jo Beth

    Do you decoupage it on or just glue the illustrations on? What kind of glue do you use? I have some book dust covers that are so beautiful, I hate to throw them out. I’d rather be good to the environment and use them in some way. Any ideas?
    Jo Beth Dempsey
    Sacred Heart School
    East Grand Forks, MN

  3. Betty the Bookie

    Thank you so much for posting your creations. They are an inspiration. I work in an independent book store in Denver. I think your devotion to children’s books/book selling is inspirational. Keep up the good work.

  4. Holly

    You are brilliant!!! You definitely have an eye for what pages will look the best. You do know you could go into business with these, right? What type of glue do you use?

  5. Christine Tripp

    These are just BEAUTIFUL! I would hate to actually use them outside. I can now think of so many other things that could be made (especially for a young ones room/playroom) using your fab technique. I too look forward to more detailed instructions, but fear my attempts won’t be as lovely.
    I would perhaps add a caution that no one think to sell the creations at craft shows etc, as tempting as that might be. Personal use is fine but I believe selling them would violate the illustrators copyright.
    Can’t wait to make one for my granddaughter (A princess themed book would work for her)

  6. ShelfTalker Alison

    To those of you asking what glue I use: my adhesive of choice is Yes Paste, but you can use ModPodge or PVA or any archival glue-like substance you prefer. A note for those of you seeing my birdhouses for the first time: these are NOT actually fit for outdoor use. They are purely decorative.

  7. bookgals

    After seeing your first post we did these with school age children and my wonderful carpenter husband made the birdhouses, I spray painted them and the kids picked pages from books and magazines and glued them on and used clear spray paint to seal them. Everyone was so successful and they were simply beautiful. We are thinking of doing this again this summer. Thanks for such wonderful ideas.

  8. John

    I do the same with childrens books – I actually sell mine and have become concerned about copyright issues…any ideas??


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