Paper Bird Tutorial

As promised, here is my Paper Bird Tutorial.

First things first, disclaimer time… the artwork I created with this weaving style is entirely my own, however, the concept of the woven bird is quite old.  In researching the web I found only a few step-by-step instructions for this style of woven birds.  My hope is to provide a tutorial that may be of more help for you.  Once you get the knack for these, they are really not too difficult.

Making a Woven Bird

This is the template that I used for this demo bird.  It is a 1″ wide strip, the wing is 1½” before the lengthwise cuts are made to form the weaving strips.

The first fold

Fold the first strip down on a 45° angle, crease, and weave under the second strip, over the third, and then under the fourth.

Completed right-hand wing

Fold the second strip down and crease same as the first, weave under and then over the remaining two strips.

Left-hand wing folded upside down

The left hand wing is folded same as the right, only upside down.

Line up back of bird

Flip left hand wing over, and line up the folded edges of the wings.  Hint:  If you tape your work to a movable mat, you can rotate it to make the weaving easier.

Back of bird woven

Fold the back of the bird, following the pattern already established by weaving the wings.  The back will look like a woven diamond with four strips facing up, and four strips facing down.

Underside of bird, ready to weave body

Flip work over so that under side of bird is up, tape to work area with drafting tape.  The belly of the bird is woven in a diamond pattern as well.  Weave the outer strips counter-clockwise, starting with A.

Bend the strips over, do not crease!!

Strips A and then B are bent down and secured temporarily with tape.  Do not crease these strips, you will need them to form the 3-D body.

Weaving the body

Strip C is bent up and then strip D is bent up and woven under A.  The remaining four strips are bent over and woven in following the pattern already established.

Almost finished

This photo shows the bottom of the bird woven, it will be messy until the last steps.  The remaining strips that point upward will become the head of the bird.  The strips pointing downward will become the tail.  Each pair are pulled through the small openings at the top and bottom.  Weave the odd-numbered strips through first, then follow with the even-numbered strips.  Note:  For the nicest looking bird, I like to weave strips #1 and #5  in a slightly different way.

This strip gets a special weave

Strip #1 is woven under BOTH strips on this side of the bird.  Strip #2 is then woven over the top of #1 and through the end strip only.  Same goes for strips #5 & #6.

forming the tail and head

The remaining strips are woven under the last strip only.

A nice tight belly

Pull each strip individually to tighten up the body of the bird.  This takes some fiddling to straighten up the weaving and to tighten up the end loops so that it will secure.  This photo shows what the underside of the bird will look like.

It's all held together with one knot

With the bird right side up, tie and flatten an overhand knot for the head.  The placement of the head is totally up to you, if you want your bird to have a long neck or a short one.  Cut the extra paper at an angle to form the beak (or get fancy and cut an open beak as I have done here).

Ta-Da!! The finished bird!

I curled this one’s tail around a pencil for the spirals shown.  You could crimp it with a paper crimper.  Or you could just leave it straight, again this is up to you.  Note, the knot for the head is what is holding this together, there really is not need for glue.  I did find, however, that putting a little dab of a glue stick in between the papers of the beak will make it look more… beak-like.

I created this smaller demo bird out of 1″ wide strips of two-sided 12″ x 12″ card stock.  The front of the paper is maroon, and the back is a vintage cream.  I chose the two-sided stock for demonstration purposes, but the finished product is very attractive.  The paper for the demo was purchased at Artful Scrapbook in Washington Twp, Michigan.  The birds that I did for the magazine article were larger, about the size of my hand.  They were created with larger art paper purchased at Greens in Rochester, Michigan.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed my little tutorial.  I have found that I make my birds slightly different from the ones that I have found instructions for online.  I like the result that I get with this method.  Please use your creativity and have fun making them!!!

Published in: on January 19, 2010 at 12:26 am  Comments (12)  
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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh BLESS your heart…SO looking forward to following your tutorial! Thank you thank you THANK YOU!!

  2. Deft handwork indeed! I think I’m going to have to upgrade my glasses but I really want to make a few of these for my daughter! Will any kind of paper work or must it be card? I have a ream of printing paper that I’d like to get some use out of you see. Beautiful work, mate, beautiful work!

    • Any kind of paper will work. It is easier with card stock, but printer paper should work as well. You may need to stuff the body of your bird with some fiber fill like I did with the ones in the article, they were made with much thinner paper. Good Luck!

  3. Hey everyone. I updated the tutorial, seems that I missed the part where the last four strips are woven on the belly of the bird.
    Also, please let me know if the pictures are too dark. On my home laptop they look just fine, but on my work PC they look dark… but that just could be because my work monitor is from somewhere around 1985!! Thanks!

  4. Thank you so much. I am trying it now and it may take awhile but there is hope! The photos have turned out very well. Thanks again.

  5. Hi thanks so much for this tutorial. I came across it when looking for a paper weaving project and decided that this was the one for me..had lots of fun and trying to work out the belly part was a mission but it came together in the end and I think the final result was super. I used it on a scrapbook page as an embellishment.

  6. to make this website and show how to make this craft does someone need a patent?

    • This is actually an older craft and other how-to sites can be found by searching the web.
      Hope this answered your question.

  7. Thank you for posting this tutorial. I have been doing these birds for a few years, and I want to be able to point people to the directions.
    I personally find that I like to work with vellum best, although all papers work well. It is a sturdy enough paper that the birds need no fill, but it is still thin, and easily maneuverable, without causing unsightly crease marks. I also find it smoothly glides when you are pulling the head and tail to tighten the body. Other papers sometimes snag, or don’t pull so nicely. The best thing about vellum though, is that it has a translucent look, and it comes in many colours, and patterns, and it is very inexpensive. I have actually found it at a dollar store. They make great Christmas ornaments, with a piece of gold stirng through the body, or hanging in a window. Because of the translucent paper, they throw colour across the floor when the sun hits.
    I was wondering, though, if you may know of any patterns similar to this design, but for other animals. I have alot of requests for bunnies and dragons, and I would love to try my hand at a new design. Thanks for your help!

    • Great idea about the vellum, I will have to try it.
      I have found a how-to page for a fish design. I remember when I was little we used to weave fish and hearts out of construction paper. I don’t know of any other animals, though it might not be too difficult to come up with one as long as it had the same body shape.

      • THANKS SO MUCH FOR THIS BIRD–I’ve been stuck on the last couple of steps for years–finally clear. BTW, I made a pdf for the woven fish pattern. contact me and i’ll send you a copy, you can post if desired. sue

  8. My dad (who passed away 20 years ago) used to make these with me when I was little, exactly as you have shown here. I remember making these and loved them! I found this post while looking for a woven fish that he used to make in a very similar fashion to these birds but can’t find it anywhere! You don’t happen to make fish as well do you??

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