Making the Owl

The owl as it is affectionately know at my house, was a really big project so I’m going to break it down into sections. This will be the first of a series of five posts as I wanted you to be able to see what was involved in the whole process. So let’s begin at the start…

One day at work during one of my breaks, I was sitting in the office thinking about all the different props I could make, there were all these ideas racing through my head. Some doable and some totally impractical. Was I getting too carried away, after all it was only a party and it was only for one night.

There was one thought that did stay in my head, so I grabbed a pen and paper and made a quick rough sketch, it was of the owl lectern as seen in the Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone movie. I had always admired it, it was one of my favorite props.

As I kept on sketching away I thought, wouldn’t it be a cool to have this as a prop on the night and wouldn’t it add to the look of my version of Hogwarts great hall.

Since I was going as Dumbledore, this prop was for me. I could imagine myself standing behind it, addressing all the new students. Imagine the power I could command being Dumbledore. Everyone respecting and admiring me and ready to take on the Dark Lord.

(That would be Beau as he was coming as Voldemort).

STOP. Ok, enough dreaming.

The more I thought of it, the more I wanted it. However I wasn’t quite sure how, or if, I could do it. I had never carved anything before let alone an owl that was landing on a ball, at the moment it was just a thought. But a dam good thought at that.

Rowan came into the office and saw me sketching, he knew I was planning the party as I had shown him some photos of the walls I had already made. I showed him the sketch and said I was thinking of making it for Leons 21st.

Rowan looked at me and said “You can’t make that”, well that’s all I needed to hear. I didn’t know how, but  come hell or high water, I was making it. No matter what.

My reply to him was, “Yes I can it’s easy”.

He didn’t need to know that I had no Idea at the time. For the rest of the day I just kept on thinking about how I would carve an owl out of the foam boxes and lids that I had been collecting from work. The next day I made a more detailed sketch.

Once I had the finished sketch and was happy with the proportions of everything, I measured everything to scale and began carving the head. Now for this I did have a thicker piece of foam, so I started shaping the head with a sharp blade and when I was happy with the overall shape I finished it off with some sandpaper.

For the nose and eyes I just cut them out of a separate piece of foam, I then shaped them and glued them into place with 5min Araldite. I cut out some eyebrows and glued these into place as well, its amazing how these little things changed the look of the owls face and gave it some character.

The next step was to shape the body and add the small individual feathers to both the face and the chest area, this really started bringing him to life.

I knew I wanted him (the owl) to lean forward so I had to shape his body forward a bit
I also knew he was a boy because I checked :p.

Hmmmm. I think I need to give him a name as I can’t keep on calling him, “him”.

Ok from now on we shall call him Chester the owl.

I needed Chester to sit on a round object, I had to play around with the angles to get everything right before I cut the head and the body at the correct angle, once I had that right, I just glued them together with 5min Araldite and that was the end of stage one.

The next step was to carve out the legs and get the correct angles before glueing them in place. This is where you need another pair of hands because you need to be able to stand back and see it from a distance. It’s not hard, it’s about how you want the owl to perch on the ball.

In my next post I’ll tell you all about how I designed the wings…. stay tuned…..

Click here for the next installment

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