To achieve a dimensional composition while maintaining a single image, first analyze print to determine what elements, in addition to birds, will be used in final composition. Keep one print intact to use as guide throughout project. Cut birds, then entire large branch (the base) from prints. Determine which part of birds is elevated and feathered and then which feathers are done first. (Usually start with tail feathers.) Within each section, feathers that lie farthest back or underneath are cut, feathered and molded first. The feathers that lie closest to top or seem to are applied last. Also, the parts of bird which lie farthest back are done first and those closest to front are last. One entire cut bird is used as a “base print”-all individual feathers will be applied to this one. This bird should be shaped well from back to form a nicely rounded body. Achieve by running burnisher firmly along print edge. Apply coat of white glue to print back. After dry, shape again. Undercut.
Two techniques, undercutting and overcutting are used to achieve a single image. Undercutting is making a print smaller by cutting away parts of print. Cover with an identical print piece of actual size. Result- a single image.(Illustration 1) Overcutting is cutting more-such as cutting a feather on one side and through part of next feather. Feather A is overcut into next feather then glued on base print. Feather B will also be overcut from another print and placed to cover overcut of Feather A. This is continued until entire group of feathers in section is elevated. (Illustration 2a) Only one side is ‘feathered’ because uncut side will be covered by another feather and win not be seen. (Illustration 2b) The last/top feather of a section must be feathered on both sides since both will show. (Illustration 2c) This procedure is merely a method to achieve dimension without multiple images-it is a layering process.
All of bird’s feathers are done in this manner. As individual feathers are cut, feather using straight blade scissors. Tiny cuts are made parallel to each other along feather. Shape feathers using burnisher after feathering. Any white print edges should be watercolored. (Do not use felt tip pens. Print cut edge absorbs too much ink and is likely to become darker than print.) Watercolored pieces may require second shaping to restore contour. Apply feathers one by one to each section of bird. Head, eyes and beak-usually done last. Apply legs, feet and claws next. Branch is shaped from back, coated with glue and shaped again after glue dries. Cut branch pieces from other prints (use about 7 copies), into small sections and “scrunch”, shape, and apply to base branch piece by piece.
It may be helpful to put a “Band-Aid” on back of a large piece such as this branch after shaping, gluing and shaping again. To do this attach strip of paper to each side of shaped branch to help branch keep its curve. Glue to branch from the back: (Illustration 3.) Cut and shape dogwood blossoms. To make stamen: “feather” quilling paper on one side, roll to form a tight coil, touch tips with a little paint for realism and add to flower centers. (Illustration 4) Add some of non-elevated print to corners of mats on both elevations. Assemble and mount composition. Silicone sealer can be placed under larger sections of birds/branches to give more dimension, but it should not show.