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Ceramic Birdhouse

Diane Cook's creations combine form with function, delighting human and aviary users alike.

Usually when the word "birdhouse" is used, the mental picture is one of a square wooden shape hung from a tree limb. Diane Cook has created ceramic birdhouses in the shape of teapots that work just as well and are more attractive for all who use them — whether they have arms or wings.

Diane starts by throwing the body of the teapot to get the right size for birds to use. She also throws the lid and the spout on the wheel. She then pulls the handle from the same batch of clay.

Once all the basic pieces are complete, they are joined to make the final form of the teapot. In order to make it usable, there must be somewhere for the birds to get in, so Diane cuts a window-like hole in the side of the teapot body. She only cuts three sides, leaving the fourth (top edge) to act as a hinge. The clay is then bent up, that section of wall becoming a canopy of sorts over the bird entrance.

Once the body is complete, Diane begins work on the embellishments. She hand sculpts leaves, flowers, insects or vines to add a decorative element to the form. At this point, all the elements are in place, and the birdhouse is left to dry for a week. It is then bisque fired and finally glazed. The body and embellishments are each colored individually, a clear glaze is added on top of the colors, and the birdhouse returns to the kiln.

After all of these firings are complete, the birdhouse is cleaned up and can then be filled with seed and put in a garden or yard. They are attractive enough to set in the center of an outdoor dining table and sturdy enough to be set on a pedestal anywhere else in the yard.

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