Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bird Cage Makeover

When I bought our male budgie "Humble" a number of years ago, I answered an ad in our local paper that said the owner had a baby budgie for sale, with cage and accessories for $15. I went to pick up my new little pet and was both excited and unhappy when I saw his cage. On the one hand, the cage was clearly not big enough for him to remain in very long. But, on the other hand, the cage was absolutely delightful to look at - a real vintage metal cage with a lovely shape and loads of potential. I bought a new cage for Humble very soon afterwards and relegated the old cage to the barn, thinking that I would have a creative moment some time soon and transform it into something else. Well, eight years have gone by and finally I've transformed it!

Yesterday, Donna over at An Enchanted Cottage revealed a charming makeover of her "swingset garden" and included in her pictures was a sweet one of a birdcage planter she has made. She linked to a previous blog where she explained how she made the planter (Donna's instructions for a birdcage planter). I loved what she had done and have to give her full credit for the inspiration for my own birdcage makeover.

So yesterday afternoon, inspired by Donna's blog and finally ready to tackle this job, I headed out to the barn to dig out that old birdcage. The last 8 years have taken their toll, I was actually rather delighted to see that the "fake brass" paint has chipped away leaving a lovely rusty cage to begin the project.

Here's how it looked before I started:

My first step was to brush on a "shabby" coat of cream-coloured paint, using loads of paint thinner so the rust would show through in lots of spots.

Next, I rooted around in my kitchen for a "dollar-store" plastic container that would work as a planting insert, puncturing a few holes in the bottom to allow for drainage. I chose several different colours of alyssum and an asparagus fern because I wanted something delicate and tiny to match the scale of the birdcage, and also because I love the sweet fragrance of alyssum.

Once I had assembled the planter, I needed a stand as I didn't think it would be safe to hang it. I finally decided on this old iron cafe chair, another "found" item that I discovered in the scrap pile at our shop (see Objet Trouve). I used an old board to give it extra stability underneath since the chair has no seat in it.  When I painted the cage, I had removed the glass inserts on the sides. In returning them, I deliberately did not clean them because I really liked the way the "rust" stains on the glass hid the plastic container from view and added to the "shabby chic" look.

But I felt something was missing. Donna had used a lovely little garden sculpture in her birdcage. I wracked my brain to think of what I had on hand that would be small enough. And then inspiration struck - this pretty  coloured-glass butterfly suncatcher would look beautiful hanging above the alyssum!

So here's what the final product looks like:

I haven't yet decided if the chair needs repainting. It might be a little more "shabby" than is strictly necessary in its current state!


  1. I love it! Very gardenesque!
    You are giving me ideas about what to do with an old aquarium I have sitting around.
    I do think the chair needs repainting...Maybe a contrast to the cage...

  2. lovely, much better than leaving a wee bird in there.

  3. That is beautiful! What a great idea! I can't wait to see what it looks like after the flowers have grown!!

  4. Very pretty! I would have never thought to do that! I'm with Java...would love to see a picture in about six weeks.

  5. My first comment somehow disappeared, so if this shows up twice, please forgive!

    I LOVE the way your project turned out!! And I am so happy that Humble and Winky have a BIG new home! I grew up in the 1950's. Our family and my Nana & Gamp always had parakeets, and they all lived in those tiny cages back then. Talk about cramped quarters.

    Your birdcage shape is beautiful! And the whole project turned out beautifully! I love it painted, I love the flowers you chose, the chair it's sitting on, and the perfect finishing touch - your butterfly hovering over the flowers!

    Thanks so much for linking back to my blog. I'd like to also mention your cage on mine, if you don't mind!

    Have a wonderful week!


  6. That turned out really lovely. I am with everyone else on the chair. I am thinking it probably needs a new "do" also for contrast. Sorry to give you more work. However, the birdcage came out FANTASTIC. And I echo someone else's comment about looking forward to a picture when the flowers have grown out some. Excellent job Ro!

  7. Yeah, I'm thinking I'm gonna have to suck it up and repaint the chair. It's in pretty rough shape. And I will definitely post a picture in a while once the flowers have established themselves more.

    Donna, you are more than welcome to mention my cage on your blog. I would be honoured! :)

  8. I love the look of your bird cage you finished. Now that was a cute idea. Thanks for stopping by for a visit. I just got back on after my short vacation (of sorts that is) stop by again and see what happened. Take carea and God Bless.

  9. Hi!
    I found you from visiting Donna, at The Enchanted Cottage, where she did a birdcage planter also. You both have done WONDERFUL things with your birdcages - they look so cute! Please come on over to my blog and see what I did with my birdcages (you may have to scroll to a different post though!)
    Have a great week,

  10. i might actually try sanding off more of the paint on the chair. i like the shabby chic stuff! Pretty flower arrangement, Helen!

  11. That's a great and wounder full.I read and really impressed from ypur topic.It's related to bird cage planters. I like your article and shared with my friends.Thanks for submission.....



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