In my last post, I told my tale of creating a three-dimensional chicken cake for my daughter’s birthday. I also promised to share the chicken-themed crafts that were preparedfor the birthday girl. It’s only fair that I follow through on that promise.
I found several patterns for chickens that leaned more toward the cartoon end of the spectrum. While I appreciated their humorous bent, I was looking for something more realistic. I knew that my daughter would love whatever I made, but I also knew that she would really treasure something that resembled our flock of chickens here at 1840 Farm. I spent hours looking at patterns before finding exactly what I had been looking for.
The Spring Chicken pattern was the clear winner. I gathered my knitting needles and yarn and started to work up the first chicken. I planned for them to be about 5 inches tall when they were complete. My hope was that my daughter would be able to use them when she played with her beloved American Girl Dolls. As I knitted, I could picture her playing with her dolls and using these chickens to pretend that they were chicken keepers just like her.
Of course, I couldn’t stop there. I decided that a removable roof might come in handy for moving the chickens in and out of the coop. In order to separate the roof from the base of the house, I had to use a screwdriver to pry it loose. Once I had, I used a little craft glue along the seams of the individual pieces to help reattach them and stabilize the roof structure.
From here, it was time to decorate. I enlisted the help of my mother, who is an excellent painter for this duty. She painted the pieces and added a few details that we knew my daughter would enjoy. We thought of painting it to match our actual coop, but decided that this was the perfect opportunity to indulge my daughter’s deep love of all things pink. While I had held firm last year when she requested that we paint our chicken coop pink, I gave in here and was happy to make her play coop almost entirely pink.
My mother meticulously painted the doors on the side of the play coop to imitate the doors on the nest boxes of our coop. She added a sunflower and used the remaining circle base of the removed perch as its center. She painted the peak of the coop red to match our coop’s peak. In a nod to my daughter’s love of all things Harry Potter, she even painted the name “Henwarts” on the front of the play coop.
Using a small length of wooden dowel, a decorative chicken button, and a little glue, we even constructed a realistic looking weather vane for the top of the play coop. For a girl who had chosen a chicken-themed birthday celebration, this was shaping up to be the perfect gift.
When my son saw the coop and the completed chickens, he pointed out the gaping hole in my chicken gift-giving plan. I hadn’t made any eggs for this play coop. How could I have forgotten the eggs after waiting so long for our own chickens to lay their first batch?
Luckily, it was still a few days before my daughter’s birthday. My son and I sat down at the kitchen table with a few packages of oven bake clay and set about making a collection of eggs. I started working with white and tan clay to make a few eggs until my son stopped me.
He didn’t want to make realistic looking eggs. He reminded me that this was in fact a play coop for a girl who loves all things bright and colorful. He wanted to make eggs in the likeness of our colored Easter eggs. He was right, so we did. After they had baked and dried, we had a lovely clutch of multicolored eggs to accompany the play coop and chickens.
When my daughter’s birthday arrived, she was thrilled with the chicken-themed cake and handmade gifts. While the cake is long gone, she has spent hours since then playing with the coop, chickens and clay eggs. All of the time spent knitting, painting, and planning had been well worth it.
Here’s hoping that next year’s birthday will be just as memorable. Until then, I’m going to take a break from play coop construction, at least for the summer. I’ll return to my chicken-themed crafting once the snow starts flying outside, not that I’m in any hurry for it to do so. I’ll try and get a head start on the next craft project for my daughter’s play flock. Who knows, when next year’s birthday comes around, I may need to build them a chicken tractor.