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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Here Chick Chick - A Recycled Light Bulb Tutorial

Hi everyone!  As you can see, the buds are really, really trying to burst out here, but it's a struggle.  We actually had some snow the other night which fortunately didn't amount to much.  So since the weather hasn't been cooperating, I decided to make a step by step tutorial to show you how I created my altered light bulb chicken for one of my Mixed Media Studio challenges.

Ain't she cute?!  Here's the how-to in case you'd like to create one of your own.


First things first, you need a burnt out light bulb LOL!  I used one of those round vanity light bulbs that was lurking in my stash but a regular incandescent bulb would work too.   You will also need:
- cardstock in your chosen chicken feather colours (I used three colours)
- acrylic paints; a basecoat colour for the chickens body and three other colours to coordinate with your cardstock
- optional: distress stains and applicators in colours to coordinate with your cardstock (not shown as I decided to use it after I got going!)
- paintbrush; I used a #10 flat to basecoat and a 00 liner for the details
- acrylic glass/tile medium and metal primer
- scissors
- bone folder
- strong multi surface adhesive (I used E6000)
- 20 gauge wire, about a 5 foot length
- wire cutters and needle nose pliers
- clamp to hold wire as you twist it
- something to place your light bulb on as your paint dries (I found a roll of tape works very well)
- paper feather pattern from Lia Griffith (click here for her post on how to make the faux feathers and a link to her free pattern)
- wire bird feet tutorial at Living Felt


- prime the lightbulb with the glass/tile medium and metal primer, let dry well.
- while the primer is drying, print out Lia Griffith's feather pattern on three colours of cardstock; I used yellow, purple and kraft.
- cut out the feathers; we will be using both the small and large rounded feathers and the smallest of the straight feathers for this project.  Keep the others for another of your mixed media projects!
- before cutting the 'fringes' as instructed by Lia in her tutorial, distress the edges and the center vein of each feather using your coordinated colours of distress stain (I used Spiced Marmelade on the yellow cardstock, Seedless Preserves on the purple cardstock and Walnut Stain on the kraft cardstock)  This step is totally optional so if you don't have any distress stain, don't worry about it.
- cut the feather fringes as instructed in Lia's tutorial and divide the feathers into three piles; I mixed and matched colours and feather sizes to make two wings and the tail.

- round off the pointed ends of the feathers you are using for the wings and glue them together; use a small amount of glue at the end where the wings will be attached to the light bulb body.  Let dry.
- arrange the tail feathers as you like and then fold back a small piece of the pointed ends of the paper feathers so you have a flat surface to glue to the lightbulb; I probably folded back a 1/2" to 3/4" or so.  Glue the tail feathers together at this end and let dry.

- once your primer is dry on your lightbulb, glue the tail feathers to the lightbulb; position your 'chicken' on your tape roll stand in the position you want her when she is completed and adhere the folded ends of the tail feathers to the lightbulb.  Let dry.
- paint your basecoat of acrylic paint over the light bulb, covering the bent edges of the paper tail feathers where they are glued to the bulb.  I used Americana Buttermilk as my base colour.

- once your basecoat is dry, make small swirls all over the bulb with the 00 liner brush, using the three acrylic paint colours that coordinate with your cardstock.  I used Americana Mustard, Americana Cocoa and Ceramcoat Lavender.  Just place them here and there, have fun with it!
- let your swirls dry and then cut out a couple of small triangles from cardstock to make the chickens beak.  I used the kraft colour cardstock but use any colour you'd like.

- glue the cardstock triangles to the narrow end of the bulb and add a couple of dots with your 00 liner brush or a stylus for her eyes.

- now glue her wings on, one to each side and let dry completely.
- if you want, you can call her done now and just put her in a shallow bowl with some crinkle paper or straw :O)

- to make her wire legs, cut approximately 5 feet of 20 gauge wire and fold it in half.  Use a clamp to hold the folded end of the wire onto your work table and start twisting with your pliers.  Keep twisting until you have a nice tightly wrapped length of wire.  Cut the twisted wire into two equal lengths.
- take one of the twisted pieces of wire and measure down about 6 or 7" and bend the wire into a right angle to start the first toe of your birds foot.  Follow steps 4 through 8 at Living Felt's tutorial to make your chicken's feet.  Repeat with your second length of twisted wire.

- once you have her feet finished, measure up about 1" from her foot and make a flat loop of wire with the long tail you have left after making her feet.  The loop will be the surface that you will glue to the bottom of her light bulb body, so make the loop as tight and flat as you can.
- now comes the fiddly part!  Position your chicken onto her wire feet and manipulate the flat loop of wire by bending gently until the loops lie as tight as you can make them to the light bulb body.  Once you are happy with the postion, glue the loops of wire onto the bottom of your chicken's body with the E6000 glue and let dry completely, at least 24 hours to be on the safe side (ask me how I know!!)

- once the glue has dried completely, you can gently bend her legs and toes so that she will sit squarely for you.  And ta-da!  That's it, your Here Chick Chick Recycled Light Bulb Chicken is finished!

I hope that you will have fun making your own recycled light bulb chicken and please send me a picture of your completed project or a link to your blog post, I'd love to see it!  Happy creating everyone,



  1. What a fun idea and a great tutorial! Brilliant stuff Deb!

  2. So whimsical I love it. I must say Deb I think your dogs are adorable . So much like my three, we also have a big dog (Atticus) a Queen(Daisy) and the deliquent (Rufus). Hilarious!

  3. They are just tooooo cute. Great job.

  4. Girl you rock, and you should put that on Pinterest.


  5. How fantastic and what a great tutorial, Deb!
    I adore how fun your chick came out.
    You really did have a lightbulb moment!

  6. That turned out so cute! Thanks for the tutorial, too. Can we make some turkeys, too? They sure would be neat! Enjoy your weekend! Hugs, Diane

  7. You're so smart. Why didn't I think about leaving instructions to stuff. You are so full of cute idea's.This one is adorable!

  8. Your chick is adorable:)

    It's unseasonably cold here but I have one small plant flowering. A tiny little blue primrose. I was shocked as I planted it last year and didn't realize that they bloom so early. There is hope for better weather....:)


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