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CHAPTER X
BIRDS' NESTS

AT the Bird Market in Paris fascinating little nests are sold. They are woven on spokes of twigs with weavers of rush. Why should not American children, who are learning to know and love the birds, make these inviting houses and hang them in the branches of trees for the wrens and other bird neighbors to settle in? Of course they must be inconspicuous in material and finish, for no self-respecting and self-preserving bird would choose a gaily colored or decorated nest. So it will be wise to make use of all the natural materials we can find — rush and raffia and perhaps even willow twigs and grasses; and when we use rattan let us stain it with dull shades of brown, green or gray.


Green Rush Bird's Nest

Materials: 6 14-inch spokes of No. 3 rattan,

  8-inch spoke of No. 3 rattan,

                   1/4 weaver of No. 2 rattan,

                   Green rush,

                   1 strand of raffia,

                   A piece of wire 6 inches long about the size of No. 1 rattan,

                   A pair of pliers.

Flat rush in its natural color, dull green, is used in weaving this little nest which will be soft and comfortable and suggestive of meadows and quiet streams to the fortunate bird who finds it. It is begun in the same way as the first baskets, with two groups of spokes crossed in the centre. A weaver of rush is bound around the spokes twice, then another weaver is started and the nest is woven in pairing into a bowl shape which, at about two and a half inches from the centre, should be eleven inches in circumference. This is the widest point. A row of pairing in No. 2 rattan is next woven and then the doorway is made. A weaver of rush is started in under-and-over weaving and woven until it comes to the part of the nest which has been chosen for the front. Here it is doubled back around a spoke and woven from right to left until it comes to the second spoke to the right of the one it first doubled around. It is brought around this spoke, thus making the beginning of a doorway, having an unused spoke in the centre of it. The weaver then returns to the spoke it first doubled around, where it doubles back again; and this is repeated until the weaver has been brought around five times on each side of the doorway, the spokes being slightly drawn in each time, so as to make the wigwam shape shown in the picture. After the weaver has been brought around the spoke on the right of the doorway the fifth time, at the point where the under-and-over weaving began, a second weaver is started and the nest is finished in pairing. The more slender rushes are used near the top so that the spokes can be drawn in very closely. The spoke in the centre of the doorway is now cut close to the weaving at the bottom of the opening and after it has been wet until pliable it is bent and pushed up between the weaving of the upper part of the nest, beside its own upper end. A strand of raffia is wound several times around the ends of the spokes at the top and tied in a loop by which the nest may be suspended from a convenient branch. A nest like this is often hung in an aviary or cage and when it is to be used in this way a hook made as follows is inserted at the back of the nest. A piece of wire, about as thick as No. 1 rattan and six inches long, is bent into a shape like Fig. 23, and pushed in between the weaving at the back of the nest (from the outside) at about an inch and a half from the centre. It passes up behind four or five rows of weaving, the ends coming out just below the row of pairing in No. 2 rattan, where they are bent down to form a hook or pair of hooks.



FIG. 23


Rattan Bird's Nest with Raffia Top


Materials: 8 20-inch spokes of No. 4 rattan,

  1 11-inch spoke of No. 4 rattan,

                   4 1/2 weavers of No. 2 rattan,

                   1 strand of raffia,

                   A knitting needle.

In starting this nest the spokes are crossed and bound as for a basket, except that from the very centre they are turned up in a bowl shape. It is woven in under-and-over weaving in No. 2 rattan until at three inches and a quarter from the centre it measures fourteen inches in circumference. Here a doorway is made as already described, except that two spokes, instead of one, are left un­used in the middle of the doorway, making a larger opening, and the weavers, which are doubled back to form the doorway, turn thirteen times. As in the green rush nest the spokes are drawn in by tightening the weavers from the bottom of the doorway up to the top of the nest, where they come together like the poles of a wigwam. At about an inch and three-quarters from the top of the doorway the spokes come so close together that it is almost impossible to use a rattan weaver, so a strand of raffia is started in under-and-over weav­ing and woven for an inch and a quarter into a soft roof. The two unused spokes in the doorway are next cut close to the weaving, at the top and bot­tom of the opening, and a rattan ring, by which to hang the nest, is made as follows: Half a weaver of No. 2 rattan, which has been wet until perfectly pliable, is passed, from the outside, through the top of the nest just under the last row of rattan, and out on the opposite side. Here it is tied through the other end of the weaver into a ring three and three-quarters inches in diameter. The ends are twisted around and around this foundation ring, as described on page 39, three or four times, passing through the top of the nest in each circuit until, when the ring is thick enough, each end is brought under one spoke, over another, and then cut short and pressed inside the nest. It should be finished with a coat of creosote shingle stain in gray, dull green or brown.



BIRDS' NESTS
The large nests in the foreground are of rattan. The small one on the right is of brown rush, the neat above it is of raffia woven im rattan spokes, and the one on the left is matte of a gourd covered with a netting of raffia


Raffia and Rattan Bird's Nest

Materials: 8 14-inch spokes of No. 3 rattan,

   8-inch spoke of No. 3 rattan,

                    1 1/2 weavers of No. 2 rattan,

                     A bunch of raffia,

                     A tapestry needle, No. 19.

A nest which has the scent of the woods about it is woven of raffia and rattan. It is soft, light and firm, and as pretty as can be. Two groups of spokes, one of four and the other of four and a half, are crossed in the centre, bound three times with a strand of raffia and woven in under-and­-over weaving into a bottom an inch and a half in diameter. Here another weaver is added and an inch of pairing woven, forming the bottom into a bowl shape with sides rounding up from the very centre. A row of pairing in No. 2 rattan is next woven, to hold the slippery raffia firmly in place. This is followed by five-eighths of an inch of raffia in pairing, the sides still being flared. Then two rows of pairing in No. 2 rattan are woven, drawing the spokes in very slightly. At this point, the widest, the nest should measure eleven inches in circumference. A row of under-and-over weaving is started, and at the place chosen for the doorway the weaver is doubled back on two spokes, one on either side of a spoke in the centre of the doorway, and a doorway is formed as in previous de­scriptions. The weavers are doubled around the spokes which form the sides of the doorway eight times. Two rows of pairing in No. 2 rattan are then woven all the way around, forming a firm top for the doorway where they cross it. The spokes are drawn in closer and closer with rows of pairing in raffia until, when an inch and a half has been woven, they meet at the top. They are left un­even lengths and bound around several times with a strand of raffia, threaded through a tapestry needle. A loop made of two strands of raffia, five and a half inches long, is then covered close with button-hole stitch in raffia, which makes it neat and strong enough to hold the picturesque little nest securely in place. The spoke in the centre of the doorway should be cut, at the lower part of the opening just above the weaving, and, after it has been wet until quite pliable, bent and pressed up beside the upper part of the same spoke between the weaving. A hook, like the one previously described, may be added if the nest is to be hung in a cage or aviary.


Rattan Bird's Nest with Twisted Handle

Materials: NEST-6 24-inch spokes of No. 4 rattan,

   1 13-inch spoke of No. 4 rattan,

                                6 1/2 weavers of No. 2 rattan,

          HANDLE-1 15-inch spoke of No. 4 rattan,

    1 weaver of No. 2 rattan,

                                 A knitting needle.

This nest is larger than any of the others de­scribed in this chapter, and is not closed at the top in the wigwam shape. The bottom is more like a basket than those of the other nests, being woven, in under-and-over weaving, into a flat centre two inches in diameter. The spokes are then wet until quite pliable and turned upward with a very slight flare for about five-eighths of an inch, where they are flared much more, and the weaver is left quite loose until about two inches more have been woven, when the circumference should measure seventeen inches. From here the spokes are gradually drawn in, with a tightened weaver, and at about three inches from the bottom the doorway is formed. The weavers on either side of the doorway are doubled back eleven times, drawing them in slightly each time. Two inches and a quarter of weaving are made above the doorway and then, when the opening at the top is about two inches in diameter, it is bound off and finished with this border. The spokes having been wet until they are thoroughly pliable, each is brought back of the next one on the right, in front of the next and then down inside the nest. A handle is made in this way. The ends of the fifteen-inch spoke are inserted, one on either side of the nest, at about three and three-quarters inches from the top, beside a spoke. On this foundation a weaver of No. 2 rattan is wound, as described on page 53, making a twisted handle. The nest is then colored a wood-brown with creosote shingle stain.


Bird's Nest Made of a Gourd Covered with Knotted Raffia

Materials: A round gourd about 11 1/2 inches in circumference,

A bunch of raffia,

        A flat stick about 1 inch wide and 1/2 a yard long,

A tapestry needle, No. 19,

                        A pair of scissors.

The negroes in the South often nail gourds to poles and trees for the birds to nest in. Borrowing their idea, why not inclose a gourd in knotted raffia, suspending it by a soft handle of braided raffia, which can be so twisted as to hold the nest at the angle best calculated to suit its tenants? If you are so fortunate as to have a gourd vine growing in your garden the most important part of this nest will be easily obtained. If not, however, you can probably buy one for a few cents at a shop where natural curiosities are sold. The one in the picture came from such a shop, but then it had a long, twisted handle. This was cut short, and then fourteen strands of raffia were knotted around a stick, as described in the directions for a knotted work bag in Chapter II. When five rows of knotting had been completed, the work was slipped off and finished. A strand of raffia was next passed through the lowest meshes and drawn up tight. The ends of the strands were cut close at the bottom, and after two small holes had been made, half an inch apart, through the soft gourd at about quarter of an inch from the edge and exactly opposite the stump of the handle, the knotted bag was drawn up over the gourd and fastened by passing a mesh of the first row over the handle. It was further secured by threading a strand of raffia through the loops at the top of the knotted bag, drawing it up close around the opening at the top and passing the ends through the holes in the front of the gourd, where they were firmly tied.

A braided handle was made as follows: Six strands of raffia, doubled in the centre, were braided until the braid (each strand of which was made of four strands of raffia) was long enough to reach up (from the outside) through the hole where the handle was cut off, out over the edge of the gourd and back to the starting point, where it was passed through the loop in the end of the braid. Here it was braided in two plaits, three inches and a quarter long, which were brought over in a double handle to the edge of the gourd, where the strands were all united again in one braid. This was brought down for about an inch inside of the gourd, where it was tied fast to the first braid and the ends cut short, completing this curious little nest.


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