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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Feathering The Nest Bird Seed Hangers

Our daughter's bridal shower theme was "Feathering The Nest", which opened up a whole array of ideas in which to expand on that theme. What to do for favors to give out to her guests was decided with the help of the many ideas found on Pinterest. What we did before Pinterest now escapes me, for having such a file cabinet of ideas for anything we can imagine is awesome. I don't know who to give credit to for the original source for these bird seed hangers, but hope this clever craft idea gets passed around again.

These would also make great projects to do with  children. To learn about our environment and helping out the birds is always much more enjoyable when the activity is a hands-on.

Before you get started, gather your materials. You will need:

- One bag of bird seed.
The type is up to you. I used the more inexpensive blend of white and red millet, black sunflower seeds, cracked corn and safflower seed.

- Unflavored gelatin.
One small box holds four packages or envelopes gelatin. This recipe calls for two packages or envelopes. I doubled the recipe and used all four envelopes, which resulted in about 24 seed hangers.
That may vary depending on the size of your individual mold shapes.

- Silicone molds or trays.
The flexible molds can be found in cake decorating stores, candy making departments, and in craft sections. The come in a variety of shapes and sizes and themes.

- Ribbon or cord for hanging.
I used raffia cord to go with my natural, country theme, but you can use anything you want for hanging purposes.

From your kitchen supplies you will need:
A large bowl for mixing
A one cup size measuring cup for measuring out the birdseed.
A pyrex measuring cup used for liquids for measuring out the water.
A small whisk to quickly dissolve the gelatin into the water.
A large spoon for mixing and dipping out into the molds.

Have your loops for hanging ready:
Cut pieces of raffia or ribbon into lengths of about 4 - 5 inches.
Knot the ends together to make the loops.

To assemble:
 Pour 2 packages of unflavored gelatin into the large bowl.
Add 1 cup water to the gelatin and whisk to dissolve.
Add 2 cups birdseed to the liquid mixture and stir to blend well.

Using the spoon, scoop out the moistened bird seed and press firmly into the mold shapes.
Press the knotted part of each ribbon or raffia down into the molds so its about half way down, then cover over.

Place the mold trays into the refrigerator for about two or more hours so they firm up.
Remove the trays from the refrigerator and pop each mold out onto a cookie sheet of plates.
Let them undisturbed to air dry for a few days. They will harden. If using a cookie sheet or plate you will need to turn them every day so the bottoms dry.

Once hardened, the bird seed hangers are ready to hang outside for the birds.

If using as a gift, put each one in a baggie, twist tie the top closed and add a tag if you want.
For our shower, we added a business card size tag which had the bride's name, the date and a little message printed on them. We punched a hole in a corner and using additional raffia cord, the baggies were tied shut.

For our table display, we put all the favors into a large crafted bird nest I found through an Etsy seller.

 These favors were a delight, but we did notice a few things worth mentioning:
1. Once in the baggies, unless the favors were totally dry before putting in the baggie, they tend to soften a bit again. Hopefully the guests will open them once they get home so they receive some air, or they may mold.
2. Unflavored gelatin has its own distinct odor once mixed with water. Not a big deal, just an observation.