Family and friends have asked where I get ideas for my various DIY/blog projects.  Sometimes, I go to the “Goddess” of Pinterest and look for upcycled and transformed pieces to see how others have done them. Often, folks reach out to ask what they can do with a certain thrift store find and how to make it look cool and contemporary. 

And thankfully, I have been blessed to be surrounded by many wonderful people who inspire me with their presence and positivity.  

This week’s blog project came to me from the universe and a beloved friend Sultana. Spending time recently with her in her beautiful home, I loved the decorations and wall art.  She had several prints and paintings with birds on top of their cages, something I had not seen before.  She shared she liked the message behind them, that “you are flying free from old cages” as you grow and your thoughts evolve.  

Her wisdom directed me to a quote.  “A bird that leaves the cage is a bird that can finally fly and live,” said Avijeet Das, poet and writer from New Delhi, India.

On the way home from our time together, I found one of the pieces featured here that had a bird on the outside of a cage!  Clearly, it was meant to be.  Here is how I interpreted that wonderful message in four different DIY projects. 

Thanks to Sultana for being the inspirational and wonderful spirit you are!  I know you will continue to soar to new heights in all you do!

DIY Interpretation 1:  A metal wall hanger reflects the sky

Here’s how:

This art piece that decorates the wall AND provides a place to hang items was the piece I found after being with my friend.  It was solidly built but was black, so a color transformation was in order.  

1. Place your piece on a drop cloth outside or in a very well-ventilated space. 

2. Apply a light coat of teal-tone spray paint, semi or gloss finish. 

3.  Spray on another light layer of another blue tone; Robin’s eye blue is great and very fitting for this bird-themed project.  Ensure you move around the piece to get the wire’s sides, too.  Don’t apply a solid second coat; rather, allow the first layer to show through for visual interest. 

4.  Repeat again with a third blue tone if so inspired, again allowing the earlier layers and colors to be seen. 

5. Apply stickers or clippings with upbeat phrases by the bird to make this piece a truly inspirational one.  6. Hang by your front door to hold keys and hats, or place it in your bedroom to hold jewelry.

DIY Interpretation 2:  A thrifted canvas becomes stenciled art

Here’s how:

Have you ever noticed that when you spray paint something on a drop cloth, the shape/shadow of the item is left behind when you remove it?  You can follow this approach and make an art piece using another item’s shape; in this case, it was the bird on a cage wire piece.  

1. Put down a drop cloth outside and place your thrift store-found canvas (painted white) on it. 

2.  Place your bird art on top and apply several light layers of various shades of blue spray paint.  Be sure NOT to move your bird art until several layers have been added. 

3. After adding several paint layers, remove your bird art to reveal the image/shapes left behind. 

4. Fill in the lines and spots on the canvas with white and silver craft paint and a small detail paintbrush.  Consider using a paint marker, too. 

5.  Paint the bird’s features and feathers using craft paint or markers. 

6.  Along the outer edge of the cage, add inspirational messages (a collection of these stickers was picked up at a local craft/hobby store). 

7.  Hang in your home or give it as a gift to make all who see it smile!

DIY Interpretation 3:  A folk art caged bird is freed & brightened up, too

Here’s how:

During a previous excursion to Goodwill, I came across this antique art piece with a round bird cage that was home to a little blue bird.  But for some reason, I didn’t really care for it until I saw Sultana’s art piece and knew the bird had to be freed for it to speak to me and others.  

1. The little bird decoration was held in place by string, so it was cut with scissors, and the bird was taken out of its cage.  (I wonder how long he had been living inside?) 

2. White craft paint was used to give the piece an overall brighter look.  Use a flat, medium-sized craft paintbrush and apply several light layers to cover its original tone. 

3. Teal blue paint was applied in several layers, too, to the piece’s black base. 

4. The little blue bird was glued on top and outside of the cage using quick-drying epoxy glue to hold him in place on his new perch. 

5.  Inspiring messages were glued along the base to underscore its transformational feel and new look. 

DIY Interpretation 4:  Outdoor walk-way lamps flip in their new role as freed bird art

Here’s how:

Outdoor walkway lamps are dismantled and repurposed as charming bird-free cage art pieces.  These lamps now go from being in the dark to shining brightly as whimsical decorative pieces.  

1. Unscrew and take apart the outdoor lamp keeping only the frame which goes around the fixture and glass part. 

2. On a drop cloth and outdoors, spray on white paint, semi-gloss, or gloss finish. 

3. Ensure you get all parts and edges by flipping the lamp pieces upside down and on their sides. 

4. Spritz on silver spray paint to add some shine and sparkle. 

5.  Small cement birds, salvaged from a broken bird bath, get a new look with several sprayed paint layers in blue tones. 

6. Place the lamp part top down so it becomes a bird cage; use quick-drying epoxy glue to secure the bluebird on top of its former home. 

7. Embellish with upbeat messages to make these pieces inspirational, too! 

You will love thinking outside the box—and cage—as you create joyful pieces with a lovely metaphor/message behind them.  “A bird in a cage is safe, but God didn’t create birds for that,” wrote Paulo Coelho de Souza, author of The Alchemist, who is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  We wholeheartedly agree!  

Thanks again to Sultana for the inspirational way you approach life—and your art-. Thanks to Finding Your Good for encouraging our community to fly, too!

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Tim Kime

Artist, Motivational Speaker, Life Coach

Tim Kime is an artist, life coach, and connector. He is the President of Kime Leadership Associates, offering executive coaching, meeting facilitating, and motivational speaking. He is also the Chief Creative Force of Transformation Junkies which upcycles furniture and other household items into functional works of art. He combined his two passions—unleashing the potential in people and transforming items with the launch of the Art of Possibilities Workshops. These workshops are part upcycling, part dreaming, and part goal setting.