Molding bird seed into various shapes does not require any extensive knowledge, materials or expense. In fact, it is something the whole family can do together. Bells, wreaths and even handmade or cookie-cutter shapes can be made as ornaments on holidays or given as gifts. Making your own bird seed shapes can be decorative, functional or both. Larger blocks or tubes can serve as an anytime-nibbler for caged feathered friends.
The method used for binding bird seed into shapes depends on two things–size and shape. Molding larger tubes or blocks is best done with either egg whites or corn syrup, as they will not be handled further after the mixture is baked and cooled. Making ornaments or pieces that require handling and that will be adorned with other objects after molding is better served by using a mixture of gelatin, corn syrup, water and flour. Both the egg whites and corn syrup method require slow baking at approximately 150 degrees F, for 60 to 90 minutes (depending on size). The gelatin, corn syrup, water and flour mixture requires dissolving a gelatin with water in a sauce pan and stirring in corn syrup and flour.
Bird Seed Bells and Blocks
Usually hung outside or in bird cages, these forms of bird seed are best made using oven-safe or terra cotta pots. Terra cotta comes in many form shapes and sizes. Your local garden store may have many shaped terra cotta forms. Coat the bird seeds with either egg whites or corn syrup–just enough that every seed is lightly cover. The egg whites should be beaten well, until frothy but not to meringue. Use a large bowl so that even coating is assured. Line the mold with wax paper and press bird seed mixture firmly into it. Make it as hard-packed as possible. Insert a small-gauge wire into the middle of the form long enough to use as a hanger when finished. Bake on low heat (150 to 200 degrees F) for approximately 60 to 90 minutes–until the mixture has dried out and shows a slight glistening. Let it cool for two to three hours before unmolding.
Ornaments and Art Projects
Melt one package of gelatin in 1/2 cup water, remove from heat and stir in 3 tbsp. corn syrup and 3/4 cup flour. Let cool for approximately three minutes and stir in four cups of bird seed. The mixture can now be used to form any shape, within reason. Don't exceed 1 foot in any dimension, as it might become brittle and crack when dry. The final products should be left out to dry for two days to assure they can be handled without fear of fragility.