Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bird's Nest Ladder for the Entry

All most a year ago I built a ladder out of small sapling trees that had been thinned out of our woods (tutorial here). That ladder has been the basic support for many different displays in our entry way throughout the year. The ladder form is so often used in decor and for good reason. So much can be accomplished with it. This morning I disassembled my Forsythia ladder and constructed the Bird's Nest Ladder for April. What better theme is there for springtime than nests with tiny eggs, waiting to hatch?

This idea began last year when I started collecting bird's nests. For a project like this you have to plan ahead because abandoned bird's nests are a treasure, not rare but not in every tree either. They are also fragile and must be acquired with care. Some just disintegrate in your hands.

I knew I wanted to perch a nest in alternating corners of ladder, holding them in place with bittersweet vines twining up the ladder poles. Yesterday, I went to a local bittersweet patch at the end of a rural road armed with my clippers. I worked for a while to free a collection of bittersweet vines. I love them because they twist and curl in random ways.  Each branch has character.

However they grow amongst the prickers so they are a challenge to collect. I wore long pants, a long sleeved shirt and gloves. Back home,  I assembled a variety of things I tought might work in this display. In addition to the nests and vines, I got my pussy willows and feather collection. 

And then I started assembly. Here is my original ladder as I start to wind vines around the frame.

My goal was to create nooks of vines that would support the nests. And then I balance the nests in the web of vines. Below is a robin's nest harvested from the top of the light on David's studio.

At this point I took a break to make some eggs. It was clear the nests needed eggs. I didn't have any and figured I could make and bake a batch quicker than buying anything. The DIY way! I made a batch of salt dough clay using an online recipe - 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1 Tbs veg. oil, water until it forms a ball.

Once I had the desired consistency, I kneaded it to blend well and then formed eggs in a variety of sizes.

These I baked in my toaster oven at 250ºf for 1 hour. They hardened up nicely.

By then I was done adding vines, nests and pussy willows to the ladder. I put a few tiny, wispy feathers in each nest along with a few of the cream colored eggs.

Thinking it could use more pussy willows but I haven't found any. Every April I hunt the roadsides looking for a wild pussy willow bush.

Today I am going to spend some time creating a post with an overview of a year of ladders.  Check back to see the overview. Update: Just uploaded a post covering the entire year of ladders here. Worth a visit.

Here is a link to the tutorial on making the basic ladder. 

Have you ever developed something that you used all year, changing it with the seasons? If so, share in the comments.

© 2013 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy


Sharing this post at some of these link parties. They are worth checking out for other ideas.


  1. I like the decoration idea :)

    But I have a question: In Germany pussy willows are protected, even the ones one has in his own back yard. Because they are food for the bees. Isn't it the same over there with you? Just wondering...

    1. Pussy Willows are not protected here. The ones I used for this project were purchased in my grocery store because I have been unsuccessful in finding one in the wild near me.

    2. Put the ones you've bought in a ceramic or porcellain vase. Then they are in the dark and start growing roots. And after that you can plant them out in your back-/front yard :)) In two years or so you should have enough of them for decoration :)
      Have a fine weekend!

    3. I'll try that, although the ones I purchased were dry. Not sure if it still works that way, but worth a try. Thanks for the advice.

  2. Once again, lovin' your ladder creations! Beautiful. I think this is my favorite so far.

    1. I love the theme of this one and the individual elements. The corner that it is design for is dark and this arrangement needs more white in it. Still looking to add more.thanks for visiting and commenting.

  3. The ladder is awesome! I love the pussywillows. I just cut some myself the other day. They were just starting here. I need to go check them again.


    1. Wish I could find a bush to pick some annually. Haven't so far, and you have to find them now in bloom and mark them for next year. Once they are in leaf, I certainly can't identify them. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  4. Hello! Your blog is very interesting and creative.
    Greetings from Bulgaria!!!

  5. Oh I love your sapling ladder! And the eggs- what a great idea to make your own! The arrangement looks so pretty on your porch. The little down feathers added to the nest is the perfect touch.

    Linda at The French Hens Nest

    1. Thanks Linda, The eggs and feathers really perked up the display. I always collect the feathers I find on walks. It is like finding a treasure. Sometime they come in handy!

  6. This is all so sweet. I love all of the pictures!! I would love for you to come and share these on our Much Ado About Monday link party.

    Hope to see you there,

  7. I love all of your different collections. How fortunate you are to live in an area where you can simply collect nature. Really lovely display, too!

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  9. The bird nest and pussy willows look so cute together. I bought my bird house mansion and pussy willow lights from They have so many cute home decors!