A Bird a Day

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Birds on sticks, made by Dana Froom as part of her "A Bird a Day" project.

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Cloth birds, made by Dana Froom as part of her "A Bird a Day" project.

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A collage of bright, colorful birds, made by Dana Froom as part of her "A Bird a Day" project.

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A bird of paper, made by Dana Froom as part of her "A Bird a Day" project.

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More birds, made by Dana Froom as part of her "A Bird a Day" project.

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Birds drawn on an Etch A Sketch screen by Dana Froom as part of her "A Bird a Day" project.

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Dana Froom works on one of her birds for her "A Bird a Day" project.

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Birds, by Dana Froom as part of her "A Bird a Day" project.

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One bird made by Dana Froom as part of her "A Bird a Day" project.

"I think there's a party going on, in the big tree in my back lawn.

I hear some music playing softly, as I drink my morning coffee.

I look up and am surprised to see, an owl playing the ukulele.

My neighbor's macaw, paying the harmonica.

A lonely pigeon, playing the violin …"


Those are the beginning words of a poem, "Treetop Bebop," and it was written on day No. 22 in Dana Froom's year-long project.

This late October day is No. 97 of the Walla Walla woman's quest to create - using infinite mediums - a "A Bird a Day," as she has titled the concept.

The idea is to make something bird-themed every single day until July 16, 2012, she said, and her record is spotless thus far.

It's obvious Froom, who works at the Walla Walla Public Library, is flying high with the whole thing. Take day No. 49, for example. She's always wanted to experiment with a henna tattoo, the artist recalled. Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days presented the perfect opportunity.

Froom found a temporary ink vendor and looked through all the bird designs. "Finally I found one I really liked, I believe it was a peacock. It covered most of my arm."

Even better was the reaction from others, who had a hard time believing the library employee would use that expression of art, Froom said with a smile.

Then there's the 70th day, when she decided to make an Etch A Sketch her canvas. The finely-detailed black and gray portrait of a father penguin and his baby- accomplished on a third go-round with the toy's testy knobs - attest to patience, and lots of it.

"I'd been watching March of the Penguins. Once I did it, (the sketch) took an hour to do, but it took two hours to get used to the Etch A Sketch … it had been several years since I played with one."

The daily birds hatched after Froom participated in something similar for a work project, "A School A Day."

She's been interested in art forever, after all, "pretty much as soon as I could pick up a crayon." Add in nature and it seemed like an idea that could take flight.

Why not birds, she thought. "There are so many species and shapes and colors, I knew I'd have a wide variety to choose from. I could use any type of material."

A test of her commitment came right away on the second day. Froom spent 10 hours creating a "quilled" blue and gold macaw parrot out of thin strips of paper, shaped to form intricate shapes. It all got glued together to birth a beaked profile that invites close examination and touch.

She loves it, she conceded, "but I bit off a little more than I could chew on that one."

Other birds are simpler and very last minute, the artist said. Day No. 87 was a collage put together just to get the daily avian done before going to bed.

Froom already has some favorites among the growing collection. "Library Bird," made on the 43rd day, is feathered with old "Date Due" cards that used to slip into paper pockets on library books. The little birdy feet are made from paper clips and it's weighted with recycled Post-It Notes - all staples used in her job, she said. "I made him during a two-hour lunch period at work."

While the bird population grows at Froom's house, she's felt her own wings grow stronger, the artist noted. "I've learned perseverance. Just to keep going, don't listen to other people," she said. "I was told I'd give up after a month."

Far from it. Froom has found an audience for the project, both from posting pictures on her Facebook page and from putting them online at deviantART.com, an online gallery where artists of many mediums post their work.

The validation Froom has received from those venues has been encouraging, she said. "I know some people are waiting to see my bird each day. If I don't always post, they get worried."

Seeing strangers comment positively on her art also inspires her, she said.

She, in turn, uses her art to inspire others. Froom's "Pink Awareness Birds" - day No. 82, which came in October - is a depiction of the rosy-breasted Pink Robin found in Southeast Australia. She's drawn the tubby little songsters perched on a branch in the shape of the infamous pink ribbon of breast cancer campaigns.

Then there are the just plain fun days, such as making Jelly Bird out of - yes - jelly beans. And "The Elvis Imbirdinator," a colored pencil rendition of a quail with his natural pompadour and decked in a white, studded jacket, has become a fan favorite, Froom said. "I've made prints and given some away."

Nearly each day is a spontaneous contribution. At about 2:30 p.m. on day No. 108, also known as Monday, the artist was seeing a blank canvas where the Bird of the Day would be by evening's end, she conceded with a chuckle. "I have no idea."

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

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