The pyramidal display borrows from detailed 19th-century engravings of nests and eggs, such as those by Reverend F.O. Morris. Like Morris's illustrations, these crafts projects adopt a naturalistic style. Some of the materials can be found at crafts stores and florist shops; others might come from your yard.
Coconut-Fiber or Grapevine Nest How-To
This nest is a cluster of grapevines, shaped by hand and then set onto a quince branch. The eggs are naturally speckled but have been dyed shades of green and blue.
1. Gather coconut fibers or grapevines to form a ponytail; secure 1 end with 24-gauge brown wire.
2. Curl secured end to form a coiled base; continue to curl, adding new bundles and wiring every few inches until nest is formed. (Ours are 2 to 4 inches across.) Secure end with more wire. Adjust by hand to create a cup for eggs.
Loose grapevine, from B&J Florist Supply, 212-564-6086.
Birch Nest How-To
This oversize nest (a birch-wrapped basket) cradles an exuberant mix of blooms from spring-flowering bulbs -- the botanical counterpart to newly hatched birds. Pliable birch branches circle an ordinary wooden basket, giving the nest its ethereal, light-as-a-cloud appearance. The flower stems are supported by floral foam set in a plastic liner.
1. Start with a wooden basket that is 8 or 12 inches in diameter. Gather a bundle of birch branches. Cut off the fine tips, then cut the branches into varying lengths (6 to 12 inches).
2. Using 24-gauge brown wire, secure the end of a branch to the base of the basket. Bend the branch along the basket's curve, wiring every 4 or 5 inches so that loose ends stick out. Repeat with remaining branches, overlapping them to conceal the basket.
12-inch vine basket and birch branches, both from B&J Florist Supply, 212-564-6086.
Pussy Willow Nest How-To
This time of year, birds instinctively put the materials at hand to good use. Here, the downy gray catkins of pussy willow branches soften a densely woven nest, while dried grasses inside cushion fragile decorated eggs.
Choose fresh pussy willow branches, which will bend more easily than dried ones. You can find them, as well as the dried grasses you'll need, at garden centers or florist shops.
1. Create a base for the nest: Crisscross lengths of 24-gauge brown wire onto a 10-inch wire wreath form. (This doesn't need to be neat because it will be covered later.)
2. Cut branches into varying lengths (8 to 15 inches). Wire the end of 1 branch to the base of the wreath form. Bend it around the form's curve, wiring it in place 5 or 6 inches from the tip. (For a natural look, the loose end should stick out.) Repeat with the remaining branches, overlapping as you go.
3. Once the wreath form is covered, tuck dried grass into branches; wire shouldn't be necessary. (If the grasses are stiff, soak them in water until pliable, about 1 hour; pat dry.) Insert feathers among the grasses. Line the interior of the nest with additional grasses, and fill with decorated eggs.