Around Easter time, our youngest son was home from London for a couple of days and it so happened that it was warm and sunny weather. He was lying on the grass in the middle of the garden while the rest of us were sitting on the terrace with our mid morning tea. All of a sudden he jumped up and declared ‘we should have a pond!’ and within 5 mins, he, along with my husband, had got the spades out of the garage and started digging. I was quite taken aback…… a pond…..oh…well…..er maybe. They dug for a couple of days interspersed with looking on the internet at what sort of pond it might be….. ‘Taj Mahal’ was mentioned in passing…I was concerned. We do have a lovely big garden situated high on a hill and the lawn area lends itself rather well to the idea of a reflecting pool and so the whole project became a rather epic project and a couple of days later a lorry arrived with sand and hardcore and paving slabs. As it started to take shape, I loved the idea of it and it seemed so did all the birds in our neighbourhood. Almost as soon it was filled with water and before even the paving was down, little birds and big birds would pop down for a drink or a bath and I was charmed by it. I began thinking about what might go around the pond and reached straight away for one of my Tilda books - it was time to make the ducks! I had been wanting to do this forever…. and now it seemed like the time had come.
For sure, the pond was way more work than either of them bargained for… but if you are going to do something like this…. you might as well do it ‘right proper’ as they say in Yorkshire. Planning is the key, of course, and my boys somewhat haphazard approach was not without issues. Our house was an old Sunday school and the garden was at one point a tarmac playground and because of this, it wasn’t possible to make the pond very deep. I thought this was probably not a bad thing -my logic being that it couldn’t fill up with dirt etc and we are not planning to have any fish. Even so, everyone looked a bit concerned when it came to putting the lining in.
It was about at this stage that it seemed like an awful long way to go with the project and it seemed hard to imagine how it would be. In between making tea and cakes, the first duck was taking shape. The only really tricky bit is getting the placement for the beak right - I decided to pin the paper template on and keep it there to sew around, making sure the seam for the beak was lined up correctly.
It seemed to work well. It was easy to sew around the template. I didn’t realise at the time but I had lined my floral fabric up with the wrong line so my first duck has a rather longer white neck. It actually doesn’t matter a jot, but it was an easy mistake to make.
also…. I forgot the tail and had to go back and add this on - you can see it lurking on the template but is easy to miss on the larger duck. In fact I added a white bottom on my duck and it looked rather cute.
The webbed feet were fun to make. I used up loads of left over webbing strips for the stuffing….you know… the bits you trim off a quilt. I cut these up into bitesized chunks and used one of my grandmother’s old bakelite knitting needles to stuff the feet. They need to be quite ‘plump’ because the ducks tummy rests on them and they help to keep him balanced. After that it was simply a matter of stuffing and stitching the duck up.
Cementing all those slabs in place was no easy job. William had long since gone back to London by this time so my husband was left to finish it off himself. He did a superb job and is actually pretty good at this sort of stuff, but in fact it is hard manual labour.
We had to leave the paving to set for a couple of weeks and luckily the weather was dry. I was really amazed at how lovely it looks and with the local and patchwork birds stopping by… it became the bird pond in more ways than one.
When the duck was finished I was absolutely amazed at how cool it was. I don’t often make this kind of thing so am always surprised when they work out. The little scarf really adds a touch and I used black glass headed pins for the beady eyes and added a couple of extra buttons on his back.
Basil was totally unimpressed!
I made more. So what do you think? I think it is perfectly wonderful and those ducks…. well they are just right at home.
I even added my little ‘Heather Bailey’ patchwork owls too…..