Most steps of preparation I could do while all the pieces were still flat. The tails got an extra layer of fabric that serves two purposes: inside the back it creates a pocket to hold the ends of the tail wire; outside it reinforces the underside of the temporary tail form. On the underside of the breast piece I sewed a patch and cut a slit which will be the pocket for the leg wires. I attached the second side of the head for the cardinal and wagtail and the temporary wing forms for the robin.
Next I cut the holes for the eyes and sewed eyelets of the right size and colour. The method is adapted from the shisha embroidery technique used to apply tiny mirrors to fabric.
I added three rows of holding stitches. The row in wool on the head and down the back in the colours of the weaving will remain in place. The temporary row down each side will be taken out once I have woven down that far. By then the woven fabric itself will hold the warp threads in position on the rounded form.
Next came the fun of attaching the beak and eye beads and assembling the head. The robin and wagtail went smoothly. I suddenly realized I needed a new method for the cardinal's head because of his crest. I need smooth weaving that ends at the back of the head in fluffy tufted/fringed wool. From the pattern I made a form of just the top of the head, warped it and experimented with how the weaving will work (using a plentiful colour, not my newly purchased cardinal red). The first one failed and I threw it away. The next one I wove and unpicked twice before getting the technique right. There will be further experiments to figure out how to brush and trim the crest to shape (and maybe it will need some pva "hair gel"?), but I learned enough to determine that the shape of the head is correct and to develop a method that works to join the pieces and add the holding stitches.
I love this stage. With their eyes inserted and the 3D heads they have begun to look more like birds. They sit there on the table watching me with their bright eyes. My anticipation of the fun of weaving the colours of their feathers spurs me on to finish assembling and warping the forms.