An Ornithological Review

Two Birds, 1938 drawing by M.C. Escher

Birds play a prominent role in our folklore and culture, symbolizing ideas as diverse as peace, love, wisdom, longevity, courage, and hope. But they are also sweet and whimsical, adding a charming touch to any design. And in the world of all things handmade and vintage, as Portlandia wisely noted, “Put A Bird On It!” and it sells!

It is no surprise then that birds are often a recurring, universal theme for weddings and invitation design. So we’ve compiled some ornithological inspirations to get those creative juices flowing!

First…the dress.

Inspired by fashion and advertising prints from the 1920s, we love the image below for it’s sophisticated, yet simplified,

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style. The birds are stylized and become a decorative element meant to enhance the overall effect. The dress is typical of the early 1920s when designers began looking to the classical Greek and medieval periods to release women from the corset.

Mille Petals gown from BHLDN

Although the above dress, an original design from BHLDN, does put you back in the corset, the sleek silhouette combined with the texture of the cascading ruffles is stunning. The effect is both organic and architectural.

This 1909 Japanese print uses blocked color instead of graphic lines to delineate space. We love the color palette of sea green, moss green, eggshell, and graphite.

Contrail Ring from Yayoi Forest
Inspired by a contrail in the sky in Kyoto, this gorgeous wedding band from Brooklyn jewelry designer, Yayoi Forest also suggests natural forms of wood and bamboo and would be a timeless piece for anyone, bride or groom.
In terms of decor, event planners can go a little wild with all things bird-related, especially vintage birdcages, which seem to be everywhere! We like the idea of using the birdcages outdoors to create dramatic height and space. Similarly, suspending flowers in old bottles from old twine gives a burst of riotous color and a sense of weightlessness. A great idea for the cocktail hour.

Artful dinner plates, Perched Birds from Anthropologie
Of course, we’d be remiss not to mention Anthropologie when discussing bird decor. These dinner plates, by ceramicist Lisa Neimeth, showcase hand-etched images inspired by nature and would look lovely as decorative pieces. The blind impression of the childlike birds could work well as a letterpress print, too.
The current trend in invitation design is using a variety of vintage postage to add a touch of graphic charm to the mailing. If you are as obsessed with this concept as we are, 100 Layer Cake has a wonderful blog post about how and where to secure them. This collection of vintage international bird stamps, available on Etsy, while they couldn’t be mailed, might add character and color to the dinner menus or seating cards.
Which brings us to our printed matter! Here is a sampling of work we love, finally featuring one of our own design. Enjoy!
Letterpress invitation designed by Artcadia in England, the playful use of text and color make this otherwise simple design interesting and fun.
This invitation suite, from Allie Ruth Design, uses chipboard instead of paper, giving an earthiness to the overall collection.


Letterpress folded Thank You card by Hartford Prints!. The words “thank you” are printed in overlapping shades of green to make the grass. The sweeping movement of the bird in flight works against the vertical and static text, creating an interesting tension.