Modica uses scraps for brilliant Americana replicas

MADISON – Pat Modica, an artisan in Crafter’s Cove at Madison Street Festival, will sell his custom-made birdhouses, each with a different theme and no two exactly alike.

About eight years ago, Modica started building birdhouses as simple structures of scrap wood and deadfall he salvaged from his backyard and neighborhood. For example, he used paper-bark birch trimmings for an eye-catching, rugged veneer to a birdhouse.

“I gradually added ‘creature comforts” features like lawn chairs, barbecue grills, flowerpots and what-nots and developed themes, such as flower shops, mountain cabins or general stores, Modica said. His love for old barns and rustic scenes influenced design decisions.

He even built a boathouse/birdhouse at a friend’s request. “That bird can go for a cruise without getting his feet wet,” Modica said.

For a farmer’s cooperative store, he built a box for a storefront facade with oak veneer and cornice. “The faux metal roof is made from cardboard core saturated in polyurethane and painted in acrylics to show rust and aging,” Modica said.

“The ice cooler and RC Cola machine are shaped out of scrap wood, painted with acrylics with labels from the Internet and glued in place. Everything ith polyurethane for protection. A Birdie can pick up a bag of bird seed, a barrel of worms or even a Moon Pie,” he said.

He ‘plants’ flowers in pots with hot glue. He makes pots from Sculpey (a brand of polymer clay) and planters from hollowed-out logs. “Occasionally, l’ll hand paint the details always has been something  I’ve done, dating back to my architectural design days in college,” Modica said.

He recommends placing his birdhouses on a covered patio or fireplace mantle, although the design can handle the elements in a backyard. Each birdhouse requires one week to build. MSF is the only festival that he attends because of time constraints in building an inventory.

“I enjoy my birdhouse hobby because I can be creative in woodworking without worry of close dimensions — a sort of a freedom. It gets me out of my recliner,” Modica said. Money is not his object. “I’ll just do it for enjoyment,” Modica said. “The best part of the street festival is talking about the details — what wood I used, how I constructed the roof or any other details.

His wife Jade is his best critic and an essential sounding board for every birdhouse. “We came to Huntsville from California 26 years ago and started a new life.  retired and enjoy traveling occasionally,” Modica said.

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