Phyllis Front
Phyllis, checking you out as you look at her - another fiber art sculpture from Michele Tway.
Phyllis From Left
Phyllis, facing left; a mixed media sculpture by Michele Tway.
Phyllis Facing Right
Ready for her close up. Meet Phyllis, a mixed media bird sculpture by Michele Tway
Phyllis – Base Form
A behind the scenes look at the base form of Michele Tway's bird sculpture Phyllis.
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Quite a few years ago, I found a feathered hair clip at a fundraiser yard sale for a fire department in South Carolina. We were on the way to somewhere else, traveling on a back country road. It was one of those itty bitty towns that might not have even had a stop light. We drove past, intent on getting where we had planned to go. We actually turned around, something we often don’t do, and went back to see what they had. We love supporting those small fire departments; even if it’s with just a few dollars at a yard sale. The clip was buried in a box and just seemed like something I could use one day. It was so cool. With a little movement, the feathers bounced and just had so much life in them.

At that time, I had made a few small birds but it would be years before I began making birds in a serious way. I don’t generally work with real feathers and it kinda moved from place to place without a true place in my workroom. A tumble to the floor led me to plopping it on Phyllis’s head – the only available ‘flat’ space on my worktable at the time. It was if the feathers knew exactly where they needed to be.

In a bit of added irony, a lot of my birds had the overall silhouette of a kiwi bird. It wasn’t an intentional decision just a result of my technique at the time. The long tendril-like feathers on Phyllis can only be found on the kiwi bird. Makes it an even more perfect addition to a piece that heralds in some changed techniques and an intentional decision to ensure the shapes of each sculpture vary more.

Phyllis remained without a name for a long time. Her identity became obvious once those feathers landed on her head. With the addition of her brown booties, she truly embraced the personality of her namesake – Phyllis Diller.