How to make a tyre swan

... or what I have learnt talking to tyre shop men and alot of kicking of tyres

Sabrina the tyre swan

Type of tyre
The kind of tyre you use is important. An ordinary car tyre has steel belting so is near impossible to cut and will have sharp edges. I made Ron from old Vespa motor scooter tyres as they are easier to cut. If you could source some very old car tyres which are textile belted, they would be suitable, but still very hard to cut by hand.

Cutting the tyre
If the tyre allows, cut very carefully with repetative careful stanley knife/box cutter strokes. (did I mention the word careful?). I am sure there are other less safe/ more safe ways of doing this.

Wrestling the Tyre
The tyre needs to be turned inside out. This involves much wrestling and probably frustration. I apologise for the lack of images of this step.

The neck
Once inside out, the neck will flop and so you'll need to devise a strong wire tied to the underside of the neck to keep upright.I cut slits into the tyre and used cable ties.

The garden feature
If it's going to be permanently placed in the garden, cut a piece out of the bottom for roots and water. You'll need to peg it to the gound with tent pegs. I grew some flowers for a while, they went quite well.

Decorating the tyre (sorry, swan)
if you want to paint it, you'll need a flexible paint. I used an acrylic gloss that worked fairly well. Many household paints will flake off quickly. It is very difficult to remove them completely to start again

flakey paint on an old swan

Pictures to help along the way
Here are some pictures of Ron's long lost forgotten cousin Buck to show you some of the steps. Our relationship didn't last long enough to get to the wrestling stage:
Cut the 'neck edge' at least 2/3rds - 3/4 of the ways around the tyre, the more you cut, the easier it is to turn inside out

Cutting pattern for tail/neck is basically a V with little cut down each side for the tail
Neck detail. I used bent mild steel tied to the neck with cable ties. Heavy wire would be easier to use but use a length each side of neck.

A hoary old swan I picked up in Bendigo, this one with a wire supported neck. Also, detail of wings. Ron is a simple swan, but you could make any number of changes to the neck and wings.
I hope this helps. I will upload any links and pictures as I come across them. But as you may have discovered, there is not much out here on the net at this stage. Please send me pictures once you have made and installed your own!

Cathy Parry:


Anonymous said...

Great for any up market gardener/ I'm going to make one tomorrow. It will put it next to my Neville.

Unknown said...

Hi Ron, thanks for the blog, I'm keen to have a crack at one of these Australian icons. Would you like some photos for your site? best regards Glenn

Cathy said...

Oh please send them when you're done! Don't hurt yourself.

Cathy said...

Harry, did you make one? Please send a pic!