James Janda stands behind five of his birdhouse creations, on display this month at the Warsaw Community Public Library. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
James Janda stands behind five of his birdhouse creations, on display this month at the Warsaw Community Public Library. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Growing up, James Janda used to check out books about castles at the Warsaw Community Public Library.

Now, the fortysomething artist has been building birdhouses for about the last six years that look like castles for finches, sparrows and other birds. Five examples of his craft are on display at WCPL through the month of September in the children’s section on the second floor.

“I got my start with it when my folks had actually bought a birdhouse book with these whimsical type of birdhouses in it, and I started flipping through it and the next day I decided to build a birdhouse,” he recalled during an interview Monday at the library.

He started by incorporating some ideas out of the book like sticks and things, but continously added ideas and incorporated more and more art supplies.

“A lot of the stuff I pull out of the woods,” he said, or he might find items to use while he’s kayaking. “All the wood I use is basically just salvaged scrap wood I find all over the place, and people have wood piles around or whatever. So it’s all pretty much scavenged things.”

He doesn’t have a building plan when he starts, he just comes up with an idea in his head and he starts making it. “I continue that process until the project says it’s done,” Janda said.

He will let the project “talk” to him and let the project take on a life of its own. “Once the project takes over what I’m doing, then the whole process gets so much simpler because then I’m just experiencing the construction of it rather than thinking about the construction of it,” Janda explained.

One of the birdhouses on display at the library is a castle with towers and a drawbridge. He’s been working on that for about three years, on and off. It was his go-to project when he wasn’t working on a commissioned birdhouse for someone.

“It was such a great idea in my head, but then when I started getting into it, it was beyond a monster of a project because it’s all stucco,” Janda said. Because of the massive size of it, he had to work to keep the weight down on it.

Most of his projects take one to 1-1/2 months, depending on the scope of the birdhouse, but the castle was his longest, which he finally finished about two months ago.

He works on the birdhouses every day, trying to raise the bar on himself and seeing how much more creative he can get. He will work his regular job from 3 to 11 p.m., and then work on the birdhouses from about 11:20 p.m. to when the birds start singing in the morning before the sun comes up.

“I really try to push the limits of my creative brain, it never shuts off. I really enjoy doing art, but it’s not that I want to go do art, it’s that I have to. It’s not a choice really. It’s a necessity,” he said.

He’d do his art regardless, but the fact that people really seem to enjoy his work, Janda says it’s nice to have it out on display at the library to share it with the community.

“If I can be an inspiration to other people because I have people that inspire me, and if I can pass that along to the younger generation or even adults,” than that’s great, he said.

Through his art, and putting his birdhouses up on Instagram and Facebook, he’s met other artists from around the world and made some great friends.

“It’s awesome selling something for a decent amount of money. I get a decent amount of money for these, but, for me, the biggest reward out of all this, this birdhouse path I’ve been on, is just all the amazing people that I’ve met along the way. I met so many talented individuals,” he said.

An artist he met from Britain has supplied him with fairies he’s incorporated into some of his birdhouses, like the castle. Her work can be found on Instagram at @dollydotsdream.

Janda estimates he’s made 25 to 30 birdhouses over the last six years, many of which he doesn’t have anymore as he’s sold them.

“A birdhouse is a birdhouse, but what I really wanted to start creating was something that transformed somebody’s landscape or garden into some kind of fairy land ... that can trigger somebody’s brain to maybe help get them off on the right foot in the morning. It’s art, but it’s functional art, and it enchants somebody’s yard or landscape or whatever. To be able to have the skills to be able to give that to somebody that might not necessarily be able to do that themselves, I think that’s really an awesome thing to be able to do for other people. Even if they buy it off of me, it’s more than that,” he said.

His art attracts everyone from children to grandparents, people who are interested in miniatures, dollhouses or fantasy and woodworkers. Janda said his work strikes a chord with so many people, it’s been really rewarding.

To find him on Instagram, look for The Birdhouse Magician; his Facebook page is under Jim Janda.