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How to Make a Head for a Bird Costume

Updated April 17, 2017

Balloons make excellent forms for shaping heads. Construct heads of birds or other creatures out of papier-mâché made from household materials. The papier-mâché is lightweight and easy to cut when it's dry and can be painted and embellished with features and feathers for a realistic look. Cleanup is easy, too. When you no longer need the head for a costume, display it on a stand as a work of art.

Make the paste. Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Add 2 cups of cold water to a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of flour. Add the mixture to the boiling water and return it to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 3 tbsp of sugar. Allow the mixture to cool. Pour it into a mixing bowl.

Blow up the balloon until it is slightly bigger than the head of the person wearing the costume. Tie a knot. Set the balloon on a 10-inch bowl for a steady work base with the knot at the bottom.

Tear the newspaper into strips about 1 to 2 inches wide. Pull a paper strip through the paste to moisten it on both sides and lay it on the balloon. Smooth out any wrinkles. Continue layering the paper in an overlapping pattern, smoothing out any wrinkles, until the entire balloon is covered except for the knot end. Apply four or more layers of newspaper so it will hold its shape when it dries.

Allow the papier-mâché to dry completely over several days.

Pop the balloon carefully with a pin. Cut a hole in the bottom for the head. Put the head on the person who will be wearing it and use a black marker to indicate where the holes should go for the eyes, mouth and nose. Remove the head and cut out the holes.

Paint the head with yellow acrylic paint. When the paint is dry, glue feathers all over the head in the same direction. Allow to dry.

Cut a 10-inch by 4-inch rectangle out of cardboard to make a beak. Cut each corner to round them off. Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise to make a crease and open it again. Fold in half crosswise so the points meet. Make a second fold one-inch deep on the creased side to create a flat surface for gluing the beak to the head. Bend the top beak down slightly and the bottom beak up to create a more realistic shape.

Paint the beak bright orange. Allow the paint to dry.

Glue the beak to the head.

Draw eyelids and lashes with a magic marker. Draw two circles an inch above the beak to represent nose holes.

Tip

If you can't find real feathers, make them out of construction paper.

Warning

Avoid getting the head too wet when painting. Make sure the wearer can see and breathe easily when wearing the head.

Things You'll Need

  • Saucepan
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • Mixing bowl
  • Balloon, 12" to 14"
  • Bowl, 10"
  • Newspaper
  • Pin
  • Scissors
  • Black magic marker
  • Yellow acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Glue
  • Feathers
  • Cardboard
  • Orange acrylic paint
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About the Author

Donna Eigen has written, produced and managed communication programs for global, government, university and nonprofit organizations since 1980. Eigen has taught graduate business communication and is a certified facilitator in work force diversity, leadership, team building and effective presentations. She has a Master of Arts in communication and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.