Cardinal Bird Fancy Dress

I went to a burlesque/cabaret show the other night and the dress code was along the lines of ‘the birds and the bees’; a theme representative of the imminent arrival of Valentine’s Day.  Having already once dressed as this American garden bird I thought it may be useful to reuse some of the things I had for that.  For those of you not familiar with Cardinals, they look like this:

cardinal bird a garden bird in america

It turned out that the only item I reused was the mask – shown here:

face mask of a cardinal bird


I cut out a mask shape from thin stiff card (whilst also cutting out the eye-holes), papier mache’d a beak and painted it red.  I bought some red and black feathers from a local craft store, cut them to size and glued them on.  The stick, randomly enough, came from a firework.

I had red trousers and a red top that I planned to wear but if I wasn’t holding the mask I thought ‘the look’ wouldn’t be complete.  So I set about making some wings, the finished product you can see below…

red wings for fancy dress costume caardinal bird

I cut out a large cardboard shape and spray painted the whole thing red.  I cut out a stencil to indicate feathers and spray painted those bits black.  Some of the writing on the cardboard still showed through the spray paint so I made some feathers out of paper.  A close up can be seen here…

paper feathers on red bird wings

I stuck on the feathers with a small piece of double sided tape at the tip so that the feather would be free to lift a little from the cardboard.  I then pierced holes in the central back piece to thread through some red shoelaces.  I got a friend to tie them round each arm so they would be the right length for slipping on and off.  When the wings are folded over, you can see how the laces are tied.

red wings for fancy dress costume cardinal bird


Thus, with the wings finished,  I added a black feather boa around my neck, gave myself the biggest quiff imaginable to match that of a cardinal’s crest and my cardinal look was complete!

photo of me in cardinal bird fancy dress costume

One thought on “Cardinal Bird Fancy Dress

  1. Laura
    I love your cardinal. I am a very small designer of notecards in Louisville, ky. I sell to the local market, a few gift shops, and at craft fairs in the area. I would love to use the cardinal on some of my note cards. Please contact me if there is any possibility of that.


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