How to make a brass bird cage dress in twenty-five easy steps

Picture of How to make a brass bird cage dress in twenty-five easy steps
This instructable will teach you how to wrangle brass sufficiently enough to create a flattering and practical dress that doubles as a functional bird cage.

It's perfect for casual Fridays at the office. Steer clear of cats, coal mines, ferrets and weasels.

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Step 1: Beginnings...

Picture of Beginnings...
Creating a functional birdcage dress was something I had wanted to do for quite a while. Most illustrations of the concept that I had seen lacked legs, which made the idea of creating the real thing quite appealing. It seemed like a fun challenge.

I began by scouring the mighty internet for birdcage and crinoline photos in order to consider potential shapes and see what might actually be feasible. I also started thinking about materials and researching how actual bird cages are built. Sketching helped to conceptualize the ideas that were running around in my head.

Step 2: Brass is a worthy opponent (ie: picking a material)

Picture of Brass is a worthy opponent (ie: picking a material)
I highly recommend picking a material that is near impossible to work with :)

I decided to go with brass because I loved how the antique brass cages had a bit of a sheen. I did not, however, realize that this decision would make the project a thousand times more difficult than working with steel.

After a bit of searching online, I was able to order a small quantity of different sized brass and copper rod and strap samples to see what options might work. Some of the online metal shops don't charge a cutting fee for small pieces, so it's worth tracking down one of those.

I opted to go with 1/16" brass round rod for the cage mesh and 1/8" x 1/2" brass strap for the majority of the dress. I also picked up some 1" strap for the belt so there would be a little more substance there. Industrial Metal Supply in LA was kind enough to order a bunch of 1/16" round rod for me, as it wasn't something they generally carry.

At this point, I went back to sketching. Once the materials are settled, it's generally easier to figure out what can and can't happen with the originally conceived idea.
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PietraHarpist4 months ago

Wow, this is incredible! My only issue is with the fluffy chicken idea - I've had quite a few fluffy chickens, and they all have notoriously bad balance, so I can't help but imagine them falling over constantly, even at the movement of the cage from one of their peers falling over. Sure, it would be hillarious, but perhaps not as classy as the dress deserves.

Also, does the bird poo damage the cage???

Dave555551 year ago
WOW! Your fine craftsmanship has inspired this 60 yr old grandpa. THANK YOU!!!
As I admired your bird cage dress, I peeked in the corners and was also impressed with: 1) the orangish "flame dress," 2) the height of your ceilings, 3) the spaciousness of your warehouse. VERY INSPIRING. would you answer three questions: 1) do you live in this warehouse?, 2) would an electric spot welder have helped? and 3) could the entire dress be done in copper to make the soldering easier? Thank you again! ... Appreciatively, from dave in Austin, Texas
Kasey (author)  Dave555551 year ago
Hi and thank you kindly Dave.
To answer your questions, (1) yes, I lived in that warehouse for a few years. It was a great space - 'twas the refrigeration room of a former brewery in Los Angeles.
(2) A spot welder may have helped, I can't remember why I didn't try it - it may have been cost prohibitive? Or it may have left a mark on the external side of the brass, I honestly can't remember. But definitely worth testing.
(3) Copper could be an easier possibility. I wanted to use brass because of the color and sheen and because it has a different overall aesthetic. As hard as it is to work with, brass is definitely my favorite metal. Also, copper is significantly more malleably/bendy, which seems like it might provide some extra challenge when you're trying to maintain shapes.
Take care and if you end up making something, please let me know!
Would seriously love to collaborate on a photoshoot with this! amazing.
sunshiine3 years ago
Wow! This is amazing! Thanks for sharing all the very hard work and fun ible!
Kasey (author)  sunshiine3 years ago
Thank you very much!
sunshiine Kasey3 years ago
Your are welcome! I love this!
noahh3 years ago
This is astounding. Well done.
Kasey (author)  noahh3 years ago
Thank you!
That's incredible. Great idea and execution. :)
kooyma4 years ago
just saw this for the first time- soooooo painfully awe-inspiringly artistic neato-keen!
Have to admit I immediately thought finches (they can be a bit noisy too) or hummingbirds -but the fluffy chicken thing would be a treat!
Great to see this level of artistry here- have you sold it to a museum yet? What a fantastic WORK of art!
And kudos on the welding bit- I'll be taking a class this spring time permitting.
big happy appreciation for this i'ble!!
Boden4 years ago
 hey, my roommates and i love this thing!
i was just browsing instructables at work, and happened to find this one. ironic, because we live in building 620 :)

see you at artwalk!
Kryptonite5 years ago
The ribbons express the curvaceousness of the weather rather well by pulling taught in certain areas. That's quite clever.
Kryptonite5 years ago
Wow, this is the most amazing thing I have seen in a long, long time. The amount of time you must have spent on this is amazing! The intricate work, the wonderful out come, the oxy-acetylene torch, the coal mines!

I am lost for words, you really know your stuff and are evidently truly devoted, well done! 5 stars! Favorited!
if you made it from aluminum, thinned the metal strips and brought up the bottom, could you actually wear it? the possibilities *sigh*
canida5 years ago
Wow, this is incredibly awesome! You really don't do anything half-way. I like the chickens better, too. They're larger and have more character than doves. Maybe some really fluffy silkie chickens?
Kasey (author)  canida5 years ago
Agreed... a gaggle of chickens in there would be such fun. The dress is huge - it could feasibly fit ten or so large chickens in it comfortably... Glad you like it :)
I had a peacock but he died :( I'm going to buy a peacock and peahen, so I could walk around in my skirt and they would just sit there... they don't do much :). Awesome awesome instructable
Maybe you could have little peachicks running around! lol
OH COOL! I wish I had a peacock.. that would be cool..
miseleigh Kasey5 years ago
How about wood ducks? The ones with the shiny fancy coloring. Although I don't know how they'd do in a cage rather than water, and I don't know where you'd get them. Pheasants or cockatiels? A large bird with a lot of color would look awesome, but chickens just seem... tame, I guess. This dress is amazing, by the way.
To me, the attraction of chickens is that they are big and loud. Maybe roosters, or very grouchy geese?
Guineas! If loud is what you want, that's what you'd put in there. They are about the loudest fowl known to creation. They never stop yammering!
ibayibay15 years ago
has no purpose and hats y its awesom
cutekitten5 years ago
its pretty
Tamsinhull5 years ago
Beautiful! x
whiteoakart5 years ago
This is truly amazing. I can not think of any reason to ever make this myself, but, really, I am stunned.
jet_9665 years ago
gmjhowe5 years ago
Boing Boing just featured this!

Great work, i love how unique it is.
jaysbob5 years ago
whats the final weight of this? Considering its all brass I'm guessing pretty flippen heavy lol. amazing visionary work though. looks like it really took some serious sweat and dedication to have it realized the way you wanted it. Also great work on the instructable itself, very well put together and photographed, made for an interesting read. I also can't help but think how amazing this would look with a nice heavy patina. Although I also can't reconcile that with what a crime it would be to leave this outside for the length of time it would take to develop it.
Kasey (author)  jaysbob5 years ago
Thank you :) I need to do some receipt tallying to get an exact weight. I'll get back to you on that. I can absolutely say that it is quite heavy. It sits on fourteen small brass casters and they move decently, but it's still a lot of weight to push. If I had to guess I'd say maybe 50 lbs??... I agree, a patina could look amazing. The cleaning process is arduous, though, so I may hold off for a bit. I can, however, guarantee that it will see patina at some point...
unjust5 years ago
wow. beautiful.
Kasey (author)  unjust5 years ago
Thanks so much.
bigmark5 years ago
great job!! i love a woman who can weld.
uguy bigmark5 years ago
Yeah nothing quite as sexy as a woman with a torch. Great job, very well done. Thanks for sharing.
canida uguy5 years ago
Thankfully, Instructables is full of hot welders of all genders. I think welders are by definition hot? ;)
Some of the women on the site build their own welders too.
Kasey (author)  canida5 years ago
Ayup, welding is pretty hot by nature. Thanks guys :)
This is absolutely stunning! I've been wanting to make a chastity belt of sorts and your project is helping me with inspiration. :D
Kasey (author)  jessyratfink5 years ago
Thanks so much. Best of luck with your project!
Just one word...a-m-a-z-i-n-g!!! thank you for sharing...
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