Ancient Bird Skeleton EL Wire Headdress




Introduction: Ancient Bird Skeleton EL Wire Headdress

My second foray into the world of foam and EL wire headdresses. This time it's a giant ancient bird skull with an attached spine; EL wire outlines and accents the features of the headdress. I got a sound sensitive EL wire driver so it can go with the music :-).

Materials (+ estimated prices):

2-3 pieces gray sparkly sheet foam (depending how long you make the spine and how closely you place the templates) (€1.50/piece)

3-4 pieces gray plain sheet foam (€1/piece)

1 piece blue sparkly foam (€1.50/piece)

41 loose binder clips (~€5 total)

1 3M piece of blue EL wire (or color of choice) - I live in Spain and it's hard to find good quality EL wire, so I get mine from and have been really happy with them so far. I used 3mm wire, but I would recommend trying angel hair for the skull portion as it has fine details and the 3mm did not shape to these details as well as I hoped. (€12)

1 3M piece of red EL wire for spinal cord (or color of choice) (€12)

1 EL wire 1->2 splitter (€2)

1 EL wire driver, preferably music-activated (€12)

Hot glue gun + hot glue

Fishing wire

Needle and thimble


Approximate total cost: €53

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Step 1: Print Pattern; Assemble and Test for Fit

The JPG files and Photoshop file are attached. If you have an extremely large or small head, you should measure the width of your head and scale the design to fit. Note that the top view of the beak has both a top piece (with a pointed right end) and a bottom piece (with a rounded right end that is shaped to the head).

Step 2: Cut Out Foam Pieces; Glue Corresponding Pieces Together

From the patterns, trace and cut out pieces of foam. I hot glued together multiple layers of foam to give the headdress greater stiffness. I also shaped the skull pieces as I hot glued them; I rounded the sides of the skull and shaped a crease into the top of the beak. The number of layers needed for each section are as follows:


2x layer plain gray foam

1x layer sparkly gray foam


1x layer plain gray foam

1x layer sparkly gray foam

Eye ring:

1x layer blue sparkly foam

Head insert:

2x plain black foam

The number of each type of vertebrae is as follows:

Vertebrae 1 (labelled in pattern): 1x

Vertebrae 2 : 1x

Vertebrae 3: 8x

Vertebrae 4: 7x

Vertebrae 5: 1x

For the sides of each vertebrae, cut out 2x the side pattern, reversed in a mirror image.

Step 3: Tape Foam Pieces Together

Use masking tape to attach all pieces together.

Step 4: Complete Assembly and Try on Headpiece for Fit

Make sure the headdress generally fits your head. I made an insert (discussed in later steps) to help the headdress fit more closely.

Step 5: Stitch Together Headdress

Using the needle and fishing wire (and a thimble!), whip stitch together the headdress. Do not stitch the plates of the sides of the skull together too tightly as the EL wire is threaded between these pieces.

Step 6: Mock Up EL Wire Placement Using Safety Pins

The EL wire driver will sit inside the beak. Place it here (you may want to tape it in place) and begin outlining the skull with EL wire. Thread the EL wire between the plates of the skull that you have stitched together. For the outer portions, pin the EL wire as tightly as possible to the outline of the skull. This may take some readjustments. I attached the EL wire prior to attaching the bottom of the beak, so I could more easily access and adjust the design.

Step 7: Stitch EL Wire Onto Headdress Using Fishing Wire

Using needle and fishing wire, whip stitch the EL wire onto the outline of the skull.

Step 8: Stitch on Bottom of Beak

Whip stitch the bottom of the beak onto the rest of the skull using fishing wire.

Step 9: Create Vertebrae

Whip stitch together pieces of vertebrae. To get the stitching tight, it's easiest to hold the two pieces flat together and stitch them firmly but not too tightly together. Then when you pull them perpendicular, the curves in the design maintain their shapes.

Step 10: Create Spinal Cord Out of EL Wire

Fold the other 3M piece of EL wire into 4 even sections. Wrap it with wire so it maintains its shape.

Step 11: Attach Vertebrae to Spinal Column

Vertebrae are attached together with 1 binder clip piercing the inner sections, and 1 binder clip piercing the outer sections. Pierce the foam with the binder clip about 1 cm from the edge. I used 4 binder clips (2 inner, 2 outer) to attach the top vertebrae to the skull; I attached these to 1 binder clip which was in turn attached to 2 binder clips on the skull (see third image for demonstration). This game the spine more stability as it is quite heavy. Hook the wire wrapping the EL wire together onto the top binder clips to hold the EL wire up.

The pattern of vertebrae is as follows:

1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4, 3, 5

Step 12: Create Head Insert

Whip stitch together pieces of head insert. Cut an additional strip of foam, about 3 cm x 10 cm (I made mine with 2 layers of foam for sturdiness). Put the head insert on your head and pull the back flaps firmly together to fit. Tap and then sew the foam strip on at this size.

Put the EL wire driver inside the beak and put the foam insert inside the headdress. It's ready!

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    4 Discussions


    4 years ago

    This is awesome! Haha. What made you pick that particular bird?


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thank you! I based the skull on a stock photo I downloaded of a sandhill crane skull because I liked the shape of the skull and the definition of the "cut-out" portions (here's the link if you're curious: However, I sized the design up to make it as large as some of the prehistoric flightless bird skulls, so it would fit on a person's head and fit with the "ancient" theme I was going for.

    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    Wow! That was be great to see walking around in the dark.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thank you for the nice comment! :-)