I made this bird or 'birdman' costume out of steel wire and soda cans for Halloween a couple years ago. It has been used for other costume parties since then and has always been a big hit.
I had just come back from South Africa and I was inspired by the frequent reuse of Coke cans, bottles, bottle caps and the like that I saw.
Step 1: Step 1: Procure Materials (and Safety Tips)
Procure materials and tools.
-steel wire of various gauges: I used 14 gauge for the framing, 16 or 18 gauge for the ribs and smaller details and 28 gauge for attaching various larger gauges together
-coke cans: I used, I think 60-80 Coke cans. I'd advise looking in recycling bins and whatnot. My office at work goes through a lot of Coke cans. Mixing in some Diet Coke or other cans might also work well, to give it a more varied look like some birds have.
-duct tape: of course
-needle-nose pliers: the kind that have the wire cutting part work well for double duty
-scissors: use cheap ones that you don't care about being destroyed because they will be dull when you're done.
-copious amounts of free time: I spent a lot of time making this and expect that you might as well.
Safety note cutting soda cans will create sharp edges. Additionally small gauge wire is sharp. Take proper precautions while working on this costume and while wearing it around.
Step 2: Make the Wing Frame
Make one wing frame.
First I made the outer frame out of the thickest gauge wire. I then added a second frame on 2 of the three sides in sort of a wedge (see second photo) for some strength and then connected the two.
Then I added the center rib running down the length of wing and the ribs running up and down the wing. These will be useful to attach the "feathers".
Lastly I added the handle to the end.
I did this sort of by eye and then matched the second one to the first.
Step 3: Make Feathers
Alright, now it's time to make some feathers to put on that lovely frame you made.
Wash out the cans and then dry them or let them dry as best you can. Cut the top and bottom off of the can. I used either scissors or a blade (utility knife or the like) for this. Careful!
Then cut the the can top to bottom to get what I call the 'can blank.' Make sure it's dry and flatten it out a bit. Cut the can blank in half in the long direction and you'll get two 'feather blanks'.
The length of the feather depends on how far down the wing you are. The ones near the tip are pretty short, while the ones near the base are basically the full length of the feather blank. The sides of the feather are just straight and you cut a curve into the tip. Then cut two tabs on the 'inside' (the left for the right wing and the right for the left wing) and one tab at the top. These will be used for attaching the feathers to the ribs on the wings.
Step 4: Put the Feathers on the Wings
Start at the wing tip. Add the first feather and wrap the side tab around the rib and top tab around the top.
The second feather will go to the left and below. Again, wrap the side tab around the rib and the top tab around the horizontal (length-wise) rib. The third feather goes above the second feather. The fourth goes
Feathers will always overlap the the one to the right. The feathers above the lengthwise rib will overlap the feathers below that rib.
You just continue toward the center until you have covered all the ribs.
Step 5: Finish Up the Wing
Originally I meant the feathers to help hold each other on with the overlapping that I mentioned in the previous step, but it didn't work as well as I had planned so I put strips of duct tape on the inside of the wings (where no one looks) to help hold the feathers on the wing.
Step 6: Connect the Wings to Each Other
So now you have these two wings. (You have two wings, right? If not, repeat steps 2-5 for the other wing, making it a mirror image of the one that you'd made.)
I connected the two wings with a simple loop of wire (actually with a couple mini loops in it to keep the wings from sliding around the loop.). I put this over my head when I was wearing the wings and then put my hands through the handles. When I wanted to eat food or something I could let go of the handles and the wings would hang off of my shoulders.
Step 7: Make the Frame for the Mast
Make the frame for the mask out of wire. I make the beak first (top and bottom separately, then connecting them) and the the eyes and then the part that sits on the head of the wearer.
I made it to sit on a baseball cap that I was wearing backwards. This made sure that the small gauge wire wouldn't stick into my head and also allowed me to make the part that went on my head pretty simple.
Step 8: Finish Up the Mask
Make up some more feather blanks and just fold them over the top and the bottom of the beak. That's all for this step.
Step 9: Wear It!
You're done! Wear it!
I wore it with a jumpsuit because I wanted to wear it with a long sleeve shirt (to protect my arms from any pricking from the wings) but didn't have any of them. That and I wanted an excuse to wear my jumpsuit.