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What you’ll need...

  • Aluminium foil

  • Scissors

  • Sellotape

  • Glue

  • 1 medium-sized elastic band or hair elastic (one that you don’t mind cutting)

  • Some cardboard (from a cereal packet or other packaging)

  • Tissue paper or thin paper (newspaper would be fine)

  • Paints or pens to colour the paper

  • Any other decorations you may have at home

Suitable for ages 5–11 (you may need adult supervision for any cutting)

Time guideline: 45 minutes

Swan Lake is one of the world’s most famous ballets, and is often performed by The Royal Ballet here at the Royal Opera House.

The story is about Prince Siegfried, who chances upon a flock of swans while out hunting. When one of the swans turns into a beautiful woman, Odette, he falls in love. But Odette is under a spell that holds her captive, allowing her to regain her human form only at night.

One of the ways we tell a story on stage is through the costumes. A key part of Odette’s costume is her beautiful headdress, which tells the audience watching the performance that she is part swan, part human.


Take a piece of aluminium foil, roughly 50cm in length. Fold it in half lengthways and then fold it again so you have a long band of foil – don't fold it flat as you do the second fold, just leave the piece loosely folded.

Take this foil band and hold the centre against the top of your forehead. Take the sides, pull them back and scrunch the foil so it moulds around the shape of your head from the front to just behind your ears.

You should end up with a sort of head band moulded to your head. It will look a bit rough right now, but we’ll tidy that later.


Next, take your cardboard and cut out two teardrop/feather shapes as indicated in the picture. We’ve used the inside ring of our roll of sellotape to draw a circle, and then drawn on the rest of the shape by hand. Cut the first feather out and then draw around it to make the second one match perfectly.

The size of these feathers will depend on the size of your head, but this one is 17cm long by 7cm wide at the widest point. Your feathers need to be long enough to go from the side of your head just in front of your ears to just behind your ears at the back of your neck.

Once you have cut these out, reposition your tinfoil head band and work out where you will need to stick your feathers. Now, stick them in place on the tin foil with sellotape to sit on the outside of the head band with the thick part at the front, going to the point at the back.


At this stage, you may need to trim off or scrunch up any foil that is left over at the back, and you may want to scrunch around the front to look smarter, but you can add to this later.

Once you are happy that your cardboard sides are in place, make a small hole near the pointed end of each piece. Cut your elastic band so that it is now just one elastic string, and thread this through one hole. Secure this by tying a knot in one end and hold in place with sellotape, then thread through the next piece and do the same.

Your headdress should now securely sit around your head like an Alice band.


We’ve made our headdress look like a swan from Swan Lake, but you can adapt this model to look like any kind of bird of fabulous creature you like. You may want to do some sketches to work out what you want your head dress to look like.

Once you have decided what you want your headdress to look like, colour your tissue paper or thin paper with paint.

Once it is dry you can cut out feathers as the picture shows. The quickest way to do this is to fold the paper lots of times and cut out one shape to get lots of feathers in one go. You can decorate your individual feathers however you like with glitter or ribbon.

Once you have lots of feathers, stick them onto the cardboard sides of your headdress with glue, following the shape of the side pieces with the points of the feathers pointing towards the back. You can layer on as many as you like, overlapping them to look like birds’ feathers.


Now, think about how you would like to decorate the middle of your headdress.

If you are making a headdress for Odette in Swan Lake you could add more foil scrunched into thin wire to suggest a beak or a crown on top. If you are making another creature, you may like to add some more long feathers sticking up.

You could find some decoration such as sequins or beads and make a central decoration on the headband by gluing these in place.

What I have learned...

  • How to identify and solve design problems DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY

  • How to use different processes and materials to create an effective model DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY

Wear your headdress with pride, and try and embody the character of your swan or fabulous creature. We would love to see your creations, so please ask a parent or guardian to take a picture and share with us on social media! #kuuoliving

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