Every winter when everything is covered in snow I catch red flashes in the trees surrounding our house. It’s always fleeting but red cardinal feathers are so bright they’re hard to miss. I’ve read stories about cardinals being messengers from loved ones who have passed, and I just love this belief. They’re like guardian angels, protecting the people they’ve left behind.
So here is my version of the cardinal, perpetually in flight, hovering and watching over us. Hang it in front of a window so the sunlight can catch that brilliant red. Or make smaller versions of it so you can use it as a Christmas tree ornament.
Click here to purchase the cardinal design and scroll down for the tutorial.
If you missed it above, here is a link to purchase the Cardinal design files. Follow along with the tutorial below when you’re ready to make your Cardinal. If you’ve already made my Hanging Dove you’ll be familiar with some of the steps in this tutorial.
Here’s what you’ll need for this project:
Cardinal Design Files
Cardstock Paper – Red, Black and Orange
Double Sided Tape with Lining
X-acto knife or any sharp point
Here are the instructions on how to create your cardinal…
Step 1: Cut two cardinals and two of each head part
With your cutting machine, cut out two cardinals and two of each part of the cardinal’s head. In your design folder you should have two SVGs, one with the cardinal pieces doubled and one with just the pieces for a single cardinal. Regardless of which file you use, just make sure you have 8 pieces cut in total like in the image below.
Step 2: Glue Cardinal’s beak onto head
You’ll be doing the next few steps two times, but mirror images of each other, because we want to end up with two cardinals that we attach together to create our final cardinal.
To start, put some glue on the beak area of the cardinal’s head. You should see a slight divot on the top of the beak area—use this divot and the point where the beak area meets the cardinal’s neck to determine your glue area (see arrows on left side of image below). Then take your beak and line up the top corner of the beak with the divot and the bottom corner of the beak with the edge of the cardinal’s neck. Take notice of the way the beak is positioned: the slight bump is near the bottom and the beak is curving downwards.
This is how your beak should look once you’ve glued it onto the head.
Step 3: Glue grey circle to black piece
For this step you can do two pieces at once. Take both your black pieces, which is the black feather on the cardinal’s neck, and place them side by side making sure they are mirror images of each other. Then put some glue around the hole.
Now take a grey circle and place it over the hole, making sure to cover the hole completely since this will be your cardinal’s eye.
You should end up with two pieces like this:
When you flip them over they should look like this:
Step 4: Glue black piece onto head
For this step take the same black piece as the one in the image below, and flip it over to the same side on which you glued on the grey circle. Apply glue to the top half. You can cover the whole piece with glue but this way you have a clean, glue-free part to handle.
Turn the piece over and place it onto the cardinal’s head, next to the beak. It should nestle nicely around the beak.
Here is the finished head:
Now repeat step 2 and step 4 with your other cardinal cutout, so you should end up with two cardinals that are mirror images of each other.
Step 5: Tape two cardinals together
Take one of your cardinals and flip it over to the back side. Cut two pieces of double sided tape and place one along the wing fold line and the other along the tail fold line. Don’t worry about cutting the tape pieces to the exact length as the fold lines, just a general match will do.
Then add more tape to the rest of the cardinal’s body. Make sure you cover the narrow areas of the beak and the feathers at the top of the head. I did this with triangular tape pieces.
Now align your second cardinal on top of the one with the tape. Try to match all corners and edges.
Once you have the two cardinals aligned, hold them down while opening up the top cardinal’s tail to reveal the tape underneath. Using an x-acto knife or any sharp object, reach in to remove the tape liner. Then release the top tail and press down to secure the two cardinals together.
Now that the two cardinals are attached, open the rest of the cardinal to remove the liners on all the tape pieces. Then press the two cardinals together.
Step 6: Tie string
Thread your hanging string through the cardinal’s hanging loop.
If you’re using monofilament like in my images, I recommend tying three knots. Monofilament will sometimes unravel so the three knots are extra security. Also make sure to pull your knots nice and tight, but be careful not to pull too tightly that you rip through the paper.
If you want a bit of curl in your cardinal’s tail you can run your fingers along the tail feathers, gently pulling outwards as you get to the ends.
That was the last step, your cardinal is done!
Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you enjoy this one!