Rainbow Soundsuit Headpiece

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To complete our Pride Month Rainbow Arts series, we’ve adapted artist Nick Cave’s colorful and textured Soundsuits for this week’s activity. With simple materials and tools, you and your child can put together one part of a DIY “soundsuit” – a concealing and colorful headpiece that makes a gentle sound while wearing it. 

What We’re Learning & Skills We’re Building

  • Fine motor skills – using the small muscles in the hands to crumple and tear paper 
  • Sensory exploration – using one’s sense of hearing to listen to the sound of the materials rustling
  • Abstract thinking – using an object (a paper bowl) to represent something else (a hat)
  • Creativity – making something new and unique from various materials

Materials & Tools

  • Sturdy paper cereal bowl (that can fit on a child’s head)
  • Hole punch
  • Two 9” pieces of string or yarn
  • (Adult use only) Small kitchen knife, Exacto knife, or sharp scissors
  • Diluted liquid school glue in a bowl/cup (1 tbsp glue mixed w/ ½ cup water)
  • Paintbrush
  • Different colors of tissue paper (1 cup torn-up and 2-5 sheets untorn) 
  • Crepe paper or ribbon (about twelve to sixteen 12” strips)
  • Undiluted liquid school glue 
  • Pipe cleaners 
  • Duct tape
  • Child-safe scissors
  • (Optional & adult/older child use only) Cool glue gun 
  • (Optional) Strip of thick fabric (fur, felt, etc.) about 10” long x 3” wide

Making the Headpiece 

  1. Place the paper bowl on your child’s head (like a hat) and punch two holes on opposite sides of the rim next to each of their ears. 
  2. Create a chinstrap by tying the ends of the strings/yarn through the holes on the rim. Or, use duct tape to attach the strings.
  3. (Adults only) With the paper bowl facedown on a table, use a knife, Exacto knife, or sharp scissors to poke a few holes on the top of it at random points, at least 1.5” apart. (Pipe cleaners will go through the holes in Step 5 below.)

Decorating the Headpiece

  1. Use a paintbrush to cover the outside of the bowl with a thin layer of the diluted glue. Press a layer of torn-up tissue paper over the glue, smoothing the tissue as you go. Let it dry. 
  2. Once dry, place the bowl facedown on a table. Paint the outer rim with diluted glue, then stick on the ends of the crepe paper or ribbon strips so they dangle down. (Note: Leave about ⅓ of the rim uncovered – once the headpiece is complete, your child can choose to have their face covered or uncovered by the dangling strips.)  
  3. Create small, loosely rolled balls from the un-torn tissue paper (about 1” in circumference). Make as many as it takes to cover the outer rim, or just a few. 
  4. Spread the undiluted glue around the outer rim, over the strips of crepe paper/ribbon. Stick the tissue balls around the rim. Let dry thoroughly.
  5. Poke the ends of the pipe cleaners through the holes on the top of the bowl made in Step 3 of Making the Headpiece. Fold small pieces of duct tape around the pipe cleaners to secure them at the holes. Flip the bowl over, then bend the ends of the pipe cleaners so they’re flat against the inside of the bowl. Use duct tape to secure them down and to cushion your child’s head from the pointy ends. 
  6. Cut some of the un-torn tissue paper into smaller squares. Roll these squares into small balls (about ¼” in circumference). Stick them to the pipe cleaners using undiluted glue.
  7. (Optional & adult/older child use only) Use a cool glue gun to squirt a ring of glue around the pipe cleaners. Attach a strip of thick fabric around the pipe cleaners to hold them upright.

Wearing & Exploring With the Headpiece

  1. Place the decorated headpiece on your child’s head and tie the chin straps to secure it. 
  2. As your child walks around, encourage them to gently move their head from side-to-side and listen to the movement of the materials. Ask, “What do you hear? What’s making that noise? Is it quiet or loud?” 
  3. Have your child rotate the headpiece so their face is concealed by the dangling strips of crepe paper/ribbon. Ask, “How does it feel to look ahead when there are strips in front of your eyes? Does not being able to see make you move more quickly or more slowly? Do you imagine that you’re hidden from others seeing you?” 
  4. Encourage your child to imagine a place where they might wear their headpiece. Ask, “What does this place look like? What are some of the things you see around you in this place? What are you doing in this place?” 
  5. Brainstorm together about what you can add to the headpiece such as bells, leaves, and other safe objects. Talk about other parts of a “soundsuit” you might create – gloves, shoes, necklaces, and more!

More About Nick Cave and Soundsuits

Nick Cave is a sculptor, a performance artist, and a dancer. His original inspiration for the Soundsuits occurred after the Rodney King beating at the hands of police in 1991. Watch the artist discuss Soundsuits and see his Soundsuits in action. According to the Denver Post, artist Cave, who is Black, “came out as a gay man just as the AIDS epidemic hit its stride. His early creative expression took form in the drag outfits he concocted for jaunts to nightclubs where he danced, he says, mostly alone late into the night.”


A Note About “Rainbow” Art Activities

Every June in Habitot’s Art Studio, we created rainbow-themed art as part of our week-long “Rainbow Arts” Pride celebration. This year, we want to acknowledge that the traditional rainbow Pride flag, from which we’ve drawn inspiration for our art activities, doesn’t fully reflect the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. There are many flags used by groups in the LGBTQ+ community that we’d like to highlight and include in our 2023 celebration! Check out this list of Pride flags and what the different flags mean for specific communities. Happy Pride!