Making a cut paper skirt:
This is what I did:
1) Find a shape of a cage that you like. Children's books are chock full of these.
2) Photocopy the image to the finished size you want. I resized mine to 3" wide without the turret sides by 4" long excluding the ball feet which I added later. Use the 'sized' photocopy as a model to draw from. The measurements are even as I drew directly onto a piece of graph paper at 4 squares to the inch.
3) You do not have to be a slave to the shape. There is something visually that drew you to the shape in the first place certainly, but you don't have to include every little nook and cranny if the original shape is quite detailed. Simplify the lines in other words. Pick a shape that is even on both sides (symetrical) to start. That way you only have to draw half of the shape. Start drawing using graph paper to draw on and follow the lines. I started with the bars of the cage. Linear. Then I started adding curves. The top is a very round dome shape. If you have a circle template (architectural drafting tool), this comes in very handy. The bottom of a juice glass or such works just as well. Just draw and draw until you have something you like. Don't be discouraged. Throw out what you don't like. Feel free to alter/design the shape as you go along. Mine took on a whole new shape of its' own when I was first drawing it.
Once you have the 'half' shape drawn you are ready to make your own template from plastic packaging material. You will need the other half of the image drawn in as well--so fold your drawn image (graph paper) along the vertical center of the cage. Hold it up to a window during daylight hours if you don't have a light box. Trace the missing half of the image. Or, use a carbon pencil to do an image transfer. Regardless, you now have a complete drawn image to work with and you are ready to make a template.
4) Tape the drawn shape to the plastic and cut carefully and slowly (being in control of the knife blade at all times) along the drawn lines to make a negative template for yourself. Review the positive and negative template information located in previous posts about making 'Audrey.' See the FIG at the top of this post and notice the cut out bits completely surrounding the cage. Bridges are left to hold the cage image in place on the plastic and to allow you to trace the cage outline when you use the template.
When you are slicing through plastic, go for a repeat cutting over the same area (line) to slowly separate the plastic as it cuts through, rather than a slice with ONE cutting stroke. Sometimes you might want to flip the plastic over and cut along the same cutting line from the underside.
Your cut template is not going to resemble a piece of art, or anything even vaguely resembling a clean 'lazer-cut' commercial template. Yours will be ragged and jagged and chipped and really home made looking. That is fine. You just want to get a rough outline of the bird cage shape in the end.
5) Trace the outline of the cage using the template onto a nice firm piece of paper. I use watercolor paper or thickish drawing paper. If the paper is too too thick it is a b---- to cut out so test the paper you plan to use with your cutting tool to see how that works for you. If that works then go ahead and trace. This tracing is not your final shape. Once traced, you want to go in to get some nice detail that will be lost during the process so far. I re-draw a round ball shape foot and go in to make the circular lines more circular and the straight edges more uniform paying attention to corners (where a horizontal line meets a vertical line in the cage bars for example).
Now you can cut, following the lines you've just drawn onto the paper using your template. You are making a positive shape cutting. It's time to decide what color you want your cage to be.
6) I have used only two methods for coloring the cage. There are many choices however. If ink is used it must be waterproof. Otherwise...well just imagine the mess! I work on a piece of glass. Lay the paper cut out onto the glass and dip a paint brush directly into the ink bottle and just paint the paper as you will. There's lots of ink colors out there in the art store world! I have also used acrylic paint to paint directly onto the paper shape. I dilute as little as possible the paint with water. As acrylic dries just like plastic this gives the paper a bit more support in the end.
7) Use the bird cage skirt in any way your heart desires. Imagination is the key. Have fun and I hope you enjoyed this journey with me. Hugs, Norma.