ok, after a bit of delay, or actually pushing to get this done on time, here are finally some photos!
We ended up shifting to a simpler design. The upper body is covered by a cape, and the lower chaps. Yes, think of the cowboy chaps. The actor must do a quick on stage change of costume, with an assistance lifting off the chicken layer as he slowly turns. So all is attached with the minimal number of ties and two snaps. Velcro was not an option due to the sound. In the end, this design was much easier to construct. Also, the role is that of a hen, so the tail was kept low, rather than high showy feathers as in my sketches.
This is using cotton/wool batting/felt. I have done a base layer of brown with Shiva paint sticks.
I did a quick dye of some roving, using Rit and the microwave. As this is not something which will be washed or needing deep color, this route was perfect.
The roving is then machine felted over the brown base layer. I used three colors, from a dark brown, then the chocolate brown and then a light tan.
The fabric is then cut in "u" shapes aka feathers. The point is not to create "real" feathers but to suggest the essence of "feather." Oops, I thought this photo showed the little tuck to give the feathers dimension as well...
Once cut, then I machine felted the whole to a loose gauze material, to give an underlayer of white as well as strength.
And here is Nick, the actor, in the final fitting yesterday!
He has only one of the gloves on, with polymer clay claws attached, as we were testing out the idea. The decision was that it worked, so I then sewed the last ones on after this photo.
The comb etc is a combination of commercial felt and machine felted roving. I figured the commercial felt was cheaper, rather than using all the good wool! It works well to put a thin layer on the commercial felt, to give the texture of all hand felted.
I should have more professional photos to share at a later time.
The director is VERY happy with the chicken suit! And I had a great time figuring out how to approach it. I appreciate the trust of the director and my costuming colleague, Martha, very very much.