Cellophane Fairy Wing Tutorial
Phoenix got a pair of fairy wings from the dollar store last year. The elastic was never any good, so I cut that off and replaced it with a safety pin, which was a little bit of a pain because she couldn’t get them on or off by herself. The center was ugly, that was easily fixed with dollar store flowers and hot glue. To end it all, the wings themselves fell apart and wouldn’t stay in the back piece. So I’m attempting to make a new pair. I’ve seen tutorials all over for cellophane fairy wings, I love the way they look and though I’d try to make a pair. Here goes!
Here’s a few tutorials I read through before I began and during the procedure.
Materials I started with were:
Pliers- Linesmans, Dikes (sidecuts), and Needlenose. (I am an Electrician, these come standard for me
16 gauge Utility Wire from the hardware stores cement department, by the rebar and forms. It comes in 340′ lengths
Floral Tape from the dollar store
Marker the same color as the floral tape
Cellophane( for me, 3 colors) from the dollar store
Tissue paper from the dollar store
Spray Glue and brush on glue
Clothes Iron (or heat gun if you’ve got one lying around)
Hot glue gun
1. I went online and looked up pictures of butterflies, since I want that nice shape. I traced the crappy dollar store wings onto a piece of paper to get the dimension. I then drew in some basic veins and the structure of the wings. I drew a solid piece of wire all the way around the wings because I never want them to sag.
2. I measured out what I’d need for the outside of the wings and added about 1 1/2′, which was to much, but live and learn. I bent about 3″ in toward the center, then began following the form I had drawn on the paper. When I got to the center back again I wrapped the 3″ piece around the extra so it wouldn’t move. I did the same thing for the other wing. There was quite a bit left in the middle, so I made a big loop which can slide down a corset or be decorated when I finish.
3. Same for the lower wings surrounding wire.
4. Next I did the “eye” circle of the wings. I measured out how much wire I’d need plus about a foot extra for the center winding. Again, both eyes are one piece of wire joined in the middle. This time I started with the middle, made a little loop and wound the wire around the center gap back support piece, formed the eye as I had drawn on the paper and wrapped what remained around the back support. I trimmed them up with sidecuts where they were to long. Again, same thing on the bottom wings.
5. The long veins are next. I again placed the wings on the paper draft.The upper wings are doubled over, so the vein reaches from the eye, to the outside edge, and back to the eye. I added about a foot of extra wire to these veins. I started by wrapping the eye, coming off where my drawing showed me, let it flow (or gently forced it into position) wrapped twice around the outside edge, that’s about all I could wrap before my drawing said they needed to head back to the eye. Again let it flow toward the eye, and swap around the eye wire again.
6. I didn’t think about taking pictures until this step, but form here on out its a bit more visual. The long veins on the bottom wings. Each vein is separate, I added 3-6″ of wire to each vein line. I wrapped the eye side first, then the outside with what remained.
7. I took my electrical tape and wrapped around any ends and where I had wrapped the wires together. It will bulk up those parts a little bit, but I’m hoping it’ll smooth them out a little too.
8. Next I took the floral wire. I tried to wrap with the tape still on the roll, that was a horrible joke and didn’t last very long, but it seemed comfortable in one foot pieces. So I took my pieces and wrapped every bit of the wings except the back piece with floral wire. That took some time.
9. COLORS! Once that was done I decided I wanted rainbow wings. (I hadn’t decided what I wanted until this point, there’s just so much possibility!) I had picked up cellophane in red, blue, and clear at the dollar store. I had tissue paper downstairs in yellow, but couldn’t find orange, green, or purple. Well, red and blue make purple, so I tried layering it. I got out my paints and figured I could paint the yellow tissue paper.
10. Before I painted I laid the colors out to see where I wanted things to go. I put a piece of cellophane behind and the tissue paper overlapping it. I drew on the tissue paper where I wanted the curves to be, and where the veins crossed the paper. I cut little U shapes, so the points, where they came together, should meet at the veins.
11. I laid the tissue paper behind the frame where it would end up and pulled out some brush on glue. I glued where the tissue paper was behind the frame, on the top side, and pulled the tissue paper out and pressed it down into the glue. Repeat on all four wings.
12. I carefully (after being a bit too aggressive and ripping the tissue paper) painted the lower wings tissue paper green and about half of the upper wings tissue paper orange. Wait for that to dry. Paint the other side, they’ll both be seen. Wait for that to dry too.
13. Paint the vein lines in with a marker or paint of a color to match your floral tape.
15. Iron. Set your iron to the lowest setting. Put a towel or uncared for piece of cloth under the wings, and use another for over the wings. You want to protect your iron and the cellophane from each other. Make sure you get into all the nooks and crannies.
16. I wanted the upper wing reds bold, so I added another piece of red to the opposite side, same as step 14. On the lower wings I wanted a purple section, so I put a piece of red toward the outside of the wings, and layered blue over it on the unfinished side. So the lower wings have Blue on the outsides and a thin slip of red on the edges to look purple. And Iron.
17. When I was happy with where all the color was, I trimmed back the edges and added the clear. I used a spray glue for this step, which added a little dimension in that the clear parts aren’t exactly clear. That’s kinda what I wanted, I can still see through it, but it’s not “is there anything there” clear. You only get one shot at spray glue, it’ll grab your other cellophane and pull it off the frame if you make a mistake and try to pull it back off. I did one side of clear, ironed the hell out of it, then added the other side. and ironed that too.
18. Finally to finishing the edges right? I tried the candle/lighter/hot flame method, with questionable results. It doesn’t help that it’s constantly breezy to windy in Utah in May so the candle kept going out. I ended up sitting in the garage where I still get plenty of ventilation, but its not quite so windy.
At this point I pulled out the computer and saw that I’m not the only one having trouble with this step, thank goodness. So…
19. Get out the old trusty hot glue gun to fix all that crap. I glued up against the edge of the wing, rolled the 1/4″-1/2″ over onto that side, and used a spoon to hold it in place until the glue set. Just a few seconds. This made for an unattractive rough edge on one side of the wing. Also, I had burn marks on some of the plastic from the candle, so decided to dress it up. I got out the glitter. I’m surprised I even own any glitter. It gets everywhere, in the cracks -Lara Croft Tomb Raider. I hot glued over the edges, put down glitter, and embellished the eye and edge points with little rhinestones. By the way, the glue peels right off of the wooden spoon. I expected to have to use a knife to get it off, but it pulled right away.
20. I folded over the super long back support piece, its still there, only shorter. Then I took a 16″ wire and wrapped a piece around the back support pieces of both the upper and lower wings, to keep them together.
21. I then wrapped that in electrical tape, then floral wire.
22. Hot glue some flowers onto the back support frame to hide all that mess. Add some ribbons for a pretty flowy look.
23. I’m using ribbon to slip the wings on like a backpack. I’ve tied them to the frame loops so they can be taken off, traded out, or hung up.
Sadly these are very heavy and too big for my two year old. I may use them June 7 at a fairy festival being held by one of the local Pagan shops, however, butterfly wings really aren’t my thing. I do love the rainbow though.
I think I’ll try to make another pair, smaller and lighter without all the veining in wire. We’ll see if they work better. I wish I had a heat gun! Ha, but I’d probably get impatient with it and burn right though the plastics.