Likewise, when you wear,—and especially if you create your own-- fairy wings, they are a true expression of your inner self and your creativity (and besides, they are so much fun! :)
I thought it would be a great idea, then, to do a How-To blog on making your *own* wings!
I have been designing and making fairy wings, for myself and for others, since 2005. The fun part for me is all the different mediums available—they can be made of almost anything you can think of. I've done mine from nylon and then glittered and painted them, or from beautiful fabrics, or gorgeous japanese papers, papier mache and flower petals. I've added natural elements like acorns and branches and moss, or fancy ones such as silk ribbon, antique lace, and sparkly bits of broken vintage jewelry. Faux bugs and birds and butterflies also add charm! :)
For example, firstly here are some of my own designs, you can find more in my Faeryspell Creations store at: http://www.faeryspellcreations.etsy.com :
These are made from papier mache, which I completely covered in several different colors of dried rose petals, and then sealed them against the elements. I added peacock feather accents and covered the wings in sheer black lace.
These wings are made in a similar method to the ones above. Papier mache, wired and covered in dried flowers. I used small branches for the 'veins' in the wings, and sealed completely. I then glittered and painted the backside of the wings, and covered all in sheer white lace.
These are my fabric angel wings and are completely poseable (all of my wings are wired, even the paper ones, put the fabric wings always have a bit more flexibility.) I used designer home decor fabric for these, because the embroidered design reminded me so much of feathers! These wings have both elastic and ribbon ties.
Another pair of fabric wings, embellished with bridal-quality silk flowers and leaves.
These are one of my favorites....I love roses and I love pink, and the brocade fabric I found for these is just gorgeous. Again I used silk flowers and leaves, as well as ribbon and little faux birds :)
Another set of paper wings (yes believe it or not!) These were painted silver and glittered, and then I handpainted the veining and covered all over with sheer silver grey chiffon, leaving the edges a bit tattery. All these needed then were some silk irises and pretty blue and purple ribbons.
These pretty pink wings are created from wonderfully textured (and sealed) japanese paper. I used peacock feather 'stems' for the veins and silk flowers and faux butterflies for the detailing.
I love using little birds on my wings! This set is also special because of the antique fabric—I just fell in love with the colors and the pattern. silk flowers and gold and silver ribbon accents.
Following is a sampling of some delightful fairy wings made by other artists—I delight in the variety of styles, fabrics and trim—they are all so uniquely beautiful! (please click the link above each photo to go to the artist's website or store :)
Essence of Tranquility
Jewelry and Baby Bling By Dara
The Groovy Mermaid
Tricia Fountaine Design
(One of the most unique—and one of my most favorite—fairy wing artists. She made my gorgeous wings that I wear each year for Faerieworlds:
So, what do you need to make your own fairy wings?
1. Wire (wire coat hangers are excellent, if you can find them, if not, medium gauge wire can be purchased at most craft or hardware stores :)
You will also need wire cutters (do not use your good sewing scissors!) and a small pair of pliers to help you bend the wire. You might also want to wear gloves as the wire can be pokey and this protects your hands.
2. Hot glue ( I often sew my wings around the wire, but if you are not the sewing type, hot glueing the fabric in place will work just as well.) You can also use it for applying the trims, flowers and other decorations to your wings.
3. Fabric you find beautiful. You can use anything—vintage silk scarves, sheer fabric, silks, brocades, velvets (burnout velvet makes gorgeous fairy wings!) Anything that you think is lovely and inspiring will work. I create many of my fairy wings from beautiful chiogami washi (japanese paper) that has been sealed. I've made wings from papier mache and handpainted them, or applied hundreds of dried rose petals, sealed them and covered the wings in transarent lace....the only limit is your own imagination, and there are no rules!
4. Good fabric scissors for cutting your fabric
5. A fabric marker for tracing the shape of your wings onto the fabric (my own method is to shape the wire first, then lay the shape down on the fabric and trace around it, leaving a 1/2 inch allowance for folding over the wire) If you prefer, you can also design the wing shape on paper first, bending your wire to that shape and then using your paper pattern to trace your wing design on the chosen fabric.
6. Silk flowers. Using high quality silk flowers is best—they are more realistic and last longer. They also need not be expensive—(keep your eye out at thrift stores, estate sales and the like. You will be surprised at the selection you can find. ) Major craft stores such as Michael's and JoAnne's also have wonderful selections of flowers and often put off-season florals on sale. The internet is a great source—and be sure to look on etsy for incredible handmade fabric and paper flowers!
7. Other Trims. Feathers are wonderful. laces, ribbons, rhinestones, fringed and/or beaded trim. Florist's moss and faux birds and bugs make your wings enchantingly detailed. Glitter is always good. You can even use antique buttons or pieces from broken jewelry. Anything that is pretty or that sparkles is a wonderful additon!
8. Don't forget that you will want to wear your wings, so make sure to add elastic or ribbon ties. (I often use both—clear lingerie elastic is durable and comfortable (and invisible!) I like to add ribbon ties as well, for prettiness. And, when your wings are not being worn they make for a beautiful display hung on your wall or from your ceiling :)
Once you've assembled all of the above, it's time to begin!
MAKING YOUR FAIRY WINGS
Using your chosen method, bend the wire into your fairy wing shape, leaving extra wire at the end of each wing shape (2"-3") so that you can twist them all together in the center to connect.
Transfer your wing shape to your fabric, leaving an extra 1/2 inch allowance for folding over and gluing (or sewing).
Cut out the fabric wing shape, and attach to the wire shape. (don't worry so much about any rough edges right now—they can be artfully hidden later with moss or silk flowers or leaves :)
Using the extra wire at the end of each shape, twist all together to connect in the center. At this point I wrap this in fabric about 100 times (well maybe not literally 100, but a lot) to cover the wire securely and make it soft and comfy against your back. Use hot glue to secure this in place. (again, don't worry so much at this point how it looks, because you will be covering this part with silk flowers, etc.) Another method I have tried is to use a styrofoam (florist's foam) block and stick the ends of the wires into this (I always pull them back out, and hot glue them back into the holes I've created in the foam, so they are secure and don't fall out.) If you do this, you will not have to wrap the fabric around the center, but can glue your flowers, leaves, feathers and whatnot directly onto the foam to hide it. It's main advantage is that makes your wings very light :)
Now you have your basic fairy wings!
This is the point, before decorating, where I also attach my elastic and/or ribbon ties. These can be sewn or securely glued in place, the ends hidden with more fabric or silk leaves.
NOW THE FUN PART—DECORATING!!
For me, this is the best part—it's where you just let your imagination run wild :) Paint them, glitter them, add feathers, ribbons, and any other fairy finery you can think of. Remember the beauty is in the details so don't be afraid to go overboard. Remember, there are no rules!
I would love to post photos of anyone who decides to make their own wings and send me a picture (bonus points if you are actually wearing your wings in the photo :) You can email your photos to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Just for fun, and for another fairy wing method (using nylons or tights stretched over your wire frame) here's a very entertaining and informative how-to video from Threadbangers: