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Picture of Cellophane Fairy Wings in under 2 hrs!
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This instructable will show you how to make some very easy cellophane fairy / dragonfly / insect wings in less than two hours, on average.  If you have a lot of crafty stuff, you might not need to make any purchases.  If you need to buy supplies, I expect it will run between $10-$20. 

For this Instructable, you will need:
 

  • cellophane (I used a clear irridescent, which is why it changes colors in the photos)
  • scissors
  • wire cutters
  • plyers (preferably some with a tapered edge for shaping wire)
  • floral wire (I prefer the straight stems, but you could uncoil a spool, too)
  • wire hangers (one per wing segment, so a minimum of 2)
  • floral tape or complementary electrical tape (I got a multi-pack from the dollar store years ago
  • Iron & ironing board
  • old towel
  • spray adhesive
  • craft knife & self-healing mat (optional, but helpful)
  • cigarette lighter
  • wood skewer (or incense stick)

Have you supplies ready?  Great!  Let's begin.

Step 1: Make your frame

This Halloween, I want to be a steampunk dragonfly. This actually plays into a larger idea that involves kinetic sculpture, but one which I don't have the time to create just yet. My kind of lame compromise was to make some quick cellophane wings to get the idea across. I indended to make dragonfly wings, but ended up copping out and making just two fairy-like wings with long enough prongs that I can shove them into the back lacing of my corset. For this reason, I haven't made a strap aparatus yet. If I do, I will post it. Regardless, I'll offer some suggestions for wearing that don't involve shoving into corset lacing.


Straighten your coat hanger.  If you have the patience, you can straighten the hook end.  I do not, so I cut it off with my wire cutters.  Once you have it straight, shape the top of the wing however you like.

Add veins.  Using your floral wire, add some interior veining.  Use electrical tape to join edges or overlaps.  I wanted a steampunk-ish feel, so I tried to make my veins emulate whimsical circuitry.  For non-steampunk ventures, try printing an image of insect wings for reference when building the veins. 

Wrap with tape.  This can be floral tape, or it can be the electrical tape.  Because I was using floral wire which was already green, my impetus for wrapping  the coat hanger portion was merely to match.  It turned out to be a good idea, though, as it kept the sharp edges from tearing the cellophane. 

Repeat for wing two.

 
firevixen5 days ago
My wings have been coming out foggy too. I read below someone that has had that problem and the suggestion was to try it without the glue. I tried it without glue and the cellophane wasn't sticking together. Aside from that I don't want one wing to look different from the other. Is there a good/easy way to take the cellophane off?
mercifulmaenad (author)  firevixen5 days ago
Did you iron the plastic on really low heat long enough? The plastic should fuse together but it will take a while. If it hasn't fused together, I imagine then that you could still peel the cellophane apart. However, it's still possible that some bits were fused and others weren't. I just pulled mine out from the baesment to inspect them after all these years and there are a few air bubbles and wrinkles that aren't fused, but on the whole, large swathes of plastic are melted together around the wire frame, so there's no peeling apart there at all.

I wish I had more info on the foggy thing. Maybe it's the type of cellophane or the amount of heat application? I would use something like this: http://smile.amazon.com/Iridescent-Wrap-Pack-Rolls-SqFt/dp/B00B103PIC/ref=pd_sim_121_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=1RNSJ4Y8TSQBPS6ZJVEH [NOT affiliate or anything, BTW, just the type of cello I used-ish] and just make sure to spend a lot of time with the heat. My research otherwise turned up nothing. It's possible that different colors of cellophane might show the fogginess more than others?
I saw a woman with yellow styled wings (step 8: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-Cellophane-Wings/) and her photo looked like they might be a bit foggy, too, and like the plastic wasn't actually fused together, which is what leads me to believe it's a time/application-of-heat issue. Or, maybe it's just a thing I'm blissfully unaware of.

FINALLY, I also found this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ap-cH3g4fzU video which (A) is super adorbs because it's fairy wings for dolls and (B) shows her using parchment paper under the iron, so maybe try it with parchment or craft paper instead of something as thick as a towl or dishcloth? She finishes it with heat gun (which I don't have) but starts with just parchment and iron...

Anyhow, I hope it works out. Let me know if you figure it out!

I did use a low heat but it wasn't sticking. i was holding it down for a pretty long while too, but it never really showed that look it gets when it sticks to the frame. I'm using a regular cellophane in an orange color and it's not giving that shinny look i'm used to seeing on fairy wings. I've tried searching for "iridescent orange" but haven't found anything that wasn't super light colored and almost yellow. Has anyone ever put the plain iridescent over a color to give it that glimmer look?

MissSophie1 year ago
Thank you for the instructions! We were the characters from the movie Rise of the guardians for Halloween and I used your instructions to make my little toothfairys wings! Greetings from Germany!
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mercifulmaenad (author)  MissSophie5 days ago

Ha! I'm sorry I'm just now seeing this from a year ago (been outta the loop here) but you all look AMAZING! I love it. Thanks for sharing!!!

AshleyB177 days ago

these are so gorgeous! I have been doing a lot of reading about diy cellophane wings, I'm really nervous about messing them up lol I'm going to comic con at the end of September and really need to get going on my wings lol any tips for a beginner?

mercifulmaenad (author)  AshleyB175 days ago

Mostly go slow and be patient--you can still finish them in two hours. :-)
And, maybe, start big and then scale down? Like with sewing--you can always take things in but you can't always let things out :D
I also just saw a video of a woman using parchment paper instead of a towel, so maybe try that first (still with the iron on LOW heat) to get them fused correctly, as that seems to be a running theme. Good luck! Let us know how they turn out!

after ironing my wings I can still see the spray adhesive through the cellophane. it gives almost a white foggy look to my blue wings that I'm really not a fan of. I tried spraying adhesive on from a further away distance to give a lighter coat, adding heat longer, letting it sit and hoping it would "dry" away. What am I doing wrong?

mercifulmaenad (author)  angela.busse.2510 months ago

Hi Angela,

You know, I never had that problem so I wonder if it a particularly cloudy brand? And, it's been some time since I've made these, but have you tried fusing the cellophane without the glue? The iron is meant to fuse the plastics together and I'm trying to remember if there's a chance I used the spray glue as a means to keeping it together without wrinkling the cellophane under the towel. I would try fusing two small squares of scrap cellophane with the iron as a test run and if it works, do the rest of the swings without the spray adhesive. It probably means being a lot more careful with the fusing process as the cellophane likes to krinkle and SLIDE, so just be mindful of that. I hope that helps some--let me know how they turn out!

really nice. love the circuitry look. I will be making cicada wings. Thanks for the easy instructable.

Hi! used your instructible to do my Chrysalis costume :D

I included a link to yours near the bottom.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Chrysalis-Costume/
zaraphel3 years ago
Thankyou for an awesome tutorial. These are the wings that I made based on this tutorial:
fairy wings.jpg
mercifulmaenad (author)  zaraphel3 years ago
Those look amazing!!! Well done--looks like I could take a lesson from you! Thanks for sharing.
Thankyou!!!
i'm going to try this pattern and hopefully i'll have more luck than what i'm doing now!!1
tbcross4 years ago
I made a pair for my daughter, we live in the middle of nowhere and the closest store carrying cellophane was 60 miles so I stopped in at the florist. They only had one that wasn't opaque but I think they turned out pretty good. I wrapped the wire with electric tape. Thanks for the great idea she loved hers and everyone thought they were beautiful.

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mercifulmaenad (author)  tbcross4 years ago
Those look beautiful! I love the frame design. Thanks for sharing!
kelana4 years ago
awesome.. I really like it..
These are gorgeous! I wish I'd seen this before making my costume. These are way prettier and more delicate then my duct-tape angel wings!
The wings are beautiful and I love the technique! Looks easy enough Thanks for the Instructions.
mercifulmaenad (author)  Goodgodman19644 years ago
Thanks! Hope to see photos of yours, eh?
nickodemus4 years ago
That's a nice finished product, you have some good wire-bending skills.