Picture of Cellophane Fairy Wings in under 2 hrs!

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.

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Step 1: Make your frame

Picture of 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.

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.259 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.

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!
photo-01.11.13 05:13.jpg
Hi! used your instructible to do my Chrysalis costume :D

I included a link to yours near the bottom.

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.
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.

close up wing.JPGwings3.JPG
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.