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.

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.

Step 2: Adding Cellophane

Cut a piece of cellophane large enough to cover one wing frame plus a bit of extra around the edges.  Using that as your template, cut enough additional pieces for the front and back of each additional wing.  If, like me, you have only two wings, you need four pieces of cellophane, ya?

Prep the first cellophane piece.  Set aside your frames and supplies for a moment.  Lay on piece of cellophane on your ironing surface.  Apply a thin layer of spray adhesive to one piece of cellophane. 

Sandwich wing frame in between cellophane pieces. Carefully position your first wing frame on top of the tacky cellophane.  Cover the whole thing with another piece of cellophane.  Be careful with this!  The tacky cellophane isn't very forgiving, so be sure you have your piece postitioned correctly before you drop it onto your wing.

Cover the whole bit with old towel and iron.  If your wings are really big, you might have to do this on the floor with multiple towels; mine fit adequately onto the ironing board.  So, once you have your towel over, apply a low heat, moving steadily (because we used a tacky adhesive, we don't need to worry so much about the top layer of cellophane shifting).  My iron is on '1' for synthetic.  This is not so fast as other methods which will tell you to iron the cellophane directly--this is a terrible idea.  No matter how low you iron is set, it will almost inevitably mean ruin.  Just use a towel--trust me. 

Also, you can use a very low steam to get through the towel.  It will condense on the cellophane, but it wipes right off.  Again, low heat through a towel.  Use your fingers to feel the wires underneath so that you can gauge your progress.  If you lift your towel to find no cellophane has fused, simply repeat until you have fusion.  Take your time.  It only takes one super hot moment to really screw it up. 

Flip and repeat.  Just to make sure you have ample coverage, fusion and vein adhesion, flip your wing over and iron the other side. 

Step 3: Finishing

Almost there! 

Cutting the shape.  Now, trim away excess cellophane with scissors.  Leave at least a quarter inch overlap on the top and bottom fo the frame.  Using a craft knife or scissors, cut scallops along the unframed edge.

*I used a craft knife here because it was easier to control than scissors.  This stuff cuts very easily so go slowly to avoid irreversible mistakes. 

Repeat on wing two.  To make sure you get your scalloped edges even, just lay the first wing on top of the second as a template.  This will ensure your wings are symmetrical, matching, even. 

Burn edges.  BE CAREFUL!   Just like it cuts easily, so does it burn easily.  And, it's plastic so open a window and/or wear a respirator.  You won't be burning a lot, but fumes still happen and I don't want anyone hurt. 

This step happens waaaaay quickly so be prepared to move fast.  Just a tiny bit of heat is needed to seal the edges.  Run the lighter along the scalloped edges.  Then, you can go along the top.  I held mine a little longer at the top of the frame to really melt that quarter inch down to the frame.  If you don't feel comfortable with that, just fold over that top quarter inch and glue it down to one side.  Again, BE CAREFUL!

Burn holes.  This is purely optional, but if you're like me and you want those distress holes, you can burn them with a skewer.  Do NOT attempt this with your lighter--you'll just ruin your wings and smell up the house with toxic fumes.  Instead, get a skewer or incense stick.  Light it and let the flame go out, then just poke it down through the cellophane.  For larger holes, roll your burning skewer around until the plastic melts away to the size you want.  Repeat for both wings.  This technique is especially effective if you are layering colors, by the way.

Wearing your wings.  As i mentioned earlier, I'm planning on shoving the long prong ends into my corset lacing.  You might want a more practical solution, I realize.  In that case, I will recommend checking out Threadbanger's fairy wing tutorial for how to tie both sides together.  Basically, get some matching yarn/thread/cord, bend your prong extensions so that you can twist them together, and wrap, wrap, wrap to secure.  Once you finish wrapping them together, use a pretty satin ribbon in a complementary shade to make a shoulder harness. 

2 People Made This Project!


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26 Discussions


1 year ago

What brand spray glue did you use? Please.

1 reply

HI BevlyF,
It's been a very long time since I made them; I'm not sure what brand I used, though I've often kept 3M on hand, so that's a likely candidate.
Hope that helps!


4 years ago on Step 2

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?

2 replies

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!

I needed to make bee wings for a parade and the tutorial said use cellophane and spray adhesive as you have done (different method for frame). Cellophane just would not stick so I got LARGE (A3) LAMINATING POUCHES which have a sort of heat-activated coating on them. I inserted the frame inside them and ironed on as you have done. They worked a treat. (see pic)


3 years ago

Thanks for the inspiration, I just made a set using some of your techniques.



3 years 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?

2 replies

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: https://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?


5 years 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
1 reply

3 years ago on Introduction

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?

1 reply

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!


5 years ago on Step 3

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


6 years ago on Introduction

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

I included a link to yours near the bottom.


i'm going to try this pattern and hopefully i'll have more luck than what i'm doing now!!1


8 years ago on Introduction

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