The Best DIY Process for Iridescent, Clear Cellophane and Nonclear Cellophane blend Fairy WingsI have seen countless movie quality Tinkerbell Cosplays that have been finished with a pair of clear cellophane wings or organza wings and this might be the reason that The Clear Fairy Wings are our most sought after pattern and tutorial. The appeal may also be that a child size pair can be created in 2 hours or less and the materials are affordable and easily accessible; or perhaps, most important of all, the result is gorgeous, fun, and looks great in photography.
We are going to drive straight in with the type of wire you should use, briefly discuss cellophane and usable cellophane like materials, then go over a detailed materials list, including the downloadable wing pattern PDFs, follow with application steps and photos, and finally end with finished photos, out in action. At the end of our post we have also included links to other tutorials that I used for reference, excellent YouTube DIY Fairy Wing Tutorials, and other helpful links and references that you may also find useful.
The materials are listed below. I recommend starting with choosing the wire type and gauge and wing material (cellophane or blend, etc.).
First, a wire that creates the rigidity and thickness you want is key:
Aluminum is incredibly light and easy to form; Steel is more rigid, and will hold form really well but also take more effort to bend.
***I always recommend aluminum wire for kids wings, since they are lighter, and gentler, and can be bent back into shape with relative ease if needed.
Next, The gauge of the wire you chose will also be based on how thick you would like it to look and again how easily you want it to bend (or not bend).
I do recommend using anything within 9-14 gauge.
***I used a 12 gauge steel for all of my wing builds on the blog; it is sold in 8-12+ foot rolls at my local (and other) hardware stores.
***For the harness in the back I also used old hangers, given that I did not want them to move and the hangars are incredibly rigid.
When picking your wing material keep the end wing design/look you want in mind.
I have linked the materials I used however I really want to stress that some materials work better than others: Cellophane works great because it will seal to itself under low heat application. You don't have to use cellophane, just use a material that has the correct color and opacity, iridescence, etc but also behaves like cellophane and will seal to its self slightly without melting entirely. Of course it is very easy to accidentally melt the cellophane or cellophane like materials if heat is applied too directly or for too long a period of time in one location. However, some materials are even less durable and rather than "sealing" to themselves, will out right melt under even gentle attempts to "seal" them so be very mindful of the heat tolerance of your material.
I chose a Red, Iridescent Cellophane for the smallest, diamond shaped wings: 39 x 138 Inch Iridescent Cellophane
And a Reversible Gold Silver Table Cloth from Target or Walmart, a leftover extra from a birthday party, something like this:
- Leather or other protective work gloves
- 9-14 Gauge Aluminum or Steel Wire, several feet
- Cellophane or Cellophane blend or similar material
- Spray Adhesive (I recommend Elmers)
- Large Poster Board or comparable material
- 2 pairs Needle Nose Pliers
- Tin snips or Wire Cutters (or use the cutting section of the pliers)
- very strong (but still malleable) Wire, I used old coat hangers after removing the paper covering
- an iron or (if you can) a heat gun
- 2 tea towels
- Wing Pattern Design, to size, or the inspiration to create your own design!
- Wing decor or embellishments, such as: glitter, florals, paint, rhinestones, gems, etc
*** Please make these wings in a well ventilated area
Gather your materials. Choose your wire and wing material.
Either print your wing pattern out and lay out by number and tape to size (we have included youth size and adult with a few of the patterns, others are offered in one or the other) or use a poster board, pencil, markers, and inspiration to draw your own (lots of wonderful ideas on the web for all variety of fairy wing types!).
Classic Wing Shape PDF here
Hexagonal Wing Shape PDF here
The Floral Wing Shape PDF here
Start your wing "skeleton" by leaving 6 in to 12 in of wire unattached/open at the end to start, Bend your wire to the shape of your pattern to form the outermost outline of your wing frame. I recommend using the needle nose pliers set to bend or "crimp" your wire past your desired angle first, then opening it back to the wanted angle. Close all open ends of your wire (except the first open 6 in- 12 in, end to the main frame, this will attach the whole wing to the harness system). Wrap them around the outermost frame, or if necessary to leave an open end of wire for your design I recommend putting a little "cap" of hot glue on the end to protect that wire from poking out of your wings and into unwitting victims. Attach all internal wire design and wire details to your wing skeleton.
Now do this a a second time, to finish your set of wings.
***Optional step, for both safety and aesthetic, I recommend this step for every pair of children's wings: At this point you have the option of wrapping the wire in tape or even ribbon: If you are seeking to change the color of the wire of the frame or wrap it in an extra safety layer, wrapping it in any colored ribbon, electrical tape, duct tape, craft tape, etc. is an excellent option. If you choose to use ribbon, remember to hold it in place with glue at the wrapped ends and by lightly painting glue over sections of the wrapped ribbon.
Step 4: (an important consideration before you proceed)
Now that you have an excellent fairy wing "skeleton" its time to either attach it to your harness back
attach your cellophane.I found it easiest wait to attach my wings to my harness system until the end of the build; however if you are creating wings that will stay on your harness permanently then this maybe the best time to attach them to your main harness component. The main concern here would be ripping or damaging the cellophane of the wings while attaching them to the harness, versus attaching the cellophane material with your harness system potentially obstructing your work. My wings and harness system were both large and the cellophane durable enough that it made since to attach to the harness after the cellophane was applied and set.
Countless tutorials recommend a large variety of ways to attach your wings to your person however you will need to choose what suits you best based on who will be wearing the wings and what they will be doing.
I chose to attach my wing harness to an old kid size backpack. It was a small, light fabric backpack that was easy to deconstruct. Leaving myself with a soft back piece with arm straps, to attach my main wing harness to, by closing the bag back around the hard back harness system with a straight stitch. While my wing set was a bit heavier, and very easily caught by the wind, I found my harness system kept the wings in place while being frolic and photo friendly.
For the toddler's fairy wings I used elastic with soft fabric sleeves to create arm straps. She seemed to approve and continued about her usual toddler activities, but with adorable, pink wings.
We will include a link to our harness build tutorial soon.
Step 4: (finally!)
Now we get to attach our cellophane, or cellophane blend, or cellophane like material.
- Start by cutting out 4 sheets of cellophane large enough to cover each wing.
- Now to make this a Fairy Wing Sandwich: Lay out your first tea towel, or large crafting towel, etc (I used large old beach towels, that we use exclusively for messy crafts)
- Lay down one layer of cellophane on top of the towel or tea towel
- Spray a light layer of the spray adhesive over the entirety of your cellophane
- Set your first wing frame down slowly, careful to help the cellophane adhere evenly and as wrinkle free as possible. At this point it is possible to pull it free from the frame and straighten as needed however this will change the opacity of clear materials and it really is easier to be slow and steady the first time. Besides a few wrinkles in the cellophane really won't look terrible anyways.
- Now that your frame is applied to one layer of cellophane, spray lightly with the spray adhesive a second time, careful to apply evenly to the frame especially.
- *If you would like to add glitter or any other tiny embellishments that you would like sealed inside the wing now is the time to add them carefully quickly!
- now for the top layer of cellophane: Go even more slowly and carefully for this next layer of cellophane, as you will not be able to peel it off and reapply it this time. You get one chance! Very carefully starting at one side/corner, or the middle of the wings (your preference), apply your top layer of cellophane or like material, avoid creating air bubbles as best as possible. Move slowly across, smoothing air bubbles out, until the second sheet is fully laid down. At this point you can go in and carefully smooth any air bubbles out if possible, some air bubbles will be impossible to remove, and a few will not ruin the look of the wings at all.
- Now trim any extreme excess of cellophane or cellophane like material off your wings, but leave an inch or two inch thick edge around the frame of your wings, to accommodate shrinkage and so that we can create a real clean seal on our cellophane!
- Next lay down your next tea towel over the last layer of cellophane and I do recommend a smaller towel for this a part, as it made it easy to see my progress!
- Now that we have a Fairy Wing sandwich, its time heat and seal it: Careful not to leave the heat on in any one place slowly iron a section of the wings, move to another and examine your work in the first section; the cellophane or cellophane like material will begin to almost suction to itself and wrinkle very slightly.
- Repeat this process until you have sealed the entire wing on the top side
- Now trim your wings very carefully to edge that want; you must leave enough cellophane material to stay sealed and it does look pretty to see an outline around the frame
- Flip your wing over and repeat the heating and sealing process very carefully on the other side
- Stand back and admire! Then check for any spots that might need sealed up a bit cleaner or trimmed a bit neater!
- Repeat on your second wing.
- Embellish!! Paint, glitter, glue, etc. or love them the way they are!
- Attach to your harness system, if not attached in a previous step.
**Use all appropriate safety measure against the heat of either your iron or heat gun, use hand protection and do not leave hot devices unattended or near kids.
**Create your wings in a well ventilated area.
** Cover/protect your wing "skeleton" ends so they do not poke, scrape, stab anyone (or ruin the longevity of the wings)
** Never leave toddlers or young children unattended in the fairy wings or any costume wear.
Here is the link to the original tutorial I used as a guide for my wing sets: