How to Make Wearable Wings

comments (1) October 26th, 2008     

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FriendyWendy Wendy Sloneker, contributor
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Ta-da! Oh, yes, you can create these, too!
A butterfly frame.
Add elastic but not too tightly! This is for fitting.
Ta-da! Oh, yes, you can create these, too!

Ta-da! Oh, yes, you can create these, too!

Photo: Wendy Sloneker
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These wings are sure to give you a lift! Bird, butterfly, bat, or dragonfly...or your own design. Absolutely! Warm up your hands to work the stiff wire, and bend away to create your own wingspan for costumes or dress-up. Goth them out, pretty them up, and wear the heck out of them!

You can make these, too!

Wendy's Wearable Wings: This version touts plaster cloth and paint on a wire armature—elastic loops for arms. I'm ready for takeoff! Or just a trip to the store for more milk.


  • Baling, or baler's, wire (yep, the reference here is for hay, as in hay bales) from a hardware store
  • Clear acrylic finishing spray or Mod Podge and a foam brush—either, not both
  • Heavy duty wire snips—do not ruin your jeweler's cutters on this project!
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Elastic cord
  • Clear nail polish
  • Decorative elements: plaster cloth and paint, tulle netting, spider-web material, ribbons, beads, faux fur/boas to line the wire with

Getting Started
Baling wire smells stinky and it sometimes leaves a stain (it rusts), so plan to wash your hands! Or use latex or gardener's gloves while working with it. The basic structure is ideally made from one very long piece of wire. Shape a square or rectangle that will rest against the shoulder blades. Elastic will be tied to the upper corner points of this rectangle and again at the midpoint or lower corners of the rectangle.

Measure—or estimate—from shoulder blade to shoulder blade. This is the width of the rectangle. The height of the rectangle/square should be at least 6 inches.
Wrap the ends of the wire around the rectangle/square and squeeze the ends of the wire with the needle-nose pliers. Make sure the ends are coiled tight and won't snag at clothing or scratch skin.

Wire armature

One long piece of wire creates this armature. Tie the elastics to the top of each side of the rectangle, then loosely at the mid connecting points of the wings. Tie securely once you have the right fit.

Create Your Wings!
For the butterfly wings, start with the upper corner and curve the wire in a large loop. Wrap the end at the center of the rectangle by wrapping the wire and squeezing the coil tight with pliers. Curve a smaller wing at the bottom and wrap wire at the lower corner. Run a length of wire along the lower width of the rectangle, and wrap the wire around the lower opposite corner before beginning to curve the smaller lower wing. Attach in the middle of the rectangle. Estimate the wire you'll need to finish the larger part of the upper wing, then cut the wire and shape the wing. Wrap the wire around the upper corner of the rectangle and snip any excess. Make sure those ends are squeezed tightly—no scratches or snags, please!

Seal the Deal
Using Mod Podge applied with a foam brush or clear acrylic spray will prevent staining while you cover the wire armature with your decoration of choice. Let it dry.

Elastic attachments.

Attach the elastic cords—don't knot them too tightly! Try on the wings for fit, then secure the knots.

Knot Too Tight
Cut two lengths—about 12 inches each—of elastic cord. Tie one end to an upper corner of the rectangle with a square knot. Tie the other end to the midsection of the rectangle with a square knot. Repeat on the other side. Don't tie them too tightly because now it's time to try it on! Adjust the knot or call it good and dab the knots with clear nail polish to secure.

I had some time and some good sunshine to try out plaster cloth and paint. This option is a bit heavier than the others but just as fun! For the plaster cloth, read the manufacturer's directions, follow along, paint your design—and don't forget the glitter, baby!

Draping Plaster Cloth.

Plaster cloth comes in sheets. If you must work in sections, I recommend you complete one section before moving on to the next. I used approximately three small rolls for this set o' wings.


Plain Plaster Wings

Otto is "helping." He's really just a camera hog. Good thing the plaster's dry!

Other Ideas to Cover the Wings
• Tulle netting: Use four pieces to cover the wings, and bunch the ends to cover the rectangle structure. Secure the bunch with rubber bands or needle and thread.

• Ribbons: Really thick ones! Wrap and/or weave the ribbons in any fashion you choose. Mylar strips could be very sparkly and fun here!

• Feather boa: Follow along the wing designs with yards of feather boa, and if you're handy with a glue gun, use it. I tend to get burned, so will stick to tacking it into place with needle and thread.

• Old nylon stockings: Two pairs, black or pink? This would be ideal for the long and flat shape of dragonfly wings. Cut the legs off of the stockings, slip the wing into the stocking, and secure to the rectangle structure.

You can cover the rectangle with additional tulle netting or anything else that would camouflage or cover the wire.

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Comments (1)

sigridsoto writes: Very pretty I will try this one to
Posted: 5:30 am on January 7th
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