Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wing Tutorial at Last!

I promised this tutorial ages ago and since I was making a pile of wings this week, I decided now was the time. "Pile of wings"...hmm...is there a collective noun for a group of wings? Ack, I've been distracted by my inner word geek...back to the tutorial.

There are a few supplies that you'll need to make fairy wings:
plain white paper (copy, notebook, whatever)
32 gauge Florist's cloth covered wire ( the kind on a spool is best link)
small sharp scissors
non-toxic craft glue (I use Aleene's Tacky glue)
textile paint (I love Lumiere!)
a sheer shimmery fabric
dimensional or puffy fabric paint
applicator bottle and metal tip ( This is very important for those fine lines. Available here.)
an old towel
wax paper

Now that you have your tools assembled let's go! The first thing you need is a wing design.
Look at pictures of butterflies and just make one that works for you. Here's one of mine:
You'll need to have veins drawn on your wing and you will need to have a reverse copy. You can make this with your printer or simply tape the drawing to a sunny window and trace the pattern on the back side of the paper. (I like this; less wasteful of paper.)

Now take your wire and shape it to the outer lines of your pattern. Twist the ends together at the base of the wing and leave a tail. Easy peasy! How long of a "tail" depends on what type of doll I'm making. For the small dollhouse size pixies I need about 3" so I can wrap it around the doll.
 Now paint the wing on both sides with the textile paint and let it dry. I like to use an egg carton with small holes punched in the bottom for my drying rack, it works great!
When the wings are dry, you'll need to cut a piece of the sheer fabric. Cut it bigger than the wing on all sides.

Here's where the old towel comes in. Apply the glue to ONE side of the wing. Remember you need a right and left wing so make sure you take this into account when gluing. I do this on top of an old towel and then gently blot the glue so it is evenly distributed and not too thick. Then lay the wing on the sheer fabric and gently press together (I use the towel for this as well.)

Now put your wing on a piece of wax paper. Once you've finished gluing all your wings, place another piece of wax paper on top and then weight them all down with a heavy book or two...at last those high school year books come in handy! You'll need to let these dry for 4-6 hours and then open the wax paper and give them an additional 30 mins or so. The glue needs to be completely dry.
Okay, now it's time to cut away the excess fabric from the outside of the wing. Be patient and cut carefully, right next to the wire. If the fabric is not sticking in any areas apply a tiny bit of glue and press together with your fingers; let dry again and then trim.The next step is to mark the veins on the wing, this is why you needed a reverse pattern. I do this in pencil, but it depends on the fabric, a dark silk may require a white marking pen.
 Now for the tricky part. You can use the tip that is already on the dimensional paint but I just don't think that they have a fine enough line. I switch out the tip on the bottle for a one of these in a size 5. This makes a very fine line.
 Hold the wing slightly up and go carefully here when applying your lines as it's easy to make a mistake. If you really mess up you can blot the wing with a wet cloth, let it dry, and start over.
When you're done place the wing in a slightly bent position to dry. You don't want the wing lying flat at any point in this part of the process as the paint will soak through and spread.

 Once the wings are dry, which takes about an hour, you're ready to go!
I hope this is helpful, please ask away in the comments section if you have any questions.


  1. What a fantastic tutorial! you would not believe how many failed attempts I made to make fairy wings when I was younger.

  2. So pretty! And very neat to watch the progress. :-)

  3. I really enjoyed this tutorial. Gorgeous!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Your dolls are beautifully whimsical and magical!

  5. You put your right wing in,
    you put your right wing out,
    you put your right wing in.
    and you shake it all about!

    You should have seen the tiny little broom Bruce made for a Chris Van Allsburg project (The Widow's Broom)- it was perfect and tiny! Reminded me of you!

  6. OMG! This Tutorial is great! I love your whimsical dolls...you make amazing and very beautiful things....

  7. Wow! What great information! I'm sure my daughter would love to know how to make fairy wings! I'll have to share this with her.

  8. Wonderful! Thank you so much for a great tutorial!

  9. Cynthia I love your tutorials, everything is so clearly defined and it is so generous of you to share your techniques, thank you!

  10. Great! Thank you for teaching us. I love butterflies, fairies, and angels...they all have wings...

  11. what a beautiful tutorial! it will come in very handy for the fairy doll swap I'm hosting right now!

  12. FaeCyn, Wow! You have such lovely posts! So inspiring, the doll and wing tutorials...if only I had the time and patience for such handwork!

  13. Thank you for the tutorial! I'm especially happy to see the idea to get a gutta resist tip-that would have saved my sanity a few times! : )

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  15. love it!!!!!!!!!! thank you oh great doll goddess

  16. Hey! You have just received an award on my site! :-D I think your blog is wonderful!

  17. OMG...this is awesome! Thank you so much for the tutorial.
    Peace & Love,

  18. Fantastic! Thank you for sharing!

  19. Thank you for this it's a great tut!!!

  20. Neat! Cool to know. They're so shiny and sparkly.

  21. Thank you very much, for sharing this tutorial!
    I am looking forward to giving this project a go, sometime later this week.
    Thanks again!

  22. Thank you for this tutorial, it's the best one and makes so much sense that I can actually follow it and make wings from!

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  24. I have just read through your tutorial and have to thankyou for your genorosity in sharing it with us. Your dolls are truely beautiful!

  25. I sure wish I had read this totorial before I worked for 2 hours on my organza wings. GRRRR!!!! I have been wrapping the excess organza around the back of the wing to secure it even after I glued it to the back. Wow. How easy is yours. Will try again, this time with your instructions.

    Do you recommend any specific glue for securing the wings tightly? Thanks so much for your willingness to help. Love your fairies. God bless.


  26. Oops so sorry just saw it was tacky glue. I was using fabric glue and it has not worked well. off to get some tacky glue. Thanks again. God bless. Cathy

  27. Hi Cynthia,

    I am so sorry to drive you nuts but I bought white floral wire today and it did not have a gauge on it. It is very flimsy. How tough is the wire you use? I don't want to start wings and have it been super easy. Could you let me know? I have been tempted to go by the 20 gauge green wire, paint it and see how that works. Please let me know. Thanks so much .


  28. WOW! I almost burned up my pumpkin bread, I was so absorbed in your tutorials. Thank you for sharing your techniques and helping to improve doll-making for us all. I can't wait to make something!


  29. Beautiful technique; thanks for sharing!

  30. This is FAB!!!ThAnKyOu..

  31. Thank you soooo much for your fairy wing tutorial! I have been looking for an easy but realistic pattern, and this is it!

  32. You are very welcome Pam! I'm so glad it was helpful.

  33. Your dolls are beautifully made, and this is such an ingenious way to make fairy wings! Thank you for taking the time to show us how it is done :-)



  34. Fantastic tutorial. I am going to combine this with some of Di van Niekerk's ribbon embroidery techniques for flower fairies. She always uses solid (needle painted) moth-style wings for her fairies, and I really wanted the option of transparent wings for some of the Cicely Mary Barker designs. Now (thanks to you) I can do this!
    Really appreciate you taking the time to explain your technique - your fairies are gorgeous.Thank you so much!