Wings

Fairy wings are enamoring, capturing and ethereal; there is something about them that is delicate and stunning on stage. They really know how to capture an audience and we have always wanted to make a pair, so we set out to make our own. In the blog, we will talk about – How to make Fairy wings, so you can make pair of your very own!

At this years 2017 NZ Hair And Beauty Expo; The Magic Brush had the privilege of turning one of Apollo Theatre Schools beautiful dancers, Ellyce Bisson into a stunning piece of art taking inspiration from the theme of ‘Flight’. This was a showcase and promotion prior to the NZ Body Art Awards Presentation for 2017, formerly the NZ Body Art Awards.

We invite you to step into our studio and gain insight on some of our pre-production process and behind the scenes work. So much work goes on behind the scenes that is never taken into account, we hope this gives you some insight on how much work we put in for the final outcome. In this blog, we talk about the process of “Flight” – How to make Fairy wings.

 

Preparation is the key to any success; to begin our preparation we needed some inspiration. As we were showcasing at a ‘Beauty’ expo, we decided to go with delicate and dainty, fairy styled wings. Taking our model being petite into consideration, we thought this style of wing and a delicate style body paint would be perfect. We always take our model into consideration when planning any body-paint or costume, as ultimately they are the ones who are showcasing our work and embodying the character we create.

Our second spark of inspiration came from looking through a box of fabric we had in storage. We always try use up some of the hundreds of fabric pieces, costume trims and ribbons etc we have in our studio first. We found a beautiful sheer green/yellow material, and from there the rest just flowed. Since it was a staged event, we thought some form of lighting would really make our piece stand out!

Constructing the frame and boning for our wings

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Things to think about:
We needed to sit down and have a chat about what materials are going to be the best choice for these wing, they need to be relatively strong but not heavy, they also need to be able to stand up on their own. We also needed to think about how we were going to attach the wings to our model without making them look bulky or disturb the body paint. We used wire for the frame; it is lightweight and strong. However, it can be floppy and won’t hold it’s shape, so to strengthen our wire we wound two threads to make one thick wire.

TIP: A quick way to do this – We gave both ends to one person who locked the two ends into a drill whilst the other person held the loop at the other end looped around a piece of wood, any strong material will be fine to hold this end. We did this 7 times to make 7 slightly different length wires. We then found the centre of each wire and just tied them together with sellotape.

Holding the frame shape

The wire can’t hold itself up and stay in shape, perplex was the best option we could think of to create the segments between the wings framing, it is clear, flexible, strong and easy to cut. It was also light and durable. We splayed out the wire to create the shape of the wings and traced the wings segments onto 1mm foam and cut to shape.

These segments were then placed onto perplex and cut to size, to attach these perplex segments to the wire we used a hole punch around the sides that needed to be attached to the wire and wound wired ribbon through the holes and around the wire frame. To hide the wire, we used a hot glue gun and ribbon and wound ribbon around the wire sticking it down as we went. There we have it, our wings are ready to be fabricated but wait,

Brainwave, what if we could make these wings light up!! Lights; they make everything better! This fairy wings would really have that ‘wow’ factor on stage!

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Lights

Since we had two sets of fairy lights lying around in our studio (oh, the treasures we find!!), we attached the battery pack to the base of the wings (where we sellotaped the wires together) with sellotape again. We wanted to keep the batteries accessible when we needed to change them, so with this in mind we sellotaped them down as normal but then carefully cut along the opening to make sure the battery flap could still open and close (with a craft knife).

The copper wire of the fairy lights was wound through the wings using the holes that were punched earlier to thread the lights in a criss-cross manner out each wing using the whole length of the fairy lights copper wire.

Fabrication

The fun part; we experimented alot with our fabric to find ways of adding texture to the fabric using heat. First we tried with a lighter to heat the fabric causing it to shrivel up, this did work to an extent however it was risky as the open flame easily burnt holes in our fabric which for some effects this did look awesome but would take our wings to a much darker fairy tale. As we only wanted to ripple the fabric not burn it we then tried a hair dryer. A hairdryer simple wasn’t hot enough so out come the big guns, a heat gun. With heat settings we could control how much heat to how much shrivel preventing holes in our fabric and creating a beautiful texture.

HINT: Using anything like this where your materials are changing shape/ shrinking, do it BEFORE you cut your materials to size.

Our material is all wrinkly and ready to cut to size. To make the most of your material it is a great idea to lay all your fabric out with your templates on top like a jigsaw you can find the best way for all your segments to fit without wasting tons of fabric.

We used spray contact adhesive by ADOS spraying both the perplex and the fabric, waiting for both sides to dry then placing the fabric onto the perplex to cover. With the perplex being clear and the sheerness of the fabric there was a nice light reflection to the wings which brought out the holographic look of the fabric. 

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Fabricating/hiding the battery packs

The same fabricating techniques were used to cover the battery packs. However, we made a perplex casing that wrapped around the battery packs that could be opened and closed using velcro to keep batteries accessible. This was done with just a long rectangular piece of perplex that was bent to follow the square corners of the battery packs and Velcro-d together on the front.

We covered the plastic casing in a strong, thick black fabric and sewed thick black elastic straps onto the fabric of the battery pack to secure the wings to our model under the arms. The two straps were only sewn on one end leaving them open to be tied, this gave us the option of either just tying them under the armpits, across the chest or under the bust etc, giving us flexibility on the day.

Lastly we used the last of our green fabric to cover the black and away we go to painting!!

Air Brushing

We chose dark green, black and a little dark purple acrylic paint to add shading and depth to the wings, keeping the centre of the wings darker than the outsides and following the wire (veins) of the wings outwards, we started off with dark green as it was the lightest of the colours I was planning on using, always start off lighter as you can add depth but in this case we couldn’t take it away.

Minimal paint work was used and that’s that; there you have it! How to make fairy wings!

Definitely something you could try at home – we’d love to see your versions! Don’t forget to leave us a comment, we’d love to know what you think! 
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