There are a lot of fantastic tutorials out there for creating fairy/pixie wings- this is just the way that I chose to do it for my Pixie costume.
I started out by figuring out how large I wanted the wings to be (HCC cosplay has a wonderful write up here on learning to scale things for yourself in cosplay which is definitely worth a read- that’s pretty much how I scale things for myself, so I’m not going to re-write what they’ve already explained beautifully there). Once size was figured out, I grabbed my reference photos of the wings I wanted to make and painted the general shape onto some pieces of cardstock. To start out with, I only made one side of the pair of wings (one upper wing and one lower wing).
The lines aren’t the cleanest, but that’s fine- the next step is to cut out the white parts with an x-acto knife and that gives me a chance to clean up the edges of the black lines.
Once all of the white parts have been cut out of the wings, I lay them down on more cardstock and traced their outline to make the other two wings (actually, technically I went the super lazy route and just spray painted them over the other cardstock to create the outline for the other two wings). Since I was using white cardstock and I needed the wing veins to be black I ended up spray painting the cardstock black after it was all cut out.
I used iridescent cellophane (you can buy it online in rolls- I think they also sell it at Michael’s craft stores- it seems to be used for wrapping gift baskets generally) for the shimmery wing membranes. You can get some neat effects by crinkling it up, heating it, burning it, etc- it’s fun to experiment with. For my Pixie wings, I crinkled up a bunch of it to give it some texture, then lay it flat on the floor (or whatever your workspace is- I always work on the floor because I’m amazingly clumsy and always manage to knock things off tables…). I sprayed one side of my painted cardstock wing vein pieces with spray adhesive and then set them down on the cellophane to attach them. Once all of my wing vein pieces were attached to the big sheet of cellophane, I cut them out (be careful, the cellophane tears really easily!).
To stabilize the wings, I glued (E-6000) a single piece of aluminum wire along the top of the wing and then let it trail off at the base of the wing. The extra bit of wire is what I would later use to attach the wings to my little harness that went under my Pixie bodysuit.
That’s pretty much it. You can use a hair dryer or heat gun to tighten up the cellophane if it’s too flimsy between your wing veins- be careful not to melt it though. These wings have actually held up surprisingly well considering what they’re made of. If you were feeling ambitious and wanted to spend significantly more money, making the wing veins out of thin metal produces beautiful and far more durable results. For my project I was leaning towards spending as little as possible- all of the materials cost less than $20 for these wings.
During a shoot, photo by Nicole Ciaramella. Wings held into a specific pose for the shoot with gaffer’s tape.
As a final note, the harness that I made for these wings had little channels in it that the pieces of wire for the wings fit into. I wore it underneath my costume and the channels on the harness had to be accessed through grommets in the back of my costume. I couldn’t put the wings on without help, but it made for a nearly seamless attachment which made me really happy- and since there are pretty much no photos of the back of my costume you would probably never know that I spent the time to do that… C’est la vie.