How to Make Angel Wings Out of Cardboard and Paper Mache

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how to make angel wings

DIY angel wings

This project’s inspiration begins with faith, intersects with an angel named Henry, and ends with an obsession.

An obsession like in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, where Richard Dreyfuss’s character exhibits a compulsive mountain-building that grows serious with the mashed potatoes.

My angel wing preoccupation has yet to reach such heights – or depths.

Use recycled materials to create your own angel wings.

Begin with corrugated cardboard.

diy angel wings

Testing out “feather” sizes.

Finding a large enough piece to accommodate your desired size could require some resourcefulness. Check with local stores; a BJ’s employee was just about to break some down when I spotted him.

Determine the overall size based on where you will place your wings, and sketch out a form. I used the angel wing platter from my kids to help me with the general shape.

diy angel wings

Sketching feathers out for idea of size.

To determine the size of your individual feathers, you might wish to first draw a rough idea of what you envision them to look like on the wing. I ended up using several sizes. The very top layer is the smallest. The bottom portion has slender, longer feathers.

For the cutting, I used an extra-large pair of scissors. You could also use an x-acto knife, but it may require many blade changes. However, your hands won’t be as tired as mine were.

diy angel wingsI placed all the feathers on one wing with tape before gluing them with a hot glue gun. This way I could make numerous adjustments. I began layering the feathers on the outer part of the wing and worked inwards. The most difficult part here is in making the second wing reflect the first.

diy angel wings

Paper mache recipe for your wings.

Once the feathers are secure, I mixed up a batch of paper mache using one part flour and five parts water. First mix one cup flour with one cup of water. Boil the remaining four cups of water and add the flour mixture. Stir for 2-3 minutes.

You can tear strips of newspaper, or cut old, thin paper bags, like I did. The tricky part is keeping the definition of the feathers. Because of the nature of corrugated cardboard, this is a necessary step that hides the holes in the edges of your feathers.

paper mache angel wings

The wing on the right has paper mache.

As I worked, I added more water when the mixture thickened too much. Because I ended up adding a second layer of cardboard to the wings to strengthen them (by gluing on another large piece of cardboard to the back), the paper mache served as a perfect edge disguise.

How to paint your DIY angel wings.

Once this dries – at least one day later – the painting begins! First, you must seal the cardboard with a layer of acrylic, such as a varnish, to render it waterproof. Then, you paint it with your base color. I used graphite gray.

After the base coat dries, and you have thoroughly checked to be sure all the nooks are painted, you can paint the top coat. I mixed metallic silver with a glaze, 1 to 1. The recommended application method is called “slip-slap,” applying the shiny silver paint with a brush in a back-and-forth manner, leaving the recesses dark.

Do this in small sections. Then before it dries you quickly remove/mottle it with a bunched up plastic bag. Experiment with this technique in a small area to see how much you want to remove with the plastic bag.

silver angel wings

The shiny silver over darker gray gives the angel wings a tarnished silver appearance, exactly what I was looking for.

diy angel wingsNow to find the right hanging utensil. These will go on the wall over our bed, despite what my husband first said when I told him what I was making.

“Aren’t they going to be too heavy?” he asked, thinking I would be wearing them.

I’ll stick with t-shirt appliques for my wardrobe, thank you very much.

Let me know what you're thinking.