The inspiration which led me to this DIY angel wings project begins with faith, intersects with an angel named Henry, and ends with an obsession akin to 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. Artist Steven Eichenberger lists the brilliant reasons to work with this medium for his equally brilliant paintings.
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, largely based on where you will place your wings, and sketch out a form. I used the angel wing platter from my children to help me with the general shape. There’s a similar DIY angel wings project on Crafty Butt’s blog, where she stains her wings to look like wood, with terrific results.
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 exacto knife, but it may require many blade changes. However, your hands won’t be as tired as mine were.
I placed all the feathers on one of the wings with tape before gluing them with a hot glue gun. This way I could easily 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.
Paper mache 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.
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. Quickly, before it dries, you then 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.
The shiny silver over darker gray gives the angel wings a tarnished silver appearance, exactly what I was looking for.
Now 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.