How to Make Angel Wings used for Glamour & Fine Art Photography

June 17, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I had a vision one day to create an image of a beautiful girl in angel wings wandering in a field or a forest.  After some online research, I discovered that wings are fairly pricey and that I could probably just make them myself.  I didn't find a how to guide that was exactly what I was looking for, but I did get a lot of inspiration from the many Victoria's Secret ladies donning their beautiful wings.  So here is what I did....

A trip to Home Depot was necessary to pick up the items pictured below.  I figured the poultry netting would make a good foundation to hold everything together.  What I didn't count on was the memory of the wire which constantly sought to be bound back up in a coil.  The bad news is it was a bear to work with, the good news is that it's natural tendency to recoil made it mimic the curvature of wings quite well.  If you go this direction, be sure to get yourself padded leather gloves or your hands will be a mess.  

Images with home made wings

I had already formed the 6 foot piece of copper wire I purchased when I took the above photo (they sell it from a large spool, just ask someone to cut it).  If I had it to do again, I would have purchased an 8-9 foot piece so I could completely outline the shape of the wings.  The piece I had went from the middle bend pictured (meant to be tucked in the back of a bra or corset), to the outer edge of the wings.  It did not wind around the bottom and back up to the middle as you can see below.  Connecting it back to the back piece would have made it more stable and also would have avoided sharp edges from poking against the person wearing them.  Snags and scratches were a constant worry when in use.

Images with home made wings

You can see above, the next step was to cut the poultry netting to fit inside the frame of the wings.  Wire cutters, pliers, and gloves were essential for that step.   I simply cut two big pieces to fit my framework then snipped and formed them around it.    I used some scrap wood to hold them flat as there was constant tension to recoil. 

Once done, the next step for me was to line the poultry netting with something soft and white.  I didn't want to only use feathers due to the expense.  I did find a source online that was very reasonable, if you go to Hobby Lobby or the like you will pay significantly more.  Here's the link:   You could use batting, cotton, really anything soft and white.  I happen to have three downy soft wing undercoat generators that live in my house, here are two:  :D

I took handfuls of the fur and spray glued it to the framework.  Elmer's spray adhesive worked well for this and also for affixing the ostrich feathers to base.  I only had enough to do one layer on each side of the wings, so I spread them out and added them by spraying the undercoat.  I then affixed the feather until both sides were covered. I have since ordered more feathers so I can go back in and fill in any gaps and finish a few areas that I knew for the shoot would be tucked behind my model.  

I also bought two feather boas at Hobby Lobby to wind around the top side of the wings.  I hot glued those to the copper wire. You can see them here:

Images with home made wings

And I bought four packs of longer feathers for the end of the wings, I thought both the boas and the longer end feathers netted a more realistic look.  

Images with home made wings

You be the judge, here are several photos from the shoot I made them for. I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. :)

Images with home made wings Images with home made wings I changed the coloring in several as you can see, this next one the wings appear to have pink but that was added in post.

Images with home made wings

Images with home made wings


If I had it to do over again, I would have secured the back piece from pulling apart by getting a metal piece to slide the v-shape into that held it taught.  Think of a wire hanger, when you apply too much weight it will bend.  We were fighting against gravity so I will go back and secure that piece at the top of the wings to keep them from drooping.  I also will go back in and cover any pieces of poultry netting sticking out on the edges with some sort of material.  I need to go shop for that since they are already constructed.  I might have wrapped them in felt before applying feathers and such had I thought about it during construction.   You can also add straps for arms, I didn't want them because I wanted the illusion that they were real.  That said, make sure your model wears a strong bra or corset to hold them.  I hope this was helpful to you.   :)



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