If you’re interested, dress instructions are here.
On to the wings. The wings are tricky. The front and back are different, and you need a way for them to attach, while looking like everything is one piece of stone. I combined ideas from Kilayi’s post and Penwiper’s TheRPF thread.
What you need for the wings:
About 2m of pvc pipe. I used 22mm wide.
45° pipe joints (4)
90° pipe joints (2)
T pipe joints (2)
large foamcore board (2) – this is a light foam with paper glued either side to keep it rigid.
A LOT of 6mm EVA foam – I used 2 cheap yoga mats and a handful of A4 sheets when I ran out!
SO MUCH GLUE. Glue guns are your friend, or failing that a fast acting superglue.
You’ll really want a craft knife too for the foamcore, help yourself out and buy a cheap one. I managed with scissors but it was a bit nightmarish.
This picture I printed from Kilayi – the plan was to use her PVC boning system, combined with Penwiper’s foamcore centre layer to make them solid.
As you can see, I kind of divided up lengths and stuff and figured out a ratio to use to blow it up to the right size. I’m 5 ft 6, and decided on just over 3 feet long. I looked for photos of a full wing from the actual show to use, but I couldn’t find one that clearly showed a whole wing, so I am hugely indebted to Kilayi for this one! All in all I spent about 2-3 hours one evening calculating the dimensions and transferring a version of it to some scrap wallpaper for a template for the foam core.
Remember, this is going to be hidden by the foam, so you don’t need the individual feather shaping at the bottom, but it helps to remember where things will be. You’ll also want the feathers to overlap and meet at the edges, so allow for that when cutting them out later.
Next you want to arrange the pipe into this kind of construction. The horizontal sections are very slightly bent to help get up into that raised part at the top. It takes very little heat to do this, I held mine over my gas kitchen hob for a few seconds and then quickly stuck it in the joint and bent it. It will need glue in that joint, and the melt changes the shape enough that it’s not tight. I glued all my joints, just to be safe!
In that picture you can see that the pipes are sunk into the foam core. I traced around them onto the wing and cut out the section. This way, after you add the foam you’re not left with a flat side and a side with a big bulge (cheeky!) and you get a bit of thickness to the top of your wing on both sides. after fitting them in, I punched tiny holes in the foam core with my small scissors either side of the pipe and secured it that way.
Next, plan out your feathers. You’ll need a few pictures of the front and back of the wings – google images is good, or you can use the finished wing images lower in this post. Be sure to look at how and where they overlap, and leave enough extra on them to do it. Start cutting out the feathers, and before long, your ‘workspace’ (ie, my front room) will look like this…
Don’t start to glue anything down until it’s all cut out and planned, or you’ll get gaps or mistakes. I didn’t get pictures of individual feathers, but you’ll see below that they have score marks down the centre and uneven notches to look a bit more like feathers. Begin gluing…now. Glue to the foam, or the bone pipes, but NOT the vertical pipe that will attach to your harness. It needs to be totally clear so it can be hidden within the dress and attach easily to the harness. After a long time and several mild burns (if using hot glue), or sticking of yourself to who knows what (superglue), or both, you’ll arrive at this point.
This is where I’ll point out – get foam as close to grey as possible. I couldn’t find sheets of grey cheap enough to justify it, but definitely look, because it is SUCH a pain in the butt getting paint right in all the nooks and crannies. on the fronts with the grey parts I didn’t have to be quite so careful to get every speck.
And the paint job, the same as the dress – dark grey all over – two coats here to fully cover the foam – then a mid grey of highlights, then a light grey of smaller highlights. you can also do a wash of thinned down black in the creases where you apply and wipe off quickly so just the crevices are nice and grimy. I think it’s a great way to age stuff, but I left it off of this project as I think it might have been too much. Leave it to dry and you’re done!
The only addition I made after this was adding a small amount of fabric to the wing base to hide where it will be joining the dress, hiding any gaps. I just made a loop of fabric and glued it on to the feathers (not the pipe) and let it hang over the pipe. Paint it with the rest, or if you add it after like me, just match the best you can. The highlights help disguise it anyway if it’s not spot on.
On to the harness.
a cheap/old backpack, or strapping with its assorted clippy bits.
A small amount of scrap fabric
a small piece of wood or similar material
Off cut of EVA foam to line the back
4 pipe clips – matching size to your pipe
Start with the wood. You want a small rectangle (mine is rounded at the top like a grave stone shape, because that was the shape backpack I had) that will comfortably fit your back. Attach the pipe clips with the screws. I also drilled small holes either side of the clips and cable tied them on too, because I used two layers of thin plyboard because that’s what I had, and on removing the pipes from the clip, the screws were less than secure. Glue foam to the back of the wood for comfort.
Use the scrap fabric to sew a well-fitting envelope for the wood, with holes with strengthening stitching for the pipeclips. This needs sewing to the back pack if using or straps attaching to it. I had a small backpack spare as it had a hole in the front, so I cut off all of the front and sides, and sewed the envelope directly to the back. Originally I was going to detach the straps and sew them back on to the envelope, but I thought why mess with something that’s worked fine!
You have to sew all around the wood, so it doesn’t flop about in the envelope. I sewed it with the wood piece in it for the whole time, but you could leave it out until you have to sew in the top. That would be easier, but you’re more likely to go in too close and be unable to get it in position. I painted the straps as they were bright red and a tiny section was visible. Tiny, but bright red on a grey costume. No good. I also used a ribbon to tie the straps together at the front, holding everything in place a bit more securely.
The harness goes under the dress, and two small slits are made in the back of the dress, just above the top pipe clip. The wing pipe slides in the hole, and just pops straight onto the clips. This way, the wings can rotate so they point back, or out to the side, or in between, but they also stay pretty well where you put them. This also means that if they get a bit knocked by the crowd, they will simply move rather than snap off. It was also useful for a brief sit down to eat at lunchtime. I wasn’t able to fully sit, but I did manage a short perch on the edge of a chair 🙂
That’s it for wings, not too hard on the face of it, but lots of planning involved.
Next, the wig, mask and gloves, and then we’re done!