I am in the process of creating a room from scratch for my sweet 7-year-old Princess. Until a few months ago, she and Middle were sharing a boy/girl room. We are giving her a girlie, all-her-style whimsical room in the colors of her choice. She is not your typical pink-loving princess. Her favorite color is turquoise. After searching through pages and pages of swatches, she finally decided on the exact shade she wanted. It took me an entire day to crank out painting around all the furniture that’s already in there, but I did it and can now focus on the fun stuff; all the ideas I have pinned to craft. The latest, most exciting (so far) are her angel wings. These are special, because I call her “My Sweet Angel”, a term of endearment my Gran used for me when I was little.
A couple of months ago, I saw Junk Gypsy pull out this amazing set of carved, wooden angel wings from The Antique Gypsy in Brenham, TX. I was completely smitten. I believe they paid around $80 for them. Not a bad price but a little out of the range I wanted to pay and would still need to paint them. We recently made the quick trip to Brenham to tour the Blue Bell Factory with the kiddos. Afterwards, hubby sweetly took me to the heart of the antique shops where I squealed with delight after coming face to face with the Antique Gypsy shop. Immediately I noticed similar angel wings in the display window marked up by $100 from the price I had originally seen the JG purchase them for. My heart sank. I decided I was likely going to make my own, I just needed to figure out the logistics.
Late one night, I was feeding my Pinterest obsession when I stumbled upon this tutorial from Crafty Butt. She geniusly figured out a way to create carved looking wings from cardboard and paper mache. They are gorgeous, cheap, and super lightweight which is a bonus. I added my own techniques to give them the look I was going for and took pictures along the way. Here’s my tweak on the already fabulous tutorial.
I started with a sheet of cardboard that I try to keep on hand from when I order my custom canvases.
I then created a shape for the feathers I wanted to use and traced the template over and over and over….until I had enough to fill up both wings. I think I ended up with 70+. This is tedious and not for the faint of heart. You will likely be sore or get blisters from cutting the thick cardboard, but it’s so worth it. I promise. If you stick to this process, you won’t only have a gorgeous, finished project that you made from nothing with your bare hands, you will win over the sweet angel you are making these for (unless these are for your own enjoyment which I say is even more rewarding).
Paper mache is the next step and is a bit of a process in of itself. Having a helper will make things go by faster and is way more fun. I used a cold flour/water mixture. I just added enough water to my flour to make the consistency of pancake batter. I used a whisk to beat out all the lumps which is a must to make these as smooth as possible. We covered each individual feather by wrapping them with the saturated paper strips. This detail will help the feathers curve upward once dry, giving them some beautiful dimension in the end.
Once the wings are covered in paper mache, they will need to dry. I put them outside so the Houston heat could do its thing. I let them dry out over night to make sure they were completely done before completing the next wet steps.
You could go on and paint the wings once the paper mache is dry. This next part isn’t essential, but I really wanted a dimensional, carved look in the end and felt like this bit would help the longevity of all my hard work. I applied two coats of acrylic gesso. This stuff acts as a primer, but is also like adding a hard coating to an already fragile piece. It gives it a little more stamina and works as a preservative. Think protective tooth enamel. I discovered gesso when I created my belly cast for my third little. It has made that sucker super hard and very durable. Last week, the bump took a tumble off the wall and on to the floor. I was afraid to even look at it. That project took me weeks to finish, but when I picked it up there wasn’t so much as a crack or chip. I firmly believe it was thanks to the gesso. So two coats each, the wings received. It takes about 30 minutes for each coat to dry.
Once the gesso dried, I took the wings outside and gave them a nice two coats of Krylon flat white spray paint. Normally, I would have chosen to use Any Sloan chalk paint, but there are so many grooves to work into, spray paint is the most logical choice.
After the spray paint dried, I applied a dark walnut Minwax stain with a paper towel working it in ever so slightly and not saturating the paper towel with stain. I wanted it to wipe on in a thin layer that I could easily wipe off with a dry paper towel and still have a slight tint. A little really goes a long way. I didn’t wait for the stain to dry before I took a medium grit sandpaper to each feather. This step adds scratches inside the stain lifting it off in just the right way to make it look like wood grain.
Without waiting for them to dry, I coated the stained and sanded wings with a super light white wash. I acquired this look by significantly watering down a white acrylic paint and brushing it on in a thin, light coat and then wiping it off with a dry paper towel. The purpose of this is to soften the striations of the stain. It doesn’t take away from the faux wood finish, it just evens it out a little more giving it a blended finish. If you are going for a more harsh, rustic finish, then this step can be eliminated. I put ‘em in the sun to dry out for about 30 minutes before bringing them inside. The next part is really, super scientific. So, get ready!
These babies won’t hang by themselves so they need a “hook” on the back. There are several ways you could go about creating something to hang these from, but for me this was a no brainer. It’s lightweight, easy and works. I have used this on several projects and swear by the stamina of a pop tab. Just hot glue that baby on…
…then hot glue a piece of fabric or ribbon on top of it to really secure it… ….and BOOM! Instant hanging art is born. Notice the backs aren’t that pretty. I could have paper mached the backs too, but this is already a tedious and time consuming project that there was no way I was interested in finishing the side of the piece that would never be seen (except to the people who view this tutorial).
In the end, these took a while to finish but they really do look fantastic on Princess’ wall. They came out exactly how I wanted them to and were completely free as I had all the goodies on hand already to crank these out. I say that beats $180 price tag any day of the week and I have the satisfaction of having made something special for my Sweet Angel’s room that she will treasure, as will I the memory of having done this with her.