We teamed up with Sara of C’est La Sara to create this tutorial, using clear face shields and Worbla’s Black Art to create these fantastical fairy wings! Take a look at the process used to make these come together below.
Sprite Darter Wings Worbla Tutorial
By Sara (Cestlasara)
Worbla’s Black Art thermoplastics are a great option for providing a rigid structure for fairy type wings, and throughout this process it’s also possible to minimize waste by recycling the scraps into new sheets again! In this particular tutorial, I also discuss how it’s possible to work with Worbla in mixed media applications! I used cut up face shields taped together when creating the plastic translucent part of the wings.
Tools I have used:
• Heavy Duty Pasta Roller (with the outer covers removed) for recycling Worbla scraps
• Wooden sculpturing tools
• PVC Pipe Cutter
• Power drill
• Worbla’s Black Art
• Clear shipping tape
• A PVC Pipe for the wings attachment to a harness
• About 15-20 face shields or translucent similar weight translucent plastic of your choice
• Contact cement glue, dispensed in food safe bottles when in use
• Tracing paper
• EVA Foam roll (2mm thick, high density preferred)
• Zip ties (for the wing attachment)
• (optional but highly recommended) 2-part epoxy glue or E6000 for added strength on the wing attachment
• Window frost spray
• Acrylic or airbrush paints
• (optional) Airbrush + Airbrush medium for acrylic paints
• Spray-on paint sealer (Satin or Flat)
First, either draw or print out a wing pattern to scale. I vectored a pattern based off Aphrikelle’s (Instagram.com/aphrikelle) Sprite Darter watercolor art inspired from World of Warcraft. When printing out patterns to scale, these will need to be printed out in “poster size” where one will need to assemble all the pieces together with tape.
For more detailed information on scaling a pattern to size when printing out, I wrote this tutorial here:
In this step, the wings will be split into smaller sections that will fit plastic face shields assembled together. Using some regular tracing or plain paper, trace out the sections of the wings that will fit within the sizes of the face shields. If you have larger rolls of plastic available, these sections can be split up into fewer, larger pieces.
Next, cut off the excess parts to the face shields. Most brand new face shields also include protective plastic coverings on both sides. Ensure these protective plastic pieces are not removed until after you have finished tracing the outlines of the sectioned off pieces of the wing. After tracing the outlines of the wing sections, cut the face shields, and remove the protective plastic film layers from both sides of the face shields.
Carefully lay the clear plastic pieces on the pattern template as a guide, and tape the pieces down with clear shipping tape.
On the clear plastic pieces, use contact cement glue to trace over the “spine” areas of the wing. While allowing the glue to dry (don’t wait too long over 20 minutes), cut 1/4″ width strips of the Worbla’s Black Art sheets and heat this up to shape with a heat gun. Carefully place the strips over the contact cement and the Worbla will set. There’s no need to coat the Worbla strips with contact cement as the thermoplastic has its own adhesive component when activated with heat. Continue until you complete the inner part of the wings.
Using some tracing or butcher paper, trace the outer section of the wing.
Next, trace the “base” of the wing as a separate piece.
Using scissors and hobby knives, cut the outline pattern. Do not cut the intricate inner details yet as pictured. When first tracing this outline it’s easier to place on EVA foam later while maintaining the proper shape of the wing.
Place the paper template on a 2mm thick EVA foam roll (high density recommended). The same paper pattern is used twice (mirrored), since we have 2 wings. Optional: do this process on another foam roll if you want a double-sided outer “frame” of the wings. I chose EVA foam for the outer parts of the wings for safety reasons as they are softer than worbla on pointed edges.
Using a hobby knife, carefully cut out the foam pieces.
Using contact cement glue, glue down the edges of the wing. While waiting for this to dry, glue the back side of each foam piece that is used for the wing outline, then stick the foam piece to the clear plastic.
The outer edge of the wing will look like this. The base part comes next.
For the “base” part of the wing, take the foam pieces that were cut earlier, and cut Worbla’s Black Art sheets large enough to “sandwich” the foam. Using a heat gun over the worbla surrounding the EVA foam, use a wooden clay tool to shape the edges. You can see what the sandwiched piece looks like. There are 4 of these “base” pieces that need to be done for extra strength in holding the wings together. Repeat this process for all 4 of these.
Recycling Worbla tips: As you cut the Worbla pieces, you can reuse excess Worbla scraps and re-roll into sheets for zero waste.
To reuse these sheets, gather your scraps and heat activate them with a heat gun. As the Worbla scraps soften, gently fold them over into a rectangular shape. Using a heavy duty pasta roller, the recycled Worbla pile can be pushed through the rollers at the thickest setting. Ensure that the Worbla is still warm and soft to the touch while rolling on the pasta roller. Repeat this process until the pasta roller is adjusted to the thinnest setting. Lay the finished rolled pieces on a flat surface, and reheat to reshape and flatten the newly formed sheet. You can proceed to use this rolled sheet like a fresh new sheet of Worbla!
Finalize the wing structure
Once you have completed the sandwich pieces of the “base” of the wing, use contact cement glue to glue the remaining edges of the wing. Let the contact cement dry after a few minutes. Reheat the under piece of the “base” of the wing to reactivate the worbla’s soft adhesive properties, then place the “base” of the wing worbla sandwich part over this area.
The wings will now look like this.
Priming the Wings for Painting
Using window frost spray, coat the translucent part of the wing on both sides. Masking the exposed worbla and foam parts with painter’s tape is not required. This is how the wings look like before (right) and after (left) spraying with frosted glass spray. This is a required step to prime the translucent plastic parts for painting.
Preparing the Wings to Wear
Cut 2 pieces of a PVC pipe with a PVC pipe cutter. Use the heat gun in a well ventilated area* to bend the PVC pipes to shape, and use the PVC pipe as a guide to mark where holes will be cut on the bottom of the wing base. Use a power drill to drill holes large enough for zip ties.
*Preferably outdoors, with a respirator. PVC fumes are very toxic when heated enough to shape.
Insert zip ties (2 per wing) through the holes. Wrap the zip ties around the cut and bent PVC pipe. At this rate, the PVC pipe is still slightly flexible for adjustment. It is highly recommended to use 2-part epoxy or E6000 glue to stabilize this PVC pipe + zip tie attachment. You can see how it looks like on a harness on the back.
For the harness, I wrote a detailed tutorial here:
Free pattern download here:
From the front, this is how the wing attachment looks like.
Painting the Wings
I mixed airbrush medium to thin out acrylic paints to use within my airbrush. I use a dual-action gravity feed airbrush and clean out my airbrush regularly after every use with an ultrasonic cleaner when switching out colors.
I started with the teal edges of the wing near the top, and worked my way towards the bottom, with the yellow parts airbrushed last. I then used color shift paints to brush over the exposed black worbla and foam spine parts.
When finished with the wings, I used a spray-on flat sealer.
The final wings!