Cardboard Duct Tape Fairy Wings

Things aren’t always as crisp in real life as they are in the parenting magazines, are they?  Mistakes and miscalculations are made.  And while most of them are fairly harmless, life doesn’t always look as perfect as it does in the pictures.  But you know what?  That’s OKAY.

Sometimes I find that the standards I set for myself are WAY higher than what anyone else expects.  Take, for example, the idea our daughter had recently to make some butterfly fairy wings.  “Can you help me make wings, mama?” she asked me.  And who can say no to that?  There are times when I say “Baby, I can’t DO that, I don’t know how.”  And our daughter, aware of her blatant challenge or not, will say, “you can do it, mama.  I KNOW you can.”

If I were to make my dream fairy wings, they would NOT be made from cardboard.  But cardboard is what we had on a rainy stay-at-home day when I didn’t feel like leaving the house, and that’s what we used.  And you know what?  She didn’t mind at all.

Do YOU need a set of on-the-whim fairy wings, like, STAT?   Well, I’ve got some some ninja crafting moves right here.  Just call me the MacGyver of crafty mamas….

Because of an anxiously, excitedly impatient kid, and without the luxury of being able to consult my trusty Pinterest pins before getting started, I just quickly cut out some butterfly shapes–one side each–from a small piece of cardboard I had.   Later, when I had a chance to look it up, all the pins I read said to make one big piece.  But like I said–I was ninja crafting.


While she colored the separate wing pieces, I was wondering to myself how the heck I would get these on her back.  I looked up a few pins, which–as I said–all had a single wing shape.  I only had my two hastily-cut-out shapes…but I was pretty confident I could make this work.

By the way, have you seen these no-mess paint stampers?  We found them at the craft store.  A super easy way to get the paints out without REALLY getting the paints out…


Oh wait.  She was done doodling and I hadn’t quite figured out how to attach these yet.  QUICK!  I went for my box o’ embellishments and came up with some sequins, which she spent a bit of time gluing on.  For a little more interest, we used our trusty rainbow ink stamper for a little more color to the wings.


Okay, finally my stalling had paid off, and I had a chance to think it through…Maybe I didn’t plan this out very well (or at all), and maybe I was using last-minute materials.  But what works best when you have nowhere else to turn?  I’ll tell you, my friends:  DUCT TAPE.  I made a “bridge” of sorts, connecting the two wings together.  Then I constructed a set of “backback straps” by folding a piece in thirds for the strap, and first: taping them on the top of the wing bridge.  I did it at a bit of an angle, so they’d fit around her shoulders pretty smoothly.


I held them up to our daughter, wrapped the straps around her arms, and taped them back down at the bottom seam at an angle as well.


I fastened them onto the “front” side for a little more support, and taped those down, too.


Now we had a sort of “backpack” set of wings!


Since we first made these wings, she’s worn them to the grocery store, on outings, exploring in the woods, visiting neighbors, and just hanging around the house.  And while they’re not SUPER sturdy, they’re holding up fairly well, actually!



So there you go.  Sometimes I tell myself we can’t do something, for a number of reasons:  we don’t have the right supplies, we’d have to go to the store, I’m pretty sure I can’t make it look exactly like what you’re imagining.  But, you know, sometimes all they want is something WAY simpler that what you have in mind.   Even if it doesn’t REALLY look like fairy wings, it’s close enough for her.  And all I did was grab some of the stuff around me and SIMPLIFY.  Don’t be afraid to mess up–if you make something out of love, it’s got a higher chance of survival than something that isn’t.

And sure, with some planning and some craft store trips, I could’ve made some cosplay-quality wingness to be adored…but you have to pick and choose your battles.  This was one I was willing to simplify on.  They have all sorts of decorative duct tape, just ripe for customizing.

But you know, now that I’m thinking of it, wouldn’t it be cool to do a STEAMPUNK set of wings?!?!  Myla keeps asking me where MY wings are…and this metallic-looking duct tape would look really cool painted to look like rivets and metal and such.  Hm.  I have an extra set of wings I cut as a backup…maybe I need to look into that….  🙂

So give it a try!  See if you can make some super easy, spur-of the moment, on-the-fly (har-har) wings, and let me see your kids (or you) exploring in ’em over on the Facebook page!

And on a side note, have you read our proposed Kickstarter project?  We REALLY want to make a book of our collaborative doodles!  We’re nearly HALFWAY THERE with several fun rewards for various pledges.  Every bit helps–a share, a like, or a re-post.  We appreciate it!

10 responses

  1. Love it! Amazing what you can do with gaffer tape (that’s what we’d call it in the UK!)…I remember taping the sole to my shoe once; wore them another 6 months after that!

    1. That definitely works! Yup, it’s amazing the things you can do with that tape!

  2. Excellent Job!!!

  3. Nice one, and yes, children will accept and be happy with far less than creative adult perfection/obsession will demand, as I found with my daughter 🙂 Love the idea of Steampunk wings as well.

  4. Oh how I wish you’d been my mommy!!! You know how when they’re younger & they get gifts & all they want to play with is the box they came in or the pots & pans in the kitchen cabinet? This is a 4-year-old version of that. Because you made them with your very own hands, with help from her, they are so much more special to her than if you’d made perfect wings. I look forward to your blog posts in my email every day when I open it. And some days, there it is, & I know I’m going to smile & laugh & clap my hands!!!

    On that book collaboration, I’ve yet to find anyone else to donate with me, so I’m so excited about donating enough to at least get my copy of the book when my Social Security check appears around the 3rd of April. Wootie woot!!!!!

    1. Thank you SO much! I think it helps with the spirit of inventiveness, too. Instead of looking for a pair of wings in a store, she will be the first to say, “let’s just MAKE some.” Anyway, I’m glad you like it! Thanks for the support!

  5. You are the Real Thing… Creative and unbound- full of the muse!

    1. Thank you! She’s full of it, too! The things she comes up with are pretty cool!

  6. Great project. Those wings turned out really nice.

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