Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Small Angel Wings: Faux Feathers

Faux Feathers in Process

I've switched to using completely different materials and methods for making my faux feathers. For months now I've been experimenting with different means of achieving a compound curve in each feather, blacker black, and detailed texture so that the fake feathers will match the turkey feathers perfectly. I couldn't stand having such a disconnect between the real and fake feathers. For a while it seemed my only option was to make wings with only fake feathers which would mean a lot more hours of work on each piece.

BUT, I believe I've found the solution. I've switched from fabric to foam. It is a well known fact among wing makers online that good faux feathers are made by laminated layers of fabric with an adhesive. Usually these feathers are made with light weight fabrics and have some sort of shaft sandwiched between the layers. This works to produces great feathers, but it is very time consuming, somewhat costly, and there is always the problem of trying to get a true black.

I now use foam. I've found a way to mold the foam quickly so that I can have the feathers curve like the turkey quills. I've devised a means of adding texture quickly and inexpensively. I've also developed a means of stiffening the feathers so they hold the curve permanently after I've shaped them. They also take paint much better than fabric which means I can achieve a true deep black. The only thing that is not so simple is attaching shafts - I'm still working on this part but may have come up with a solution. As it is - structural shafts (as opposed to painted) are entirely unnecessary for wings that do not open or close.

That's all I can say for now. As far as I can tell, no one else is really doing this, so for now my method is a trade secret.


  1. Hi Dani! Amazing work you are doing with the foam. I have worked with it for years and the versatility of the stuff never fails to amaze. I've made faux feathers from it for wings and even stage millinery. A shaft can be added by folding the foam over and sewing a quarter (or smaller) inch seam and inserting wire. Unfold the foam and cut the feather shape. Voila, a shaft. This works best if you want the shaft in the center of the feather, but it may work on one side if you trim them.

    1. Neato! I hadn't really thought about stitching a sleeve directly into the foam. It might get tricky with my "S" curve shaft design but it's something to look into.

  2. hey Dani,
    you are going well! I see you made some progress with the faux feathers:) May i ask what kind of foam you use exactly? is it heavy? ; i am busy making a motorized wingsuit for a 5y old boy, and i try to keep it below the 3Kg, so i can use any good idea i come across :)

  3. I sent you an email about the Faux feathers you created for the Angel of Death costume before I found your blog. What materials did you use to create the feathers for the Angel of Death? I would love to use that in my Halloween display in the future. Thank you! Jeff

  4. Wow, sorry folks for being off the radar lately, and thanks for the comments.

    I'm using simple old craft foam, or fun foam for the feathers. There are a lot of wing makers out there who use the same material. I tried volara at one point since it's lighter weight but was disappointed with the texture.

    All previous work I've done with wings was laminated fabric, mostly poly dress lining and medium weight interfacing. I played around with alot of laminates, epoxies, liquid starch, spray starch, wallpaper glue...and settled on wood petrifier.