Ever since I started FantasyWire I have shared how to make wire fairies and encouraged others to learn by providing starter kits. People keep asking for more materials about how to make them, but making them is only half the challenge.
My day job is in product design and I believe that good art, as well as good products, flow from good design.
This page provides the basic outline of how to sculpt with wire, but we also have other resources to provide as many details as you need. These include:
Buy The Book
How To Videos
Things you should know before starting a wire fairy.
Health & Safety (Wear safety glasses and don’t give a starter kit to a child).
Making wire sculptures does pose some risks as the ends of the wire can be very sharp and dangerous.
Please read the health and Safety advice before starting, aways wear safety eye protection and we no not recommend giving starter kits to children.
The Rules of Copyright (Can you make a copy of a FantasyWire fairy?)
I get lots of emails informing me that someone or other has posted a picture of a wire fairy for sale which is just like mine. So if you are planning to make and sell wire fairies, where do you stand from a copyright point of view?
If you are making a wire fairy for yourself, to be displayed in your own home or as a gift for someone, I have no problems with you attempting to copy any of my fairy designs by either having a go on your own or by using a FantasyWire kit. i.e. You will not gain financially from the resulting copy of my work or from displaying it publicly.
Copyright protects “the expression of an idea”, not the idea itself. In plain English: the concept of a fairy made out wire is just an idea and if you design your own fairy pose(s), you are free to make that fairy using wire, using this FantasyWire technique and to sell them. Indeed, I encourage you to do so, or I would not be showing you how to make them. What you are NOT allowed to do is make direct copies of my wire fairies (my designs) and sell them. To do so would be copying my expression of that idea and therefore would be a breach of my copyright.
Similarly, this material has been provided to teach you how to design and make wire fairies. The material itself must not be copied, sold or used for any other commercial purpose.
Good Art flows from good design. I would estimate that by the time I start building a fairy figure, that I’ve spent as many hours designing it (in my head) as it will take to physically build it.
This section is mostly theoretical/academic but will furnish you with everything you need to consider to ensure you have a good design before you start.
• Can it be made out of wire?
• Where is it to be installed?
• 2D v 3D
• Emotion & Expression
• Visual Illusions
• External Forces
• Wing Design
• Design Tools
• The Invisible Panda
• Testing the design by prototyping
The skeleton is key to the success of your sculpture. It not only holds the sculpture up but its the skeleton’s pose that will tell the story you want your sculpture to tell.
A rule that I strongly suggest you live by is: “If the skeleton doesn’t tell the story, don’t add wire to it” Its absolutely critical that when you have the skeleton in a pose that you can see (in your mind’s eye) the emotions and story of the finished piece.
The skeleton also performs a very practical role in that it holds your sculpture up. Therefore you need to make sure that you build in any structural elements necessary to support the weight of the sculpture or any extensions to the sculpture. I.e. any objects that you figure may be holding or carrying.
This section walks you through:
• Making skeleton material.
• Putting the skeleton into a pose.
• Making and incorporating mounts and supports for installing your finished sculpture.
They are also one of the things that are so difficult to get the right size and shape to keep the proportions of your figure looking correct.
The hands and feet sections is a practical workshop on how to make hands and feet the correct size for your figure and how to attach them to the skeleton.
This section walks you through:
• How to design your hands and feet to match the scale of your figure
• How to make hands and feet out of wire.
• How to attach the hands and feet to the skeleton
Once you have a skeleton in a pose with hand and feet attached, the next thing to do is build out the higher volume areas of the figure (e.g. the rib cage, buttocks and thighs). The way to do this is by what I have called a low-density cage.
The whole build has to be a managed wire density approach path to the finished figure. If you
add lots of wire at the start, it will make it difficult to pass wire through the figure later, so you must start off by building a sort of cage/framework in the shape of the figure to add higher volume to later.
This section shows you how to form the low-density cage and the start of fleshing out the
It’s worth spending some time explaining how to prepare and apply the wire. The most common mistake that people make is to simply wind the wire around and around the skeleton in a bid to flesh out the figure as fast as possible. Doing it that way actually causes problems with managing proportions, consumes far more wire than is needed and ironically takes much longer.
This section teaches you about:
• Making up multiple strands to apply wire up to 8 times faster.
• Routing the wire around the figure to create flowing lines and manage proportions.
• How to create concave and convex shapes when forming the figure.
I’ve never made a fairy without getting to a point where I thought it was all going wrong. I call this the panic stage. If you reach that point, I can’t say for certain that it is not due to a mistake, but it may not be.
There’s a metaphor I use called “the reverse Ice lolly” to explain how the proportions of a part made figure can play tricks with your mind and faith in the process can lead you through to a successfully finished figure.
This section explains:
• The principles of managing proportions and explains “the reverse ice lolly” effect
• The use of “Hard Points”, areas you need to focus on to give the appearance of a skeleton feature that doesn’t exist.
Once you have the basic low-density cage which resembles the approximate shore of the figure, you move into the general build of adding the majority of the wire. It’s important, that you don’t add too much wire too early or you may struggle to add wire later as it’s difficult to pass wire through a dense figure.
Over the whole build, you need to manage a wire density approach path, so the figure becomes dense and difficult to pass the wire through, just as the figure reaches its final shape.
This section cover:
• Adding wire in increasing volumes at higher tensions through the build.
• Shaping the figure and managing proportions as the build progresses.
• Advise on how to shape and manage particular features
• Adding muscle definition to the figure
Once you have the main figure built up to the shape you want, you need to cover the whole figure with a thin layer of multi-strand wire to smooth out the lines of the figure and provide an even texture across the whole surface. Then to transform an androgynous figure into a recognisable female form, you need to add boobs (which so many people seem to struggle with), add collar bones, a nose and some facial shaping.
This section covers:
• Finishing the figure and ensuring the texture is even across the whole figure.
• Adding the boobs
• Adding neck and facial details
A fairy wouldn’t be a fairy without wings. The shape of the wings can dramatically affect mood and emotion
conveyed by the piece. In terms of making wings, its a fairly straightforward process of making some wings
frames and attaching them to the fairy.
This section covers:
• How to make wing frame material
• How to make all four wing frames from one length of wing frame material
• How to attach mesh to the frames to create a sort of membrane
• How to add detail to the wings
• How to attach the wings to the fairy.
I have a few rules for applying hair to a wire fairy: Namely, the hair should be away from the body. This can be achieved
by adopting pose where the hair falls clear of the body or using apparent wind to list the hair away from the body or by making the hair look as if its follow the trail of the fairies movement, again to keep the hair away from the body.
If you allow the hair to hang down over the fairies body, its will result in the viewer not being able to tell where the hair ends and fairy beings and in essence may tend to look (from a distance) like a big lump of tangled wire.
This section walks you through:
• How to build a frame to hold the hair in shape away from the body.
• How to add the volume of hair to the scalp
• How to dress the hair and create dramatic result showing emotion and movement.