How to Make Translucent Dragonfly Wings
Sometimes a project takes on a life of its own and turns out way more gorgeous than expected, like these translucent dragonfly wings.
Just look at those colors. Aren’t they stunning? I love how the light filters through them and casts jewel-like reflections on the board.
A rusty nail never looked more beautiful, in my humble opinion 😉 And if you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know I’m on a mission to repurpose all those rusty nails we’ve collected over the years. They’re great for makings so many different things, like this reindeer family or a fairy potting bench. But the DIY dragonfly is, without a doubt, my favorite “nail repurpose” so far. And they’re really easy to make too. If you’re not a fan of dragonflies, then you can use the same technique to make a few butterflies instead. And if rusty nails aren’t your thing, you can make a large dragonfly using wooden beads.
Okay, before we get to the tutorial, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. And don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll never miss a post!
What you need
- Rusty nails
- Clear DC fix or Sticky Transparent sheets (affiliate link below)
- Shrinkwrap (also known as cling film)
- 15 or 18-gauge jewelry wire (optional)
- Dragonfly or butterfly wings template
- Super Glue
- Alcohol ink in various colors
If you can’t find alcohol ink in a craft store nearby, you can make your own using this stunning tutorial.
How to make translucent dragonfly wings
This is one of those super easy crafts that wow every time. Print the free dragonfly wing template onto Clear DC fix or sticky transparency sheets. Depending on the length of your rusty nail, you may need to resize the wings. The nail I used for the dragonfly is huge. Place the wings on your work surface and put a piece of shrink wrap over the template.
Randomly drop alcohol ink all over the shrinkwrap. I used green, yellow, and blue for the dragon wings. Alcohol ink has this wonderful ability to flow together to form new interesting colors, and they’re all gorgeously translucent. Play around and experiment.
If you’re not happy with the colors, simply remove the shrink wrap and put a new one on top of the template, and start again. Just make sure that all the spots are covered.
Crinkle the shrink wrap up a little, as shown in the picture above. Check that all the spots are covered before sliding the template out from under the wrap and removing the protective backing. Stick the template down on top of the alcohol-inked shrinkwrap.
Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut the dragonfly wings out.
Sooooooooooo beautiful, right?!!! Okay, so that’s it. The translucent dragonfly wings are done 😀 Told you it’s easy. Now for the body.
How to make the dragonfly body
RightyO, let’s give those gorgeous dragonfly wings a body to rest on. Cut three pieces of jewelry wire and wrap them around the rusty nail close to the top. Add a small drop of super glue to hold them in place.
Once the legs are done, glue the DIY Dragonfly wings onto the wire legs with more superglue.
Beautiful translucent dragonfly wings.
I used a few of the shorter nails to make some butterflies too.
This beauty combines red, yellow, and purple alcohol ink.
And this one has drops of purple and blue.
My Mom made this gorgeous multi-colored one. She was hesitant at first to make one. She had a stroke a few years back and lost all faith in her crafting abilities. I think it’s stunning and my personal favorite for so many reasons. (I love you, Mommy, you’re my hero).
What do you think? Is it something you would make
If you like the idea of making translucent dragonfly wings and repurposing a rusty nail, don’t forget to pin it for later.
And if butterflies are more your style, then this pin is for you 😉
Oh, and if you’re looking for some of the things we used, we’ve got you covered. Disclosure: Clicking on the links below means we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry, it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us come up with more amazing craft ideas to share with you 😉
Or if you prefer to buy rather than DIY
And as always, wishing you a wonderful, crafty week filled with lots of love. Thank you for popping in for a visit.
58 thoughts on “How to Make Translucent Dragonfly Wings”
I love your site! I’m an artist and I’m always looking for ways to make things out of the apartment full of stuff I have. I’m making the dragon flies when I get home from rehab. I’ve also been thinking of making other animals and insects by building layers cut from used cardboard boxes. Any tip and suggestions would be welcome. Thank you so much for sharing.
I’m so happy to hear that, Donna. Please share your creations when you’re done. I would love to see how they turn out. WRT your question about creating creatures from cardboard, I haven’t tried that, but I’ve put it on my to-do list to play around with. You can mush the cardboard up with water and turn it into a paper mache pulp or create a cardboard skeleton and mod podge paper strips on. We did something similar when we made this cardboard vase – https://acraftymix.com/upcycled-cardboard-vase-charcoal-ash-texture/
Wow these are so pretty and what a great way to upcycle rusty old nails. Fantastic template too, I can’t wait to give these a go and finally use all my alcohol inks, teehee. Thanks so much for for this great tutorial and generously sharing the template too. Lee 🙂
You’re so welcome, Lee. Let me know how it goes, or tag us if you share it on FB or IG.
Muy hermosos. Muchísimas gracias por compartir. Felicidades. Bendiciones para ti y tu madre.
Muchas gracias, Megui. I’ll send your love to my Mom too. She’ll be so impressed.
So stunning. I love all l of them, the one your mother made is a treasure. I love how u acknowledged her in the tutorial.
Thanks so much, Ida. My mom is one very special lady and I was so proud of her when she made her butterfly. Before her stroke, she used to always be busy making something but she lost her confidence. It was so lovely seeing her old creative spirit coming back.
Does the ink need to dry first, before the final step?
Yes, it does but fortunately alcohol ink dries in seconds.
shrinkwrap and clingwrap are two totally different products….I’m confused as to which you are using…thank you
Eeeeek, here in South Africa we call it Cling Film. It’s the thin plastic stuff you wrap around food that keeps it fresh and it kinda sticks to itself. Hope that helps
Thank you for sharing this gorgeous and easy tutorial. I can’t wait to have dragonflies and butterflies all over my house and gift them to friends.
So happy you enjoyed the tutorial, Regina. Hope you have loads of fun making those dragon and butterflies
I have been searching for years for a site like this. These wings are beautiful and I am so excited to make them. Thank you for sharing your idea
You’re welcome Tere, so happy you found us. Have fun making yours.
Excited to try this! I’ve got some nails I saved from redoing flooring in my daughter’s 1900 home.
So happy to hear that Tammy. Have fun playing around.
Dragonflys are one of my most favorite things they are magical. Thank you for showing us this beautiful idea. I never have done anything like this but I can’t wait to try. I am now a loyal follower.
You are so welcome Michele. I think they’re magical too. Such a pity that we’re seeing them less and less in our neck of the woods. I don’t know if the area has become to built-up or if something else is wrong, but I hope they come back soon ❣
This sounds like so much fun! Thank you for your wonderful directions and great pictures!!! You have gotten me all excited to try this.. SO I am confused about one thing tho. You peel the backing off and then lay on the ink. When you lift it up the project is finished with the sticky side still exposed? Or does the ink make it no longer sticky?
Well hello Martin, so happy you like the tutorial. When you remove the backing you’re sticking it down on top of the alcohol inked cling film. Hope that helps, but just shout if it’s still unclear.
Your dragonfly wings are superb. I have made a realistic metal dragonfly body and need a template like in your instructions; however, I need the total width of the wingspan to be 36″. Where can I get this? I would greatly appreciate your help and wii send you photos of my dragonfly sculpture when completed. Thank you.
I would love to see your finished dragonfly, Thomas. It sounds so impressive. To enlarge the wings at home, you can use an online tool like blockposter. Here’s a video tutorial on resizing images in blockposter that will show you how easy it is to do – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4hKAjR1kpo. The resized image can then be printed on standard paper and taped together. Another option is to have it done at a print shop. Most of them offer a resizing service. Hope that helps.
Oh this is just stunning, what a fantastic idea to have them around the garden! They look like the real thing! Beautiful!
Thanks so much Katrin. For something that’s so easy to make they really are gorgeous and I still love seeing the light spill through those wings
So pretty! Fantastic tutorial!
Thanks so much, Audra. Glad you enjoyed it
Goodness gracious, Michelle, these are absolutely beautiful! And like all your amazing creative ideas, they look so much harder to make than they actually are. I could see these gorgeous dragonflies hanging from a tree branch in a window!
That would look sooooo pretty when the sun catches it Marie
The dragon fly and as my kids called them) the flutter-bys are gorgeous.
I bet you could cut the shape out of plastic water/soda bottles. Would you still be able to use the inks on plastic?? Then you could mount them on long wire and place in a flower pot. Maybe glue an earring back on and place on the screen door so the dogs know when the screen is closed.
Just a thought!!
Putting the alcohol inks in plastic bottles will totally work Cathy and it would make them really strong too. If you still want to use the cling film for that fine membrane effect, them you could glue it onto the bottle with clear glue or mod podge. Great idea
You’re most welcome
These are so clever and gorgeous. They would look great dotted around the garden and in pots. I love them
Thanks so much, Claire. They do add the most amazing pops of color when the sun catches them
Oh, my hat Michelle!! Your Dragonfly and Butterflies are just stunning!! Such a fabulous idea and love the idea of using a nail for their bodies. You are one clever lil chicken!
😀 😀 😀 Thanks Sam
These are absolutely beautiful!!!
Thank you 😀
This is an amazing project! I sent the link to my artist relatives.
Thanks so much Linda 😀
Michelle, your art is absolutely stunning. You take crafts and DIY to a higher level and I’m always, always inspired. Also, I read your comment on my site. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. I know how hard this must be and I’ve been thinking of you and your mom…keeping you both in my prayers…Hugs my friend.
Thank you for your kind words, Kim. My Mom is a tough, beautiful lady and we’re just taking each day at a time and making the most of them.
Me again, I am doing a project at the moment that this technique would be perfect for but it is an outdoor project. Any recommendations on how to make these to last outside in the weather, many sun?
Mmmmm interesting question Anita. The sun does make the wings curl up, but I would try painting on a thin layer of clear gloss varnish or resin.
Wow! This is amazing and beautiful!
Thanks so much Sherry
Absolutely stunning, Michelle! very impressive and I think even I could do it. Thanks so much for sharing, my friend.
You’re most welcome Meegan 😀
Michelle, I love your crafts, but this is my favorite. I also have some alcohol ink and I love working with it. thank you for this project.
You’re most welcome Deana. This is another one that your grandbabies will love doing with you
These dragonflies and butterflies are absolutely beautiful!
Another pin-worthy DIY project!
Awwww Robin, thank you so much
Michelle I love this beautiful project! My favorite part is the rusty nail!!
And I bet you have a whole bunch of them at home too
Wow, Michelle these are stunning. I have honestly never seen this before, but I will be having a go. So watch this space ? pinned
😀 I’ll be watching my friend. I bet you’ll take them to a whole new level