Last Minute EL Wire Navi Wings

Trish with her EL Wire wings

Background

Some friends of mine, Jay and Trish, stayed with us for Dragon*Con. Trish had a really great idea for a costume that she and her husband Jay had already been working on. She’s a really avid Legend of Zelda fan and came up with the idea of being Navi from the most recent iterations of the game.

Navi is a little fairy that guides the main character, Link, through his adventure and is known mostly for being annoying to gamers. The character is, as far as I’ve seen, usually just a glowing orb with wings. So the costume for the most part was simple: blue shirt, white tootoo, white wig, and some wings. The wings are probably the most complicated part but still relatively easy, some coat hangers and white stockings would suffice. Jay, however, wanted to kick it up a notch and make them glow.

When they arrived at my apartment they had the costume pretty much complete, the wings just weren’t very sturdy. So we proceeded to strengthen the wings and add EL wire to make them glow – starting at about 8 PM the night before the con.

Goal

Strengthen existing wing structure and add EL wire for glow effect.

Materials

  • 2 Pair of White Stockings
  • 6 Metal Coat Hangers
  • 1 Roll of Floral Wire (color doesn’t matter, we used green)
  • 2 Sets of EL Wire (color doesn’t matter, we used blue)
  • 2 Sets of EL Wire Battery Packs
  • Clear Scotch Tape
  • Wire Cutters (that can handle cutting metal coat hangers)
  • White Terry Cloth Rag
  • Self Adhesive Velcro Squares
  • Elastic Ribbon
  • Needle and Thread (emergency/travel sewing kit would due – that’s what I used)

Implementation

Completed wings, EL wire is off in this image

The Frame

This had already been assembled by Jay and Trish, so all we did from here was strengthen it with Floral Wire. I’ll give a quick synopsis of the frame assembly though:

The wing is comprised of 4 segments, two large upper wings and two smaller (50%) lower wings – picture dragon fly wings. The two small segments were built of a single coat hanger each, bent out straight and then looped into an ellipse like shape with the two ends making a point where they connect. The large segments were built of two hangers each, both bent out straight, coupled together with floral wire to make one longer wire, then looped in the same fashion as the small wings.

The next step is to connect the points (ends) of all four segments into the shape pictured to the right. The easiest way we found to do this is to first pair off one short with one long wing straight across and bind them together with the floral wire. This is done by overlapping the ends of each loop and then winding the wire around where it overlaps to form a tight connection. Repeat this for the other set of long and short wing segments and you’ll have two “blades”. Now overlay the two “blades” in an X shape and use the floral wire to wrap the middle area where they connect to form a tight bond.

glowing EL wire

The Glow

To make the wings glow, Jay bought some EL Wire (Electroluminescent Wire). It’s very flexible, runs relatively cool, and can operate off AA batteries. This makes it great for adding some flare to a costume.

He found that one strip from RadioShack wasn’t quite enough to wrap around all the wings so we hunted down another set, which turned out to be quite an adventure in it’s own right. Once we had two sets he and I carefully attached the wire to the wire frame, starting at the center, powered side first, using clear scotch tape – we wrapped tape every inch or so. We found that one strand would cover one large/small wing pair.

EL wire power pack

Battery Pouch

Once the frame was wrapped with EL wire we were left with the two battery packs at the center of the structure, just flapping around. We needed some way to secure them to the structure, but it needed to be hidden and the packs able to be taken out for battery replacement. I decided to make a little bag/pouch.

Trish had a white terry cloth so I set the two battery packs side by side in the middle of the cloth and then folded the cloth over so it was basically folded in half, batteries in the middle. With the batteries there as a guide to how wide the pouch had to be, I hand stitched up each side of the cloth as close to the batteries as I could get. I did this all the way up from the fold in the cloth to the other side forming the basic pouch. Then I took some scissors and trimmed up the excess cloth on either side of the stitch and the pouch was done.

The pouch was deep enough that opening could be folded over on itself to seal it up. We used some self-adhesive velcro squares to keep the flap closed while it’s worn. Then, using more floral wire, the pouch was attached to the frame. I did this by pushing the wire through the cloth in a couple of places on one side, kind of like you’d sew with thread, then wrapping the wire around the center binding.

Finish Work

To finish it off we measured out two loops of the elastic ribbon to form shoulder straps and attached them to the frame using more wraps of floral wire around the center joint. Then slid each stocking over a loop and tied the ends together in the center using as nice of a knot as possible, looks wise.

After about three hours and a couple trips across the street to Target and we had working Navi wings.

cecil_tailFall asleep while we’re making stuff, and you wake up with a tail.

One thought on “Last Minute EL Wire Navi Wings

  1. They lasted the entire con 4 whole days with no problems they hit at least 500 people, walls, doors, and poles with no damage:-)

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