There was a steampunk convention recently and I thought it would be fun for my wife, Lara, to go as a steampunk fairy. (I went as a radium prospector, complete with rock pick and Geiger counter). And since it was steampunk I thought “Why not have wings that actually flap?” They could be significantly bulky and still look cool (maybe cooler for being bulky).
So I got to work. My wife and I collaborated to come up with the design and shape of the wings, drawing inspiration from Victorian wrought iron. My dad lent me his welder and showed me how to use it to weld the wings together using wire I got from a dumpster. The smallest portable power source I could think of was a cordless electric drill (I could have rigged up some batteries and an electric motor, but why bother if someone had done the hard part already?) Also, it was free because I borrowed it from some friends.Using more borrowed equipment and some salvaged wood from an old desk left out with a FREE sign on it, I made a base for the wings and a box that holds the drill. I had to haul the desk home with my little red wagon because it would not fit in my car.
With help from my mechanical engineering brother, I figured out how to transmit the power from the drill to the wings to make them flap. I salvaged a brake line and handle from an old bicycle so Lara could control the drill and make the wings flap at different speeds.
After we arrived at the convention, I had to do some additional tweaking to keep the wings from spazzing out. The drill kept slipping around inside the wooden box and activating the trigger at the wrong times. I remedied this by jamming some steampunk catalogs into the box to hold it in place.
In the end, the whole process took several days, and it was a relief when it was finally finished. I hope you enjoy the results as much as I have. I might make a more manly version for myself in the future using the things I have learned to make it even better.
Maker: Lyon Owens