Costume Fairy Wings
Meet the East Bay woman making some of the world’s most sought-after costume wings.
by Bella Kotak
From the Victoria’s Secret fashion show runway to the world of cosplay conventions—and a Katy Perry ad along the way—Angela Jarman’s fairy wings have become legendary.
Name: Angela Jarman
City of residence: Richmond
Job: Maker of fairy wings
Jarman—whose first job was as a graphic artist—and her former husband ran a Halloween costume company in Vallejo, Bump in the Night Productions, where she initially sold her fairy wings. She also hosted children’s parties, for which she dressed as a fairy, for more than a decade.
A few years ago, a friend’s dog came in from a romp outdoors, and Jarman spotted two tiny insect wings on its fur, multifaceted and iridescent. “I thought, ‘Gosh—they could be fairy wings.’ ” The commercial fairy wings available at the time were usually fabric and glitter, but Jarman imagined something more insectlike, translucent with wispy edges, like what she saw in the David Bowie cult movie classic, Labyrinth. So, she set out to create them herself.
Tools of the Trade
Jarman draws out the wings in pencil before sending her designs off to be professionally water-jet cut from aluminum sheeting. Then, Jarman spends hours sanding the sharp edges—her least favorite task—and sends them away to be powder coated for a smooth, colored finish. The final steps include adding iridescent plastic film, made taut with a heat gun, and painting on intricate shadings with ink before hand cutting the signature lacelike edges of the wings.
Since starting on eBay in 2003, Jarman has sold on Etsy and now has a Shopify website. Her wings, priced from $100 to $600, often sell out within five minutes of being posted. (She sometimes sets the posting time for 6 a.m. so her international clients have a shot at nabbing a pair.) While Jarman can produce about 10 sets in a week, she has slowed down her production recently to focus on new—and flashier—design elements: She’s experimenting with increasingly ornate and layered wings, as well as affixing Swarovski crystals or velvet coating to the frames.
Besides Halloween and costume parties, major fairy-themed events take place in L.A. and in Oregon. Locally, Jarman wears her wings to San Francisco’s Edwardian Ball. “The big wings do get in the way,” she admits. “When the place gets packed, I have to take them off and take them to coat check.” fancyfairy.com.