As promised on Friday, I made a couple of butterfly variations of the project found in Alkema's Scrap Magic. Here's one of them. It's similar to the first in that you make four wing sections separately, out of papier mache and wire, and put them all together at the end. But here, instead of using scissors to trim the wing pieces at the end, you start by bending wire into the wing pieces.
To make this butterfly, start by making four roughly-equal sized loops of wire, as shown. I used a fairly sturdy (but still easy to bend) 22-gauge steel wire from the hardware store.
Bend the wing sections into more realistic butterfly-wing shapes, if you like.
Prepare wallpaper paste or a flour and water solution, and tear up some strips and bits of newspaper. Working over a protected surface (plastic wrap or wax paper), dip strips into the paste, smooth the strips between your fingers, and wrap them tautly around the wire loops. Aim for complete coverage of the wire and the inside of the loop. Prop up the wing sections so both sides can dry evenly.
Here's what they look like dry and ready for the next step.
When everything is dry, paint both sides of the papier mache sections with acrylic or tempera paint. If you don't want the newsprint to show through, I recommend painting the sections white before adding the final coat or two. I liked the look of it showing, though — I think it looks more organic and natural.
Pair up the wing sections and twist each pair together, close to where the wire meets the paper.
Match up the two halves of the butterfly, wire-to-wire, and twist those wires together. Trim one end of this twisted wire, and leave the other end's excess to act as antennae.
Wrap a new piece of wire around the body, to both add bulk and to act as a "stem" for the butterfly.
This method produces a sturdier finished item, but it's definitely more labor-intensive. Wrapping the open wire loops with strips of paper can take some getting used to. But, again, it ends up being a more substantial object, less delicate than Alkema's book's version. Easier to paint, too.
I'll share the third butterfly later this week!
I'm Debbie Way, an artist and writer who enjoys making things.