a butterfly inspired by Alkema
First, tear newspaper into 16 somewhat-equal pieces. Mix up some wallpaper paste (or flour and water) and protect a tray or board with plastic wrap. With your hands, coat a paper piece with paste, both sides; and then wipe off any gloppy extra. Do the same with a second piece, and then smooth the two pieces together. Lay the doubled piece on the tray. Place a curved end of a thin coated craft wire onto the center of the paper piece. Make another doubled-up pasted paper piece, and smooth it on top, sandwiching an inch or two of the wire end in between. Repeat to make four layered/sandwiched paper pieces with wires sticking out of them.
After the paper is totally dry (I just left it overnight, but a couple of hours outside in the sun would have been plenty), peel the pieces from the plastic. Trim each paper piece into the shape of a petal/wing-half, being careful not to cut the wire.
Paint these wing sections with acrylic craft paint, and let it dry.
I didn't have a long nail handy, so I used a piece of a pipe cleaner instead. Wrap the wing sections to the pipe cleaner (or nail, if you want to follow Alkema more closely), wrapping two of the wire ends near one end of the body—those will be used as antennae.
Here's the completed assemblage, with all four wing sections and trimmed wires.
To make it "fly," wrap the end of a length of sturdier wire (I used 22 gauge steel wire from the local hardware store) around the butterfly's body. Wrap the other end around a rock or a wood block, or just leave it straight so you can insert it into a bouquet or a gift bag or a vase full of acorns, as needed.
This was good! But: while I was waiting for the wallpaper pasted paper to dry, I decided to hedge my bets, and made two other butterflies using slightly different methods (but all with just wire and papier mache). Are they better? Worse? Just different? You'll find out when I share them with you next week.
Happy fourth of July weekend, my little fireworks!
I'm Debbie Way, an artist and writer who enjoys making things.