The Butterfly Mobile

IMG_20130930_210100You can tell things aren’t great because it’s 6 AM and I’m updating my blog. Usually the only thing I do if I am awake at 6 AM is bitch that it’s 6 AM and I’m awake. Things have been a little crazy and recent days have been even crazier and the last 36 hours the craziest yet. Things will calm down soon, though, because I am removing a huge responsibility from my plate. It really sucks when multiple projects you believed in can’t reach their potential because of factors outside of your control. It’s one of those things I’ll tell you about some time over a manhattan and french fries (I’m classy like that).

Anyway, because of the general suckiness of the state of my affairs lately I thought I’d talk about The Butterfly Mobile! Doesn’t “The Butterfly Mobile” sounds fun and whimsical? Like a butterfly garden on wheels that stops at your house. I imagine the driver wears old-timey clothes and talks in Dr. Seuss-like rhymes with a cockney accent. Sadly, it’s not (hmm…now that I’ll have some time on my hands….), but I did make this mobile out of velum, some doll house parts and fishing line.

This was a project for school that somehow I got full points on even though I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet the objective. The project was to make polyhedra shapes into a cohesive 3D design that was either narrative, illustrative or about texture and/or shape. I made butterflies. Out of paper. And wood. So yeah. But, hey, I got an A!

Anyway, a couple of my teachers had each independently said I needed to find a way to blend my photography and my design work. That’s what sort of kicked off the idea. Each pair of wings is created out of one of my nature photographs printed on velum (for those who don’t know, velum is a semi-transparent cardstock-like paper). Let me give you this tip about printing on velum, since it’s kind of plasticy, it doesn’t really absorb ink like regular paper. So when you are printing, put the settings to something like “draft quality” or “fast quality”, because you want the least amount of ink possible. After the pages were printed, I used vintage illustrations of butterflies and moths as a template and cut them out with an exacto knife.

IMG_20130930_104247That was one hurdle, but then I had to find something to attach their little disembodied wings to. I tried rolled paper, but it wouldn’t stay rolled. I took a trip to the hobby store and found dollhouse moulding. Cut it, sanded it, and painted it. Found the craft glue and the butterflies had bodies! But how to get them to fly?

I thought this would be the easiest part- just tie some fishing line and we’re done. However, when I tried that my butterflies all looked like they were attempting to walk upright or swinging on the gallows. It didn’t help that it was 9 PM and this project was due at 10 AM the next morning. So I looked around for what I had on hand and found some jewelry wire. It’s thin and flexible and was perfect. I just wrapped it around the top of the body and the mid section. This way I could bend the wire and get the butterfly to hang exactly how I wanted. Another little drop of craft glue to make sure the fishing line didn’t come unknotted and we had lift-off. No rhymes or old-timey clothes (but I do have an accent, but it’s a Chicago accent and only comes out with I’m really, really mad), but the butterfly mobile was done. I’m really happy with how it turned out.

Until next week…eh…week after…um…let’s just say I’ll update again before 2014. Probably. Maybe.

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