Monday, August 02, 2010

Upcycled Butterfly Decoration Tutorial

Tissue Butterfly
repurposed gift tissue, bread twist ties, acrylic paint, scrap felt, wire, cotton tie
40/100 in 100 days creative challenge

Here's the whole of the butterfly I made, inspired by the poof. It took me a whole week to make a new one, photograph the process, edit the photos, and find time to post. But here it is!! Woo Hoo! Tissue Paper Butterfly tutorial. Except I decided to shake things up with the second butterfly, and it's made out of..... plastic bags! That's right, reduce, reuse, recycle. Upcycle, baby. Repurpose it. That's how we roll in these parts.
Plastic Bag Butterfly
repurposed plastic bag, twisty bread ties, scrap felt, acrylic paint, wire, yarn
40/100 in 100 days creative challenge

It's already tried to escape the house once.
Here are the supplies.

  • Your wing material, in this case, plastic gift bag. Also tissue paper could work, or news paper. I was thinking tulle might work, or even regular fabric for a different effect. Why does it always have to be tissue? It doesn't.
  • scissors
  • twisty ties to make legs, antennae and to keep the paper cinched (this could be floral wire, or yarn, or anything that ties/twists.
  • acrylic paint to make the butterfly designs. This could be tempera or watercolor or vegetable dyes, or food coloring.
  • scrap felt for the butterfly body. You could use regular fabric or construction paper or yarn, too, I'd think.
  • paint brush
  • paint palette. Or anything to hold your paint while you're using it.
  • glue, thread, or yarn to attach the body to the butterfly

Cut the plastic bag/tissue into two rectangles, one larger for the main wings and one smaller for the lower wings.Trim the rectangles so there are no sharp edges. You can be creative here and make them different shapes. When I did this butterfly, I suddenly realized I should have left part of the bag handles on, to make a tail on the lower wings. Then I could have made this chartreuse plastic bag into a Luna Moth! Oh well. Next time I encounter a chartreuse gift bag.

Over lap the two pieces of plastic just a bit.Begin accordion folding your two pieces, starting at one side of the laid-out plastic.
Keep folding all the way down. When you get to the second piece, hold the two together so they are folded at the same time.
When the butterfly is folded, cinch it in the center with a bread tie. Make sure it is symmetrical on either side, since that is how you form the wings.

Add two more bread ties and twist them around until they look like legs. You might have to mess with them to get them in the right position.Before you unfold the accordion pleats, start painting the edges. Paint all the cut edges and also paint the pleated edges. Brush the paint on lightly, using a dry brush.

I thought this might be nice if you could get the paint to bleed into the paper, perhaps using food coloring or watercolor on a soft paper, like coffee filters. My materials didn't bleed, but I think it would make a good effect.

When you unfold it, the paint on the pleats will give the appearance of veins and colored lines. You may have to touch up the paint when it is unfolded, particularly on the edges that were hiding within the pleats.Pull apart the pleats and spread out the wings. Fluff them up. I accidentally made this butterfly two layers, so it might be fluffier than a one layer butterfly. The original plastic bag would have made two different butterflies of this size (using the front and back for two sets of top and bottom wings) , or one double size huge butterfly (using the front and back each for one top set of wings and one bottom set of wings)

Tip here: make sure you do unfold and fluff before the paint dries. If you let the paint dry, the pleats will stick together. Particularly if you are using more delicate tissue, this will make the wings tear when you pull them apart.
The body: This could be done many ways. It might be cute to actually make a tiny stuffed animal insect body. You could stitch it right onto the leg wires. Or you could make it out of construction paper. Here, I cut an insect shape out of felt.
I also poked two little holes into the head. I tied the insect body on with a long wire and poked the end of the wires through the holes to make antennae. I tried finishing this butterfly two ways. One way, I cut another smaller piece of felt out and glued it on top of the wires/felt construction. That looked really good, but I used the wrong glue or rushed, and it did not stick. It could easily be stitched down.
Here's the butterfly with glued felt. In the end, when the top felt fell off of this one, I actually wrapped the felt with yarn and tied it off underneath to make a hanging string. But I like the way this one looks, so this is the one I am presenting. Anyone wanting to try this could easily get better glue than I had.

So there is my Butterfly Tutorial.

If anyone decides to make this out of other materials, I'd love to see the results. I imagine you could make little ones out of tulle and fabric and decorate with sequins and beads. Or do a newspaper project with the kids. Or coffee filters. This can be any level of craft, from permanent clothing decoration (I wouldn't use bread ties for that) to a fun project wit the kids.


Lis said...

I will have to do this with my daughter! Wonderful tutorial and who doesn't need a few more butterflies to brighten their world?

xo Lis (coming over from CED)

mayaluna said...

These are beautiful!

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