Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Art: Working with real butterfly wings

First things first. I assure you I'm not a butterfly killer! With the exception of the Monarch most adult butterflies only live a week or two. There are butterfly farms, and as far as I know they don't hook them up to a plow or anything and just wait for a natural death before collecting them. I find the ka-put insects in my yard, the park and even parking lots where I've recieved an odd glance or two as I carefully pick them up. I don't limit myself to butterflies and have collected deceased moths, cicadas and even hornet wings for my art!

Butterfly wings are very delicate. They are covered with thousands of colorful scales that are so tiny it is almost powder like. With a very light touch, using a paint brush I coat both sides with a gel medium. I let each coat dry then add another coat. This makes them a little easier to handle. Since I am using them in collages, usually with a paper image on top of part of it, I cut away some of the thicker veins that wouldn't be seen anyway and would cause a ridge in my image.

In collage art, after arranging all the images that you have decided on, you have to take it all apart again before glueing everything down in the order it needs to be. The wings are still very fragile, sometimes I will use tweezers. Even once I have glued the wings in place, numerous times I go back and add more gel medium around the edges. If there is an air pocket I will carefully make a tiny slice with a razor blade and fill it with more gel medium.

Once an entire collage is finished I coat each one with about four coats of decoupage finish. If a collage has insect wings, I put this finish on thicker on the wings.

My intention is to perserve a beautiful part of nature in art.


Lenox Knits said...

Those are lovely. Thanks for the glimpse into your creative process.

Magatha-May said...

These are beautiful. My favourite is the second image. I love the red and green combination.

Anonymous said...

CAthy is one very talented Lady Artist/Guitarist

Together We Save said...

I love butterflies. These pictures are great.

K. Nice said...

These are fabulous - thank you for sharing them.

laurak/ForestWalkArt :) said...

wonderful!! love your art! i too work with butterfly & dragonfly wings, along with pressed flowers. my canvas is usually a bone...deer jawbones & skulls. Thank you! i'll be back!! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy, I am a watermedia/collage artist. The project I am working on is an assemblage using 4 old boxes/molds I got when an a local tool works went out of business.I would like to use the blue morpho didius wings, which I can find on line and have much significance tot he content of the piece. Until I found your blog I could find no info on actually working with he wings You have been very helpful.What do you glue the wings to the paper with?
Any other suggestions are appreciated.
Thank you!
Windy Gale