This post is for me rather than all of you, I'm afraid!! Many of you have already seen this project, which was my first piece as Guest Designer for The Artistic Stamper in February of this year, and I was so thrilled with all your amazing comments and feedback.
However, when you post your pieces you can only put a sneak peek on your own blog and since I use this place as a sort of virtual scrapbook of what I've made and how I did it (hence the massively long posts the whole time!), I asked if it would be okay to post the full thing on Words and Pictures at some point in the future.
And this is that day... so please don't feel you have to comment all over again!! This is just so that I can get all my work "under one roof"...
I'd seen quite a few "specimen cabinet" projects on my travels, and when I decided to work with the amazing Insects and Butterflies plate that was sort of what I was thinking of trying.
But in the end, I couldn't bear to pin them down, and so I decided to try to find a way to let them fly free - why do we create these difficulties for ourselves?!?
It all started with a little floristry frame I bought in the Czech Republic. I got three of them at the time, and last time I used one - for the Semi-Controlled Mayhem of my Big Top Circus - it gave me headaches, so I knew the chances were it would go that way again!
I experimented with stamping the butterflies and dragonflies and colouring them in various ways, but it wasn't really taking off for me, so I decided to try it the other way up and create my colours first.
I did lots of wrinkle free distress technique with a mixture of Distress Stains in blues, greens and turquoises.
I also added Cosmic Shimmer sprays and Glimmer Mists both to the craft mat and onto the paper as I was drying it so that I could create lots of iridescence within the colours.
Then I got busy stamping... I used Archival inks, mainly in Cobalt, Olive and Library Green - either individually or blending them on the stamp...
...and occasionally I even zhuzhed it up a bit with some Aquamarine!
Then there was lots of fussy-cutting - absolutely NOT my favourite thing to do!
Some of the images are virtually symmetrical, so those I was planning to glue back to back and colour any edges that were still showing.
But others were too asymmetrical for that. I toyed with stamping on tissue and using the reverse, but in the end I decided to go for something more abstract.
I used my Viva metallic paints - one in Turquoise and one in Golden Green - to paint the backs of the asymmetrical insects. These are some of the most beautiful iridescent paints I've ever seen!
I used the lovely Calligraphic Mat stamped in either Library Green or Cobalt Archival to provide some decoration across the gleaming paint.
Then it was UTEE time! And this was where I had one of my accidental brainwaves.
As I was adding the UTEE - great for protecting vulnerable antennae, and adding beautiful glossiness, as well as having the effect of intensifying the colours - I realised that it made the wings mouldable.
So once everything was safely coated on both sides, I went through again, heating lightly and shaping the wings for flight.
Let's skip over the part where I tried all sorts of ways to string'em up - raffia, twine, gold wire - and go straight to the elegantly simple solution: ribbon.
Not only easier to thread onto than most of those others, but also they were all far more prepared to sit nice and perkily with just the folded ribbon holding them in flight... no need for knots beneath each insect, or glue.
Still fiddly - don't get me wrong! - to get them all threaded in the right order, the right way up, balancing the different insects and heights. But eventually I was pretty happy...
Cue lots of fun and swearing as I attempted to glue minute portions of glossy butterfly to a single twig within the frame at exactly the angle required.
And then a couple just balancing on the upright tower part at the centre... more angling, more bad words, and a bit of cheating by tucking bits of dragonfly into the weave of the twigs!
Thank you for sticking with me through one of my trademark lengthy posts. I've tried to give you some idea of the journey and some idea of the finished piece...
Of course the real joy lies in the movement as the butterflies and dragonflies flutter in the breeze. (Not when you're trying to take photographs of it in a biting wind, though - it was February at the time!)
Thank you for dropping in today... and indulging me in this little revisitation.
I hope whatever you're up to today brings you joy, and I hope to do some catching up in Craftyblogland over the next few days.
Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.