Mother's Day Craft Project
Butterfly Mobile Craft Project
Most sculpture in the round is fixed to a base, and it doesn't move, but American artist Alexander Calder changed that when he invented the mobile in the early 1930s. While his mobiles were usually hung in an open space, sometimes he created standing mobiles. The butterfly mobile described here mounts on a base, too. It requires just a few materials that most everyone has around the house, and it will make a great Mother's Day gift!
You Will Need:
- Scratch paper
- Rice paper or other absorbent paper
- Lightweight cardboard
- Thin, wire coat hanger
- Block of wood
- Pipe cleaner
- Wax paper
- Watercolors or acrylics
- Floral tape
- White glue
- Paint brush
- Water pan
- Staple gun
You can use your imagination to create a fantasy butterfly, as we did, or study photos of butterflies to learn how to make more realistic insects. Butterflies occur in a variety of shapes and colors, and their wings have beautiful markings. One thing they have in common, however, is the symmetry of their wings. That is, the size and shape of one side or half matches the other.
The easiest way to make sure that your butterfly will be symmetrical is to draw one-half of the insect on a folded piece of paper, with the body touching the fold. Keeping the paper closed, cut out the wings. Trace this shape on cardboard, and cut it out.
Our fantasy butterfly was made by first painting a wet-in-wet watercolor. Before starting, protect the table with a layer of newspapers, and place a sheet of wax paper on top. Put a piece of rice paper on top of the wax paper, and soak it with water. Paint the paper, letting the colors flow into each other. Be sure to use lots of paint, because watercolor tends to dry lighter than it appears as you work.
When the paper is dry, turn it face down, and trace the cardboard butterfly. Now lay the pattern on another area, trace it again, and add a margin of at least 1/2" all the way around the shape. Clip the margin at 1/2" intervals up to the traced shape. Put a thinned coating of glue on the pattern, and paste it to the wrong side of this paper. Now, one at a time, put glue on each tab and fold it over so that you cover the edge of the cardboard. Glue the other piece of painted paper to the bottom of the butterfly. Gently shape the wings while the cardboard and paper are damp.
To make the body, paint the clothespin black. When it's dry, make a hole in the underside with a drill or awl, and slide it over the wings. To keep it in place, pack the underside opening of the pin with small scraps of cardboard. Choose a dark colored pipe cleaner for the antennae. Fold it in half, and twist the center around the head of the clothespin to fasten it. Shape the antennae.
After the butterfly is finished, you're ready to attach it to the base with the coat hanger. Decide how tall you want the mobile to be, and use pliers to remove the hook portion and some additional length from the hanger. If you wish, cover the wire with floral tape, and bend it into a spiral or zigzag shape. Insert one end of the wire in the body, and staple the other end onto the block. Paint the wood a color which complements the butterfly, and if you wish, decorate the base with dried moss and flowers. Place the butterfly in a breezy area, and surprise your mom for Mother's Day!
Marilyn's Imagination Factory ©1997 Marilyn J. Brackney
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