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In Lisa's own words...

"I am still very new to the art of clay, about 6 months, so I am still learning to make the basic canes and skinner blends. I very much wanted to learn to make the butterfly canes after I saw some on eBay for sale, but after asking the seller how to make them and getting a very vague reply that let me know she didnt want to reveal her secret, I started looking online for the tutorial, but I could not find one anywhere. Then I learned to make a leaf cane and realized I could use the same technique for a butterfly cane, so I started practicing. After much clay and frustration I finally got one that sort of resembled a butterfly cane. I decided to offer what I learned so that others coming after me will be able to find a tutorial."

Supplies:

  • Clay (your choice of brand and color and amount)
  • Pasta machine
  • Cutting blade
  • A good butterfly picture to use for reference(I use google images)
The first thing I did was to do a Google search for images of butterflies. I found one that I liked and wanted to duplicate (photo, right), so I made a copy of it for reference. I also have used downloaded blank butterfly pictures that you can color. I would draw in the lines, dots and colors using the google image as a reference. Now I can compare the two and get it as close as I can. To use a quote from a well known artist, Nora Jean Gatine... "Remember that a dot is a snake of clay, a line is a sheet of clay and a graduation of color is a blend." This really helped me a lot! Thanks NJ!

As we start, remember that you can use any color combination that you want, or skinner blends of your choice. I started by making lots of bullseye canes using the dominant color from my example (or skinner blends) and then I covered them with the outline color of choice, a very light white/blue in my example. I then shape them to resemble the different scales (pattern) in the wing. They're not all the same - some I leave round in different sizes, other I flatten and make them long and narrow. I also use my extruder gun to get different components such as lines and triangles to fill in the places where gaps would be. I use the dominant color for these.

After making all the components of the wing, it's a simple matter to assemble them using your picture as a guide. I make the top wing, and then I make the bottom wing, trying to stay as close to the picture as I can (photo, right). Let them rest or cool in the fridge. When cooled, slice them in half. The slices flipped over will make the mirror-image left side of the butterfly. You can now build the body from clay, add legs and antennae (some folks use spiral canes as the antennae). You can now pack translucent clay around the butterfly and reduce to the size you want, or you can use the butterfly as is for pendants. As you can see, though they were close, my colors and patterns weren't quite right with my example, but I learned a lot while doing it. Below is another wing set that I did which resembles the Monarch or Viceroy butterfly. As you can see, a lot can be done by varying the colors and shapes!

I hope you enjoy this simple lesson, and if you have any questions please email me at hlmorgan@sowega.net.

by Lisa Morgan
©2006




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