Gel Printed Butterflies by Mollie Weston

Hi everyone, Mollie here. I first made these butterflies during art lessons with children at school, using pages taken from magazines. The effect is really pretty and recently it got me thinking about I could turn it into a Gelli Arts project. 

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I started off by using one of the sheets of paper that I use to clean my brayer and I was really pleased with the result. I then realised that the Gelli Arts Parchment Paper is perfect for making these butterflies as it is so thin it makes it easy to fold and meant that the butterflies I made with this paper were much more delicate looking when finished. I have used nylon display wire to hang my butterflies, but there are so many other ways you could use them including 3D cards, displayed in a 3D frame, stuck around the edge of light shade or made into a wreathe. I may well do another blog at some time in the future using one of these other ideas. 

Start by printing the butterfly template, preferably on card stock.  Cut out the 2 curved shapes and trace round them onto parchment paper. I recommend using printer paper (about 75-80 gms) for the rectangle as I found parchment paper was a little thin for the butterfly’s antennae, which you will cut from this piece. You will need one set of shapes per butterfly you would like to make.

Roll out your background colour evenly. The butterfly template shapes will fit on a 10 x 8 gel plate. When the shapes are dry, roll out the same colour again and print the other side.

Position the 3 shapes underneath your gel plate

Use different colour paints to create symmetrical patterns over each piece of paper

Remove the pieces of parchment paper from underneath the gel plate and carefully place them over the design and lift a print

When dry repeat the process on the other side of the paper. “you can either use the same colour and patterns again or create a contrasting pattern depending on whether you want your butterfly to look the same on each side. Personally I liked the effect that contrasting colours created.

Take the rectangle which straight edges and cut a thin strip from the long edge, which will be your butterfly’s antennae and the short edge, which you will wrap around your butterfly’s middle.

Take each curved section and fold into narrow pleats. The best technique is to fold in half, then fold each half, in half and continue like this until your pleats are 0.5 cm/1/4 inch wide. The narrower you can manage to get them the more delicate your butterfly wings will be. It is probably worth practising this pleating on a scrap of paper first.

When both sections are completed fold in the middle leaving you with a heart shape.

Next take your rectangle and roll it around a bamboo skewer or thin paintbrush. Remove the skewer and make sure one end is wide enough to fit the width of the strip you cut to be the antennae. Now glue the end down with PVA glue.

Fold the long thin strip in half and put a small blob of glue on the folded end. Use the skewer to carefully push the strip about an inch (2.5 cm) down the tube and then pinch to stick.

Then curl each end around the skewer to create the antennae.

Now take the 2 heart shaped pleated sections and use a blob of glue to join them together in the middle. Use the small strip you have left to wrap round the middle and secure with another blob of glue.

Open out the wings to create the shape you want for your butterfly. It’s worth experimenting with how much you open out each wing. I actually felt my butterfly wings were too rounded and altered them by re-pleating them a little (see finished butterflies).

Finally choose which side of your butterfly is going to be the front and glue the body with antennae onto of the centre of your butterfly (on the strip of paper you have wrapped around its middle). 

Here are some fun photos to inspire you further

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