BOC Butterfly Tutorial
Our local chapter tries very hard to supply enough butterfly beads for our local Beads of Courage program, but we never have enough and more are always needed. Part of the reason for this is that the connotation of these beads is just so incredibly sad that it is hard to get motivated for making them. This is the bead given to a parent of a child that is now free from the sufferings that they have been going through in their life. The other reason they are demanding to make is that we can never begin to express the perfection of that lost life in a bead. But we try.
Sharon Peters, seen here, has offered to show us how she makes butterfly beads as a way to inspire you to help support this worthwhile program.
As can be seen in the picture of a small grouping of butterfly beads, you can choose almost any color scheme for this project, although light transparent colors seem especially appropriate.
Sharon starts by winding a cylindrical base of transparent blue glass onto the mandrel that she then marvers into the smooth barrel that will form the body of her butterfly.
Next she adds a small application of light amber glass about one-half inch in diameter at about the one-quarter point down the length of the body, as shown in the first process photo. This application and its mate will form the interior sections of the forward wings. She makes sure to apply this glass hot to a well warmed body to avoid creating undercuts that can cause the wing to crack off at some time in the future.
Next Sharon flattens out these small globs of glass to about three sixteenths of an inch thick using her mini-mashers, as seen in the next photo.
Because Sharon thinks the chill rings add a ruffled look to the wings of her butterflies, she does not rewarm the mashed surfaces enough to remove them.
Instead she reheats just the edges and squares them up slightly using her Sharon shaper, as seen in the next photo. This step prevents the final wings from getting too big for the butterfly’s body, because she will be adding additional glass around them.
Sharon now applies a ring of transparent blue glass around the amber center. She adds this outer ring of blue in four passes, each half way around an amber center; first doing the front halves and then the back halves, which we see her finishing in the next photo.
Now Sharon repeats this process for the lower wings. She starts out by again adding another pair of slightly smaller applications of light transparent amber glass at about the three-quarter point along the body, just behind the front wings.
When she reheats and mashes out this glass, she makes sure that it forms a good joint on its front edge to the forward wing, as seen in the next photo. To make a good joint between the two requires that she also warms the back edge of the forward wing.
Sharon then squares up the mashed amber as before and wraps its edge in transparent blue too. Because the amber is already connected to the front wing, she just has to wrap with blue glass on the back ends. To join the blue wrap to the forward wing, she heats up its front portion and uses a tungsten pick to pull it around to join with the front wing as shown in the next photo.
In order to give the front and back outer corners of the wings a little triangular point, Sharon adds a little extra blue glass to each of these locations, as shown in the photo. She then draws out each of these areas into a point by pulling them out using a glass punty. She does this by warming each corner in turn, touching the cool punty to the point, pulling the point out, and burning off the punty as seen in the next photo. This completes the main shape of the butterfly and Sharon now turns to decorating it.
The main decorative elements that Sharon uses for her butterflies are transparent dots; the first of which we see her applying in the next photo. She adds large transparent amber dots on the top and bottom of the center amber area of the wings to help reinforce the thin glass.
Next Sharon ruffles the edges of the wings by warming their edges and repeatedly poking in down their length with her shaper.
Then she adds transparent purple dots at the corner of each wing as in the following photo.
Sharon now adds some texture to the body of the butterfly as in the next process photo. She achieves this texture by painting on a stripe of transparent blue down the cylindrical core of the bead and then adds ridges to it by repeatedly pushing in down its length with her shaper.
Lastly Sharon forms a head on the body of the butterfly using layered dots as in the photo to the left. First she adds a clear dot top and bottom. Then she uses her shaper to flatten these dots, first one and then the other, reheating as necessary. After this she applied a transparent purple dot on top of each clear dot and mashes these down too. Sharon actually chose to have two layers of dots on this bead because the clear dot didn’t show up well enough. If you wanted, your heads could be a single dot on the top and bottom.
You can see the relative thickness of each of these dots in the final side view of the bead before she tucks it away into the annealer.
Its final beauty shines forth, as seen here, after it is removed from the annealer and cleaned.
This bead is now something that will be cherished for years to come, so we try to make good ones. Sharon and I urge you to make some yourself and donate them to the Beads of Courage program. They are badly needed and you will feel good about it. This is also a good project to help develop your heat control for making sculptural beads.
ISGB thanks Sharon Peters and Jim Kervin for submitting this article.