Rome wasn't built in a day and this butterfly isn't going to be either.
Figuring out the pattern and deciding on a design seems like the easy part now that I've launched into the actual construction of this...
Remember my inspiration was this butterfly brooch exhibited by Tiffany in 1901 at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY...
I chose to make the butterfly just a tad bigger than last we talked so I decided to couch slightly heavier wire to support the beaded wings, a 30 gauge wire instead of the 33 gauge I used for the lace flowers.
I fused together a gray metallic silk organza and an ivory silk organza and used them as my base fabric.
For the pattern, I printed the butterfly onto acid-free tissue paper by taping the tissue to a piece of copy paper and running it through my printer. Because the organza is transparent, I was able to sandwich the pattern behind the fused organza and stretch it all in the hoop together. Since the piece is going to be so heavily beaded, I don't think the tissue will show and might even give the piece a bit more stability...we'll see.
Now came the decision of what to overcast the wire with? I had already colored my white, paper-coated wire with acid-free silver paint but I had lots of metal threads to choose from when it came to selecting one to use for couching.
Metal threads can be tricky. They are normally made by wrapping a metal around some type of core and, as you stitch, it's possible that the metal can strip away from the core giving you a raggy looking thread. That problem is usually helped by using a bigger needle with a wider eye...but pulling the metal thread through a metal organza could potentially compound the problem.
So I did a little test strip on the edge of my piece trying out all of the threads you see below...
[from left to right: YLI fine metallic, Kreinik cable, Kreinik cord, DMC metal, Soie d'Alger silk, and Kreinik #4 very fine braid]
I had pretty much convinced myself that I would use the non-metal, silk thread to avoid the metal issue altogether...but once I stitched with it, and compared it to the others...it was really lost on the piece.
I also wanted to see how each metal thread handled being stitched through the metal organza and how they looked compared with all the beads I would be using...
I really didn't like the YLI (it's a very fine thread but it stripped really easily when being couched over such a small wire)...the Kreinik silver cord was my favorite for stitchability, look and color but I actually thought the overall effect was too fine in comparison to the beading. I needed something chunkier. Next up was the Kreinik cable...and I felt this was just a bit too coarse and chunky for what I wanted. The DMC metallic held up nicely and didn't strip as much as others but I also thought it didn't pack enough punch. The silk thread was too fine and didn't show up for the party...and the last thread to the right, was a green Kreinik #4 very fine braid (I didn't have silver). Actually, I ended up liking the way this one handled the most...it didn't strip easily and it bent over the wire nicely. Only problem is I don't have any of it...so I'm off to find some today.
I do think that any of these threads would work under different conditions, I was just interested in finding the right thread for this job. And this little test strip really helped me to narrow down my choices. I also like having the beads stitched down on the piece as well...When I start beading, this reference will help a lot when I make the decision of where to use which bead.
And so my friends, just as a real butterfly, has to crawl before it can fly...I too am crawling along...trying to find the right materials and use them in the right way so I get the effect of a piece of jewelry.
All of these brooches would translate nicely into embroidery, wouldn't they? In some ways, jewelers and embroiderers are trying to accomplish a similar task. The task of creating a rendering of a real object in nature while working under the constraints of our materials on hand, whether those materials be platinum and diamonds, or threads and beads...
While I've been struggling, I remembered that Jim had given me two jeweled butterflies for two different anniversaries over the years. Jim hasn't purchased many pieces of jewelry for me but he has bought me these two small pins...
Isn't that interesting?
And I haven't worn them in some time...almost forgotten them really. When I went to search my jewel box this morning, I couldn't believe that one of them had pink stones too...just like the Tiffany brooch I'm emulating in this piece.
Just one more way of connecting me and my life to this piece of needlework.
And to this butterfly...the bugger.
Wish me luck!