Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Summer Butterfly

Everyone loves butterfly motifs! I've often been
asked to create designs with them and have a
variety of projects in a selection of past my books ...

So, once again, with demand from my current students,
I have put together some simple wire butterfly instructions.
Hopefully, something that can be created without much
previous wirework knowledge! Boy, did I work hard
testing out a variety of designs!

... but ... these butterflies finally settled on this tutorial!

I've put added lots of image steps, to make the project as
comprehensible for a beginner starting out. All you will need is:
Round, Flat and Chain Nosed Piers, Wire Cutters, Hammer and
Steel Block, 0.4mm and 0.8mm wire plus a selection of beads ...

So, are you sitting comfortably?
Then, I will begin ...

STEP 1 (outer frame)
Cut approx. 12"
(30cm) of 0.8mm
(20-gauge) wire.

Place the tips of your
round nosed pliers at
the centre and bend
the wire in half.


Holding the centre with the tips of your pliers, pull the wire
through your fingers on each side to form a slight curve (like
a child's drawing of a flying seagull!).


Measure approx. 25mm from the centre to one side and using
the tips of your chain nosed pliers, bend the wire back around.


Repeat (Step 3) for the opposite side of the frame, crossing
the wires over at the centre.


Using the tips of your chain nosed pliers, pinch the very ends
together (leaving a small gap).


Place the tips of your chain nosed pliers inside the small
pinched ends and using a circular mandrel (or your fingers),
form a larger curve, creating the top wings on each side.


Using the tips of your chain nosed (or flat nosed pliers), bend the wires
back around on each side, from the centre 'V' of the frame. Squeeze the
wires together, so that they follow the contour wire line of the first wings.


Pulling the wire gently through your fingers, begin forming a loose
curve back around (towards the middle) on each side.



Measure approx. 25mm from the doubled end of each
top wing, to the curve of the base wing and using the
tips of your chain nosed pliers, bend each of the wires
back up towards the middle, where they should cross
over at the centre of the frame.


As in Step 5, use the tips of your chain nosed pliers to pinch the
tip ends.


To shape the base wings, you can use a cylindrical mandrel
(as in Step 6).


Bring the ends of the wires to the central doubled wires
and snip off any excess, so that you have just enough left
to fold over and secure.


Use your round nosed pliers to bend little hooks onto each end
wire and squeeze to secure in place.


Carefully hammer (to work harden) the outer curved edges of the
frame, avoiding the end wing tips and doubled central wires.

STEP 15 (central body)

To create the central 'body', cut approx. 9" (23cm) of 0.8mm
wire. Place your round nosed pliers at the centre, crossing the
wires over on each side to form a circular loop.


As in the previous step, place your round nosed pliers back into
the first loop to create another loop directly above, by wrapping
the wires around the second tapered shaft of your round nosed pliers.


Repeat this technique to continue forming the loops in a row,
moving your pliers upwards until it is the desired length to fit
at the centre of the butterfly frame. Use the tips of your chain
nosed pliers, to bend the excess wires up on each side (to form the


Cut approx. 5" (13cm) of 0.4mm wire and secure 2 or 3 times
around the top (or head) of the looped 'body'.


Thread the wire with a seed bead (that fits into the gap) and bring it
into the first looped (head) space. Secure the bead into place, by
wrapping the wire once around the top of the next looped space.


Continue threading and securing the beads into all of the spaces.
Secure the wire at the very end and cut off any excess and neaten.


Cut approx. 10" (25cm) of 0.4mm wire and secure on each side,
around the middle of the wing frame.


Place the beaded 'body' at the centre of the frame and thread
each of the projecting 0.4mm wires through side gaps (by the
beads) and wrap to secure around the edge of the wings.
Continue using as much of the 0.4mm wire to secure the beaded
body to the wing frame. Then, cut off any excess and neaten the ends.

STEP 23 (decorating the wings)

You can decorate the wings in numerous ways, but this is possibly
the quickest! Cut a length of 0.4mm wire and secure the centre of
the wire at the back of the frame. Pulling one end diagonally through
one of the top wings and the other end, through one of the bottom wings.
Thread the ends of the wires with your chosen beads, filling the wing
space and secure tightly and neatly at the tips of the wings.


Repeat again on the other diagonal and now, all that's left
to do, is to spiral the ends of the 'antennae' at the top of
the beaded body! (I would also personally recommend,
hammering the spiral ends of the antennae to work harden them).


If you wish to suspend the butterfly from a chain, it makes
an ideal necklace. Alternatively, it can a handbag charm,
a brooch, or wired onto a hair accessory ... etc ... etc ...


Experiment with different bead colours and wires, scaling it
up and down in size!

Alternatively, if you want a more filigree effect, follow all the
steps up to 11 ... Do not cut off any of the excess wire ... just
create open spirals with the ends of the wire.

Position and flatten the spirals, so that they sit in the
base wing spaces.

Create a 2 x spiral 'S' shapes to fit into the top wing spaces and
secure in place using 0.4mm wire to bind onto the frame.

Above is a variation option for the 'body' that I have
made with small (rice crispy) freshwater pearls.

Secure the body with 0.4mm wire onto the wing frame
and if desired, wire a brooch back finding to the back of
the beaded centre.

I do hope this tutorial has given you plenty of butterfly inspiration
and food for thought to create your own unique versions!


... enjoy a wonderful summer ...