Thursday, June 4, 2009

Beads of Courage: Butterfly Beads

Marcy Lamberson has blogged about Robert Simmons' new take on butterfly beads using white enamel and copper leaf. Robert's beads are the top picture. He's the National Director for Bead Donations for the Beads of Courage program. He also is a wonderful person and an excellent teacher--only Robert could tell a group of lampworkers about the chemical composition of etching fluid, and its dangers (this stuff can eat down to the bone!), and have all of us raring to go out and etch some more ... carefully.

Butterfly beads are given to parents whose children didn't survive their illness. The problem with many sculptural butterfly beads is that, while they are beautiful, they can also be delicate.
Unless the wings are carefully attached, they are likely to chip or snap off. It's not a problem if the parents want to display the bead, but many want to wear it and keep it close.

Robert has made an excellent tutorial on making these beads; you can see pictures at the Southern Flames website.

The second and third pictures are of both sides of my first butterfly bead. I rather pretentiously named it "From Bonds Arising," and added copper mesh to signify the prison fence of the body that the child has escaped. The bead can be wired so that it can be worn as a pendant.


If you do not want to use enamels, I have found that adding copper leaf over a dot of Opal Yellow will give a lovely green color, as seen in these beads from last year. I think if you add a dot of Opal Yellow where you want your butterfly to be that you can achieve a similar look. If you want to use fine 40 or 42 gauge copper sheeting, the butterfly will turn a lovely shade of pink if you use it over Reichenbach frits in the pink and red family, as seen in this focal (it's a dragonfly, so just imagine it as a butterfly, k?).

Robert's tutorial (and my tips) are freely offered to the lampworking community. Please consider making--and donating--some of these butterfly beads to Beads of Courage.

3 comments:

one-eared pig said...

Thank you for the wonderful tips!

Jennifer Cameron said...

I am so glad I am finally catching up! they are beautiful and I always feel like my sculptural butterflies are too cutesy for the purpose they serve at BOC.

Stephanie Butler said...

I remember one time I am making bracelets made of beads as a souvenir for my friends.
buy beads