A Butterfly Mobile for My Niece

My youngest sister is expecting her first child next month, and we’ve all been helping her get ready from halfway across the country. The nursery has a color scheme of green, blue, grey and pink – and has some antique and modern wood pieces mixed in. My brother-in-law painted clouds and the wall and hung a vintage plane garland from some super talented folks online (found on etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MagpieandMax) to set the scene…and so far I have also made a book crate and set of hooks with stenciled birds. Both were thrift store finds remade to fit our style. I felt especially crafty when I was able to match the color of the hooks to the style and color of the flowers on the crate. I actually forgot to snap photos before they were given to my sister, but she sent these to share:

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Since a little girl is on the way, we decided that butterflies would be an appropriate addition to the flight theme. But much to our disappointment, the only mobile we found that we truly loved was no longer available from Pottery Barn, and was priced at such an obscene price that even if it was still in-stock, way more than we wanted to throw down for such an item. So off to the craft store I went to remedy the situation.

I found some awesome semi-translucent handmade paper at the Wisconsin Craft Market in white and green; and used two coupons plus took advantage of a papercraft promotion at JoAnn’s to score appropriate sized butterfly punches. I wanted varied sizes to add interest and uniqueness to this piece.

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I will now admit that punching the paper was way harder than I thought it would be, mainly due to the texture and thickness of the handmade paper. Determined to obtain the aerial aspect of the butterfly with the paper, I played around with folds and such to find a thickness/firmness that did not render the punches useless (aka jammed with paper) and produced clear punches with a minimal waste of paper. Luckily M was assisting and made the great suggestion of backing the craft paper with regular computer paper. Viola! Butterflies without the stress of carefully extracting after every punch. This happy solution yielded a side benefit, as not only did the punches turn out perfectly, but we found that the white punches added great contrast to the project at hand.

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To string the mobile, I bought beading line, but could have also picked up fishing line or thread or string. If you are attempting a mobile,  pick a string that fits your theme, as pretty much any type will work. Additionally,  I picked up a round wooden basket weaving piece to serve as the anchor. I had been in search of an embroidery loop in pink or green, but this guy was the perfect size, and made of a lovely color wood to boot. I also bought a new pack of needles…I swear I had some on-hand, yet have no idea where I “stored” them. (Ironically they weren’t actually needed in the end in the way I had thought they would be…)

To start, we needed a top to this mobile. I grabbed some ribbon from my wrapping box that coordinated with this project and cut two longer pieces and a short piece.

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I very simply tied the longer pieces across the circle and tucked in the ends. Then I gathered them together at the highest point of their crossing and tied a small loop.

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Next I laid all the butterflies out on the bed in rows of 8. I also cut 8 strings. (Beading line is hard impossible to photograph).  Depending on your hanging space or style, additional and/or longer strands could be crafted.

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Originally I was very careful to organize them in a regular pattern of sizes, textures, and colors to ensure a genuine mix of butterflies.  Once I was happy with the length, I rearranged to create a more unregimented balance and natural look of a random flight.

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The next part sounds complicated, but in truth was truly easy, especially once you find a rhythm. Knot the end of your string, and then one by one, punch a hole in your butterfly, string it, tie a new knot, and repeat until you have completed the strand. I did not measure in-between the knots, as the irregular spacing was ideal. I used the needles to punch my butterflies vs threading the beading line. Not what you were expecting,  right? Me either.

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Once I finished each one, I threw it over the curtain rod until all 8 were complete. Already they looked extremely pretty assembled together:

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To finish, I used a safety pin to hang the top of the mobile from our ceiling fan, and make the knot tying easier. We have pretty low ceilings, so this worked well at our house.

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I then laid all 8 strands over the edges of the circle, putting two strands in between each ribbon knot. Because of the irregular spaces between the butterflies, the total length varied a bit. If you find this annoying, feel free to lay them next to each other and trim them to the same length. The top of each strand is double knotted with the actual knot pulled to the bottom; then looped, knotted again, and the last edge tucked under the loop and carefully trimmed so that you cannot see the end.

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Now to get it into the mail so it arrives before my niece does…

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5 Responses to A Butterfly Mobile for My Niece

  1. Oh my goodness, that butterfly mobile is to die for.

    Like

  2. Barb johnson says:

    You are very creative – and your love for your sister and soon to be here niece is evident in the tremendous amount of time taken to make the lovely mobile!

    Like

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