I've always loved blue morpho butterflies. Their radiant color and iridescence can't be matched. I was lucky enough to see them in real life for the first time this year and was also delighted to find out how clumsy they are, which as a somewhat clumsy person myself makes them all the more endearing. So of course there was no question what this year's costume was going to be!
This costume is comprised of this butterfly headband and silk painted butterfly wings, which are written up separately here.
My goal for the fascinator was to keep it simple while still incorporating some kind of light up element. I had also been experimenting with UV paint, and decided to integrate both. I painted the butterflies to add iridescence and UV reactivity, and used UV string lights to illuminate them. While the string lights do add some light and blue UV color, the butterflies really come to life under a strong overhead blacklight as you can see in the last photo.
I'd also like to give a big shout out to mikeasaurus for the awesome photos!
Step 1: Supplies
If only making a fascinator without any UV paint, this project only requires a set of craft butterflies, wire, and a headband. I chose to make the headband from veg tan leather as it provided a good mix of flexibility and rigidity, and allowed me to thread through the wires to the backside for a cleaner finish. However a standard rigid headband would do as well, and would require epoxy or a stronger glue to adhere the wires to the top.
As far as paint, I had a combination of 4 pigments which I used to create the finish on the butterflies, two for UV, one shimmer paint, and some iridescent blue powder. The paints are as follows:
- Wildfire Blue Clear
- Wildfire Deep Blue
- Pebeo Setacolor in shimmer electric blue
- Jacquard Pearl Ex iridescent powder in interference blue
If choosing to add UV string lights, I got mine here.
Step 2: First Paint Layer
As the butterflies were actually a pretty dark blue, the first coat of paint was not only to add UV reactivity and iridescence, but to lighten them as well. This first layer was a mix of the shimmer blue paint, iridescent blue powder, and wildfire UV clear. You can see the results above in both natural and UV light.
Step 3: Second Paint Layer
The first layer of paint provided a nice base coat, however the UV reactivity was fairly subtle because of all the other pigments involved. As a second layer I used straight UV paints, adding the deep blue to the outsides of each butterfly section, and clear over all of the white spots. The results from this additional layer really made it pop under blacklight, and provided an nice two tone effect in both natural and UV light.
Step 4: Construct Headband
If you are using a store bought headband, you can skip this step. However leather provided a great base for this project if you have some on hand. I used a medium thick piece of veg tan leather, and cut out a rectangle around an inch wide and long enough to wrap the top half of my head.
I then dyed it black, burnished the sides, and added a coat of clear finish.
Step 5: Headband Straps and Battery Holder
Next I needed a means of securing the leather headband, and added a spandex tie to either side. To construct these, I sewed long skinny triangles together and turned them right side out for a clean edge. I then attached them to the leather with a walking foot sewing machine as the leather was thick. Without access to a heavy duty sewing machine, I'd recommend punching holes in the leather and sewing by hand.
To hide the battery pack, I traced around the perimeter and added a line of sewing in which it could sit, then snipped a slit at the top for access the newly made battery pouch.
Step 6: Prep Butterflies
With the headband ready to go, it's time to start adding butterflies!
Each of the craft butterflies I ordered had a hole running down the length of them already, so all that was needed to prep them for attachment was to hot glue a length of wire into the existing hole in each of the bodies.
Step 7: Attach Butterflies
Once all the butterflies were ready to go, I added them one by one to the headband by punching a hole with an awl and running the wire through. Hooking the wire back along the edge of the headband worked well to keep them in place before securing with glue. A head form is useful for this stage, but a helmet or other round object would work too.
This stage is much like flower arranging, and involves a lot of adjustments. Therefore I'd recommend waiting to cut and glue the wire down to the backside until they are arranged to your liking.
Once happy with the results, I snipped each wire and coiled them along the bottom slightly for some leverage, then hot glued in place.
Step 8: Add Lights
I did most of this step in very poor lighting conditions so only have good photos of the final results.
Once all the butterflies were in place, I ran the string lights from the battery pack throughout the backs of the butterflies, wrapping tightly around each butterfly stem and glueing in place along the bottom of the butterflies as I went. I was careful to place the lights underneath the butterflies in ways that would hide the lights from direct view in the front (except for those that ended up on stems), and illuminate the uv paint of the butterflies below them. To achieve this effect I adjusted most of the butterflies to be primarily front facing, with the intention of adding a few more butterflies to the back to cover up the "guts" once the lights were in place.
Step 9: Wrap Wires
Adding the lights made the nice clean wires look messy, so I used some black washi tape to clean things up on all of the stems.
Step 10: Cover the Back
As I arranged the butterflies and lights to look good from the front, the back was looking a little unfinished. I added the three remaining butterflies to the back to give some cover and flush out the arrangement.
Step 11: Finished!
That's it! Especially if skipping the painting and lights steps, this is a satisfyingly quick project. Enjoy being surrounded by a kaleidoscope of butterflies, and if you make your own be sure to share some photos!
Happy fluttering :)