Friday, 1 July 2011

Metallic butterfly wings

This little critter is an Arte Metal decorivet by Vintaj that I got as part of the delicious beady mail I got when winning the Rings & Things blog partner drawing this spring. If you want to see what it looked like before I altered it -- forgot to take a pic myself -- you can find a photo here.

Inspired by a keum-boo butterfly, I wanted to add a mottled effect to the wings using leaf metal flake. Leaf metal often comes in sheets, but flakes are -- as the name inplies -- a blend of different types/colours of leaf metal in small flakes. They are sold in different colour combination and here I choose to use one with purple and rose flakes on top of the gold, silver and copper ones. That is gold- and silver-coloured copper, not precious leaf metal.

Compared to working with sheets, it's very easy to "gild" a surface using flakes. For a mottled effect like this one you just simply dip the surface -- painted with size -- into the flakes, let it dry a little and brush of excess metal with a soft brush before letting it set completely. If you don't like the result, add size to points you like to cover with a different colour flakes and either dip again or apply single flakes to the spots using a soft, dampened brush.

The butterfly has tiny specks of leaf metal on the body. That's because I initially wanted to add foil to the bands across it, but didn't like the result so I scraped it off. You can't really see much of it IRL as the butterfly is smaller than in my photo, but I'll try and scrape some more off before sealing the gilding. Because it's copper-based, the leaf metal can easily tarnish unless coated.

Not my best work using leaf metal flakes, but a fun -- if slightly fiddly -- alternative to using paints, alcohol inks, gilder's paste and such.


  1. That you! It's fun to work with leaf metals. I'm not sure you've seen it, but if you click the label rivoli, you can find a rivoli I "foiled" with variegated leaf metal too.

  2. This is really something to try. Great results!

    1. Yeah, do! It's a bit fiddly with all those foil flakes that can fly away if you so much as breath on them, but the results are often worth the effort.

      Thanks for your comment!


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