“How do you make the wings?” Mixing the old with the new

The question most commonly asked about My Insect and Animal art is, “How do you make the wings?” Moth Well, it’s a fairly long process so I will simplify the process as much as possible here. Firstly a do a few Google searches of ‘natural history and insect photography’ to find images of clearly visible wings that appeal to me and that I think would work well incorporated into one of My pieces. I also use old entomological reference books and newer photographic reference books 10649532_947435761937138_2666882823733547848_n Then I do a few sketches and drawings which enable me to get the feel of the shape, the example here being the Peacock Butterfly design. I will not directly copy one set of wings from a photo I find but will take all the best bits and put them all together till I get what I consider to be the perfect wing. 21-09-2014 11;07;58(1) I will then paint the wings in the highly detailed manner of the illustrations in old natural history reference books, the traditional style of entomological drawings and paintings, painstakingly executed, by illustrators that I admire so much. tumblr_m7xupvgIA91rvjsk3o1_1280 So, I have my nice traditionally painted set of wings (the old). Now to add ‘the new’…. My hand painted wings are scanned into my computer. The next bit involves superimposing circuit images onto the wings. The images are created digitally in various computer programmes such as Ink Scape or Illustrator. This is the bit I have trouble with, I don’t really know what I’m doing and I have to admit that most of my designs are happy accidents. I can never repeat what I’ve done because I don’t know/ I’m not quite sure what I’ve done! I’m sure with time and practice I will get the hang of digital art but the point is to mix old traditional methods, painted illustrations, with new methods, digitally created art… 19-05-2014 23;10;16 Then the wings are printed out onto transparent acetate, cut out, a bit of extra hand painted transparent colour and a little extra drawing with permanent inks, ‘hey presto’ DSC09514 The tiny and complex patterns on the circuit boards are repeated on the wings as ‘veins’. I have packs of acetate which I found in the ‘Craft Bank’ The Beneficial foundation, in Portsmouth,

DSC07059Hampshire. Many of the used acetate sheets already have things printed on them but for 50p a box I’m not complaining…. so I compose my wings in such a way that they will print out only on clear areas keeping my work true to the theme of recycling. The Craft Bank are given stuff by companies…stuff that is no longer needed and the public can go and get the stuff… Its actually where I got my first big box of electronic components that first inspired the Computer Insects. I also found lots of computer key pads at the Craft Bank. It is inside the key boards that I discovered the transparent computer circuit blue prints that I also use for the wings. So, although many of the wings are not always directly from computers, they certainly are recycled, thanks to the Craft Bank.  Well, that’s briefly how the wings are done. Its a long process but well worth it. The art of up cycling – creating something beautiful and precious from waste materials.

11 thoughts on ““How do you make the wings?” Mixing the old with the new

  1. These are so great, I LOVE recycled technology items. I have the same problem making the same thing twice though, I make it once and I just can’t seem to recreate it. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I guess the biggest question I have is regarding the sheets of acetate. Do these come in a correct size for a computer printer? Not familiar at all with it. And then do you just use a scissors to cut this acetate or something akin to a jeweler’s saw?

    Liked by 1 person

    • A4. Not all printers like acetate…I’ve broken a couple when first experimenting with my wings …trail and error. I use tine craft scissors for cutting


  3. Great detailed story. This helps to justify what we price our items as artists! I also love the recycling aspect. I use a lot of scrap dichroic glass for most of my jewelry so because the colors are not labeled in any way, most of my jewelry can be happy surprises and difficult to repeat. I also try to rework things that don’t work. I will grind cut, add different bits, etc.


    • Thank you for the great feedback Laurie. I agree! I am always re-working things that at first don’t work. I hate waste …both waste of materials and of time. Happy suprises fill me with joy!


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