butterfly fly away

This past week found Saucy waiting for Judgement Day, to see if the Rapture would free her from yard work and the piles of laundry that needed tending to. Her theory was sound: she put off as many chores as possible just in case. Saturday came and went with nary a messiah or an artificial intelligence Terminator, and she realized it was time to get to work. The weeds weren't going to pick themselves.

Saucy and The Secret Weapon did find some time last week to etch a beautiful butterfly for Pepper to have poured into her new concrete kitchen countertops. Because if the end of the world is approaching, you may as well head into the studio and make art.

What follows is by no means a tutorial... just the highlights from one day in the studio with one Dad and daughter on the day before the end of the world.

A piece of zinc was located in the stash, scored, and cut to size.

Saucy used a little sandpaper and water to give the surface a texture for the photo emulsion to stick to.

Under darkroom light, the photo emulsion paper was cut and adhered to the scuffed-up zinc. Just to be sure, The Secret Weapon used a little brayer to press it on firmly and Saucy even ran a heat gun over it.

You can't see the next step because it was just too bright - the zinc was laid under the butterfly artwork Saucy printed onto clear mylar (if you look closely you can see it on the table in the first picture) and exposed to a bright UV light using a crazy vacuum table to hold it in place. This took several minutes... it's like suntanning at a salon. The lights are bright!

After exposing the plate to the light, you can see the negative image of the butterfly appear. Saucy gives it another swipe of the heat gun just to make sure everything is fastened right... before dropping the piece of metal into a bath of baking soda and water:

Saucy wants you to notice that she and The Secret Weapon used environmentally friendly etching methods, even though the world as we know it was about to end.

The baking soda quickly washes away the part of the emulsion that wasn't exposed to light - the part that was protected by the black printing on the clear mylar. It's kind of like magic. Eventually all of the emulsion dissolves and the plate is ready for etching.

This is the best part. Almost immediately the etching solution (mordant) attacks the part of the metal that was protected from the UV light. You can see the image as it blackens... and later...

... the solution mixing with the metal is actually creating copper! Chemistry is beautiful. Using a little brush, you can brush away the excess to reveal the image and check your progress. Saucy and The Secret Weapon visit while the etching takes place and eventually they agree at a point where the image is nicely etched but not too deeply.

After removing it from the bath and rinsing it, The Secret Weapon carefully cuts out the shape of the butterfly. A few tiny blades snap from the pressure. Once the butterfly is released, the edges are filed smooth.

The zinc butterfly still needs to be polished with progressively finer grades of sandpaper. The final polish is actually with a piece of paper from the laser printer - that's so fine!

Saucy's hands get a little black and dirty! All for a worthy cause.

Before applying a light dusting of copper pigment and some lacquer to the finished piece, The Secret Weapon solders a hook-like contraption on the back of the butterfly. This will ensure that it never loosens or pops out of the concrete countertop it will inhabit in Pepper's beautiful new kitchen reno.

Well, at least Saucy did a favour for a friend before the Rapture (didn't) happen. She overheard someone at the grocery store saying they'd gotten their affairs in order just in case and that seemed reasonable enough. She and Veto decided at the very least to drink the last bottle of port on hand and she had her highlights touched up a week early, on the off chance. She wasn't overly excited about the end of the world but she was, however, pretty pumped about the thought of never having to shave her legs again.

What about you, Dear Reader? Were you disappointed to miss any looting parties post-apocalypse? Saucy had her eye on a fabulous pair of shoes... there has to be a bright side to the End of Days.


MJ said...

Am so glad to read of the Secret Weapon at work with you close by his side. Pepper is one lucky friend to have this gift from you! Beautiful work!

Lisa Russell said...

Wouldn't they make beautiful napkin rings? Lovely! How sweet to have your dad work with you on this. Hug him tight! I miss my dad.

The bible says no one knows the time or day when the rapture will come, so I figured we were free to party that day since some people thought it was coming! haha.

Time for some more jewelry and other artsy projects from you! I'm getting withdrawals! xoxo!


You are from such an incredible family. I love hearing about the creations that you and father work on together. She will treasure her gift.

Sarah-Lyn said...

That is SO pretty! Wow, and so much work just to make one, lovely! :)


Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

What an effort--but so pretty!
I'm ready for the end, but selfishly hope I never live to see it. Life has been good to me.

Nina Patricia @ The Adventures of Nina Patricia said...

That is just so beautiful, what a wonderful way to create memories

Pepper said...

As the lucky friend, I have to say that even before the butterfly was made I was so touched. To have a piece of Saucy/Secret Weapon artwork was such an amazing gift.
It is so beautiful.
And I am so very lucky...
Thank you Saucy!

Cassandra said...

Hearing about you working with the Secret Weapon gives me that "all's right with the world" feeling. And I love even more that you were doing it right at the time when the world was supposed to be coming to an end...or not. Beautiful creation, I'm sure it will be treasured! I just had visions of her trying to explain to her husband why she had to take the concrete countertop with them when they move! ;0)

Clandestine Road said...

That is lovely!

Angela G. Willis said...

Well, I was completely in the throngs of party planning and a party (a late bday party for Jordan), we were hoping that a party would be a good way to go out!!! But alas...

Your final product was gorgeous! My favorite photo is the one of your Dad's hands holding the butterfly!

Pepper is such a luck girl! ; )

Love ya...

sassy said...

what a nice day with your Dad! Wouldn't you just love it if he could live right next door?! (that is a cryptic message-call me soon for details!)xox Sassy

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