Large, stenciled butterflies hung from the lower branches of a specimen oak in the grounds of Bywell Hall, Northumberland.
The tree was planted by a British princess, there are a few royal trees in the collection. The wingspan of the stencilled butterflies measured around 28 inches. I used matt emulsion paint from Crown Paint to stencil onto heavy drafting film from PSG in London. The film was slightly damaged which made it unfit for sale but was perfect for our use. When I was watching the master decorative painters at Salon in Paris a few years ago they told me that drafting film was a wonderful surface on which to demonstrate decorative techniques such marbling and wood graining. I took their advice, it is also beautiful to stencil and gild onto.
The stencil was a custom sized CO13 Butterfly from The Stencil Library. The design has three overlays and the cut out bit from the first layer of the stencil provided the template to make all the butterfly shapes from. The shape is quite simple and once drawn onto the film it can be cut with scissors or scalpel. Fortunately, I have a cutting machine so most of mine were cut for me. A group of friends came to help stencil them, drink Prosecco and provide laughter.
A mixture of first time stencillers and bubbly provided surprisingly good results and no butterflies were harmed in the process.
On the night before the Jubilee Big Lunch my ever patient friend Jeanne helped me arrange and secure the butterflies in the branches. We were unable to use step ladders (insurance fears) so we lobbed a ball of red blue and white twine through the branches taking great care not to damage anything. The lichen held the string in place allowing the butterflies to flutter above the heads of the picnickers.
It was dark when we finished which explains the wierd glow in some of the pictures. Since the picnic I have had requests from two families wanting to hire the butterflies as wedding decoration. They will make an appearance in my garden and might be seen lining the route of the Olympic Torch when it goes through our village. Using the same template we made thirty stencilled, red, white and blue butterflies onto white card, I'll show you what we did with those on a future post. This was not the only tree that we dressed with butterflies, a vast, copper beech tree was visited by strings of white butterflies and moths, I have nearly finished editing the pictures, please visit again to see them.