Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Making monarch butterfly wings: A pictorial guide

This Save the Monarchs project with the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Earth Day Indiana and numerous other partners is growing daily. First off we have hundreds of 3D monarch butterflies being constructed by 4th and 5th graders throughout the state. They will hang by the hundreds in the Artsgarden, starting mid-April; this exhibition will run well into the month of May.

A secondary program has emerged as part of this larger, awareness-building effort around the plight of monarch butterflies. We've held a couple workshops in schools on building monarch butterfly wings that kids can wear. You've heard of Be the Change. Well, this is Be the Butterfly.

These two aspects will come together on Earth Day Indiana, April 25, in White River State Park, where kids will make their own wings and parade around the festival and to the Artsgarden and back. Stay tuned for details. In the meantime, here's how you build your own wings.

Thanks to Cold Spring School, whose students worked on these butterfly wings all day, plus our volunteers Melissa, Alexis, Summer, Maddie and Skye.

We started off with our main material: the polystyrene lunch trays the school would otherwise throw out.
Having a stencil ready is essential. Here the students trace around the stencil.
More stencil-tracing action!
Former Earth Charter Indiana intern Alexis was a great help.
Once you've got the components cut out for the wings, you have to string them together somehow. We chose to use VHS tape, because — like the polystyrene — is a material at end-of-use.  
Lookin' good! Now it's time to paint!

Kids worked in teams all day long.
The finished product does not have to look like a monarch butterfly. Let your creativity soar!
Skye, on the other hand, was painstaking about making her wings realistic.
Here, you can see how the wings attach to the body — again, using VHS tape.
Finished product; ready for flight!

 Additional ideas for using repurposed materials, as well as what to apply to the wings, are welcome!


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