Let’s create a Butterfly Effect on January 21st

Paper art butterflies

Butterflies made from maps, greeting cards, wrapping paper and painted watercolor paper.

Whenever I feel unsettled or need to express myself, I turn to my art. As an art therapist I know how healing art can be and it is usually the best way for me to express my feelings. Since the US presidential election I have felt numb and uneasy, as have many people I know. I am feeling a strong need to work this out through my art in some way and to involve others in the process; to unify our voices. So I am inviting everyone to help me create a “Butterfly Effect” on January 21, 2017 (one week from now corresponding with the Women’s March in Washington DC). The Butterfly Effect is the premise that the small fluttering whisper of a butterfly’s wings can create dramatic change halfway around the world by causing a roaring typhoon or hurricane. In theory it suggests that a very small change can have a huge impact.

Decorated art butterfly

Decorated wrapping paper butterfly with glitter glue outlines

Since a butterfly often symbolizes hope, healing and transition it is a perfect metaphor to use in a massive art installation. I am proposing that as many people as possible take part and make our voices heard – messages of hope, unity, kindness, peace and support. My idea is for each person to make a butterfly with a message and hang it on a tree or bush at one of the Women’s Marches around the country held on January 21, 2017. Anyone around the world is invited to do the same on that day joining in unity and peace. Imagine for a moment thousands of butterflies appearing in public, each with a personal message of hope, peace and unity. All our single voices (the flap of a butterfly’s wings) coming together to create a roar across the country (or world). Our voices may inspire those who sit in silence and it is a peaceful way to express our thoughts and feelings. Who wouldn’t take notice at the sight of thousands of beautiful butterflies?

Steps to make a watercolor butterfly:

The butterfly is simple to make and can be done by most any age 4 years or older (refer to photo for samples). It takes no more than 30-45 minutes to make. Using a marker or pencil, trace a butterfly outline (Google “butterfly outlines”) onto any kind of paper (see ideas below). Make the butterfly a little bigger than the size of your palm, approximately 4-5 inches wingspan. I traced mine right on top of my iPad. The light lets the image show through the paper. Cut out with scissors, then decorate with glitter glue, collage, paint, sequins or whatever your like. Use your creativity and imagination! I painted some on watercolor paper. I used the glitter glue to make the veins in the wings (see sample). You can draw a dark body in the middle of the wings or use a small piece of ribbon (like in the photo) or pipe cleaner instead. For hanging attach a string loop through the center and secure with a bead or knot underneath so it doesn’t pull through. Another option would be to attach it with hot glue to a small spring hair clip to clip onto a branch. Finally, write your message on the underside of the wings and add your first name or leave anonymous. To give some dimension, the wings may be slightly curled with your fingers. Take your butterfly to hang at a March location, or give it to someone who is going. Alternatively hang it in a park or public area in your community.

I would love to see trees of colorful butterflies at the Women’s March. Let’s make our single voices roar together and create a Butterfly Effect to be remembered and inspire hope again! If you send me photos of your butterflies and messages I will do my best to post them.

Ideas for paper to use for butterflies:
Wrapping paper
Old greeting cards
Old maps
Calendar photos
Page of an old book
Love letter
Painted watercolor paper
Comic strips
Recycled paper
Construction paper
Child’s scribble drawing
Starched fabric
Magazine page
Origami paper
Handmade paper
Any colorful or interesting paper to decorate!

If you like this idea please share with as many people on social media or organize a group of friends to make them.  I can’t wait to see your creations!

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