Behind the scenes:
I began installing the butterfly mosaics at the Calusa Nature Center this morning. The center was closed to the public for beautification week and the day was peaceful and quiet except for the sound of the power washer spraying the boardwalk overhead.
It was nice to create in the midst of nature and to hear the sounds of wildlife all around me. The shorebirds were the most noticeable with the Gulls letting out erratic cackling sounds and the Brown Pelicans making a noise that can only be described as prehistoric.
I also spotted a very camouflaged frog hiding on a wire in the area where the mural is going in. Can you see him?
And several snails climbing around on the outside of the butterfly aviary.
Halfway throughout the day I was distracted by Buffalo Bill, the center's Sulcata Tortoise, working his way around his enclosure, smashing into the fence. He is such a darling creature and I was struck by how aware he was of his surroundings. It might be worth mentioning that Sulcata Tortoises can outlive you (with a potential lifespan of 100 years, buying one might not be the best way to spend your money...even though they are adorable when they are little.)
Here's a little video (a bit shaky) of Buffalo Bill motoring around his enclosure.
The installation begins:
I started by tracing my cardboard alligator template onto the wall so that I would remember to keep in mind that a large reptile will be anchoring the butterfly swarm.
Then I traced an outline where the cloud would be and laid the butterflies out on the floor to determine the arrangement. I used color and size as a guide.
|Installation 1 © Eve Lynch|
|Installation 2 © Eve Lynch|
|Installation 3 © Eve Lynch|
When I installed my last collaborative mosaic, the Messina Mural Project, I used a thin putty knife to spread the thinset onto the wall and onto the backs of the mosaics (very thinly!) I found the tool to be cumbersome so I scouted Hobby Lobby for something to use in its place.
I found this...
...it's a Wilton Straight Spatula made for cake decorating...and it is my new favorite tool. The blade is non-stick and does not get gummed up with thinset like the putty knife did. The adhesive spread like buttercream icing and made coating each butterfly a snap. (And it was only $6.)
Adhering the butterflies to the stucco wall was slow going at first...
|Installation 4 © Eve Lynch|
...but eventually I made progress...
|Installation 5 © Eve Lynch|
...and the design started to look like a cloud of butterflies!
|Installation 6 © Eve Lynch|
|Installation 7 © Eve Lynch|
|Installation 8 © Eve Lynch|
I have two other walls that I will be adding the remaining butterflies to once I finish here (so don't worry if you haven't seen your donated butterfly yet.) And the wall and surrounding columns will be touched up with a fresh coat of white paint to make the area sparkle.
Still lots more to do...including grouting all of the butterflies with black grout to make the designs pop. That should be a messy day.
Watch the blog for installation day 2 pics and info.