The whole concept of felting in the round gave me ideas about how to play with the continuous and cyclical property of the ornament as a project. So I chose to portray one of my favorite life cycles. The Monarch from egg to butterfly. I had to first make sure I designated four sections/sides for the stages so I didn’t end up working my way around only to realize I hadn’t left enough space! So after outlining how much space I would need for each stage I began the felting.
The first stage is rather simple. The egg. I just put a stem and leaf so it would stand out more than just a single leaf. Although my mother, a kindergarten teacher who does monarchs with her students had to correct me. Originally I had put a handful of eggs on the large leaf. She informed me that in order to be true to the Monarch’s behavior I had to only have one egg on a leaf!
The next stages were more fun and difficult to felt. Monarch caterpillars are striped, so I tediously felted small thin strips of wool to a bumped up tube for the caterpillars body. I attempted to give it some dynamism by making the body curved and not straight and also tried to make it look like part of the leaf had been eaten, although I think that would’ve come through better if I had put some “holes” in it too.
The stage after this is where the transformation really starts to happen. The caterpillar curls up inside a chrysalis until the transformation is complete. The chrysalis was interesting because it had to be hanging from a plant branch and also be just the right shape and color. I’m really excited about how close to the real thing I was able to get. Also a little side note: butterflies tranform inside a chrysalis NOT a cocoon! This is a mistake I made for years. Moths make a cocoon not butterflies. A chrysalis is hardened protein formed in the pupa stage of butterflies, the cocoons are made of silk that moths spin around themselves. Here is my chrysalis:
Finally, the really fun part but also the most time consuming and detail oriented! The yellow background was the perfect choice to really let the bright orange and deep black of the Monarch butterfly shine! I put the orange shapes on top of a black base shape rather than work with an orange base shape and thin strips of black for the detailing. I’m not sure which method would be better or easier to be honest. Isn’t it beautiful! And the fun part is that if you keep turning the ball the cycle starts over again with this butterfly laying an egg.
My mother of course loved this project and suggested enthusiastically that I should do a whole life cycle series including other animals like frogs or chickens. I would love to do that, although I plan on taking a break to do other more simple projects before embarking on another one like this that took so much time and thought to design and implement. But keep following this blog and when I do eventually do the other life cycles, I’ll be sure to post them.