Years ago my dad died. I really struggled with this for various reasons. Long story short, one day I was sobbing, missing him something fierce and decided I should go to his graveside. I had to GO THERE to talk to him.
I don’t know what I was doing actually…it was just painful and I had to DO something.
Before my dad died …many times, actually, we had these talks about death, dying, God, heaven, afterlife, good vs evil and so many things and over and over I would ask him “Daddy, when you die, how am I going to know you’re okay? How will I get your advice? “How will I”…………… insert every other question I had for him.
The one thing he always said is “after I die, if I can come back and show you …and I’ll try like heck … you’ll simply “know.” When I pushed him farther it was “It will be big, I’ll have to think of how to make it big. Remember, we don’t know what happens when we actually die…. I may not be able to come back and give any signs… ”
I don’t simply “know” anything …it’s never “simple” and I complicate the hell out of everything so I didn’t trust him. I thought “typical dad, I asked too many questions and this is his way of shutting me up”
So, driving to the cemetery. I’m sobbing. Not the best way to be driving by the way, but, here I was going 30 mph in a 55 zone because I was…you know…crying.
I wasn’t 38 anymore. I didn’t have 2 kids. I didn’t just get married a few years earlier.
I was 5 again.
Scared of the dark, lost on my way home from school, terrified of this and that and being bullied in school.
My dad was my personal John Wayne. He slayed dragons for me. Maybe too many dragons…when I could have slayed my own. But I digress…
He was my daddy.
Gosh… this is bringing up all the feels.
Anyway…I started hitting butterflies. Butterflies smacking noises left and right all over my windshield.
Yep, hundreds of butterflies. Tiny orange and dark brown/black ones. They were a few coming in my car, they were in the gadzillions outside.
I pulled over because… well… hallucinations when sobbing HAS been known to happen…right? I mean, who expects gadzillions upon gadzillions of butterflies to be flying around?
Oh wait, they weren’t just fluttering around looking for flowers, they were flying from my left to my right, which explains why they were in my car.
I’m sitting there sobbing, confused about all these damned butterflies and it hits me…
It’s my dad.
Telling me “it’s going to be okay” “I made it” and “Here’s your sign”
And telling me in the biggest freaking way possible.
You can say what you want but at that moment it imprinted on me that it *might* be my dad. It probably wasn’t though. But there’s an innocent naive part of me that thinks and hopes that it was.
But at that emotionally charged snot blowing moment…I truly believed it was my dad and I started laughing.
Laughing in disbelief and amazement.
My pure pain and sorrow turned into pure joy.
I’d love to think my dad rained butterflies down on me to sooth my pain but…
Nah, it was a butterfly migration. I don’t think my dad had anything to do with it.
I don’t know what kind of butterflies they were. They were much smaller than a monarch and while they were pretty, they weren’t as showy as monarchs.
So. Many. Butterflies.
Google “Reche Canyon, California butterfly migration” and you might find more info 🙂
Since then I have loved butterflies even more than I did before.
See, IF it was my dad, then he would KNOW that butterflies were my THING.
I sang to this one monarch butterfly all the time. I didn’t know it wasn’t the SAME butterfly, because I was only about 7 at the time and I lived in my own little fantasy world and I sang to butterflies. It was probably many different monarchs, but to me, it was the same one and he loved me enough to keep coming back to visit and proclaim his love for me. It was a “him” because I named him “Fernando” …no, I have no idea where the name was from lol
What? You never had something like that? It brings a smile to my face, to know I have those memories.
I could be having the worst day, be in a bad funk and if I see a butterfly flying by it just lifts my spirits up. I smile. I don’t care if someone is there or not, I smile. It’s a wonderful thing, this butterfly love 🙂
And, if I’m having a good day…you know, just living life, chatting with a friend or my husband about …whatever…and a butterfly goes fluttering by, I will literally light up with joy and say “BUTTERFLY” … I think it annoys some people, especially when I interrupt them. Can you say #nofilter ??? Yep, that’s me. What you see is what you get.
I didn’t start this blog post to write about my dad and butterflies and “bright shiny things”
I started because I just finished up a months long project that has my heart.
Not too long ago I started etching – last year I think.
I started out etching copper and all it is, you take a resist (permanent marker, sticker, vinyl sticker…anything that will act as a barrier of sorts) and put it on clean copper, stick it in a ferric chloride bath and watch it for awhile…the ferric chloride is a salt, it’s corrosive to metals and slowly eats it away.
Here’s some copper ring blanks I drew some free hand stuff on. I was in a whimsical kind of mood, canya tell? It’s simple black permanent marker.
Everywhere there’s bare naked metal, the ferric chloride will eat away. Leaving me with a raised etching.
Here’s some etching samples. When I make stuff, I wasn’t thinking of “hey, these look like a great idea for blog posts later” … I’m usually snapping it and posting them to facebook because I love sharing this process!
Here’s the butterfly I etched. I pierced (piercing is A.) creating a divot in an area, then B.) using a drill press or my flex shaft, drilling a tiny hole so I can get a tiny saw blade through the hole and C.) using my handy dandy jewelers saw, and some strong optivisors, sawed out dozens of tiny areas to show off the butterflies markings)
After sawing out all the tiny holes (this took hours) I carefully sawed out the butterfly shape. By hand. With the jewelers saw.
This was too thin after etching to use alone so I sweat soldered the copper butterfly to a larger and much thicker sterling silver piece I had rolled through my rolling mill. It had an elegant feminine pattern to it that I liked. I thought it would be the perfect background for the copper butterfly.
I traced the copper butterfly and cut the shape out with a jewelers saw.
Again, I didn’t take these photos for a blog post 🙂
all sweat soldered! WHEW!
I had to clean it up quite a bit…so much work went into this.
I belong to a few groups on Facebook and not too long before this I posted a pic of a tiny guitar I had hand sawed out and placed a tiny 2 mm cabochon on and I was quite proud of it. However, someone in the group kindly said “I hate it when someone takes a beautiful piece and just drills a hole through it, I would have loved to have seen you NOT drill a hole and put a bail on it.”
little lot oversensitive and I take things way too personally. (Four agreements “Never take anything personally” is a miracle worker for me!!) but I also “heard” what she was saying once my little butthurt ego moved out of the way.
“Don’t settle for less”
“Don’t cop out”
“Take the high road”
So with the butterfly, I knew I had to make a @#^%!%$! bail.
Now, working with silver …sometimes you get this ugly crap called “Fire stain” and it’s a pain in the rear because you have to buff it out.
I use a micro torch and will continue to do so until we own our own house. Using a microtorch lends itself to a lot of firestain. It’s this greyish looking stain that happens when the copper content in the sterling silver rises to the top and a creeping “stain” kinda sorta comes along and …ugh. Google it. It’s fun stuff. I probably don’t have all my facts straight but pffft whatever, I’m self taught. Tim McCreight has some fabulous info on sterling silver ‘smithing.
You can use Firescoff to avoid fire stain …it’s pricey and works well but it’s not 100%, especially when using a microtorch. Microtorch doesn’t heat up like the other torches. It’s pretty much a bushy flame and bushy flame=faster oxidization which is where the fire stain comes from. I think.
With any info I give you here, it’s mostly my experiences. Trust but verify. Find out for yourself 🙂
I’m glad I put on my big girl panties and created a bail. It looks polished and “finished” and it looks “artisan” as well.
Here’s the back. I left it organic.
These photos show how I took some 14 g sterling wire, and after tumbling for a few days along with the handmade chain (more hours!) to get all the ends super smooth (I hate snagged sweaters from jewelry, don’t you?!!!) and I created “antenna” for the chain to attach to.
You can also see where I oxidized it and hand rubbed all the excess off, exposing the wonderful nooks and crannies of the etching.
I also took a punch and punched some areas that needed…punching. Tiny spots, just for delicate added design elements. Sometimes it’s hard to stop with the “design elements”
Sounds so pretentious huh? “Design Elements” … just hand me a 16″ long cigarette holder and let me sashay into my studio wearing an evening gown, right?
Here’s the finished chain.
Here you can see how the oxidizing solution settled into the crevices and created a rainbow effect.
Happy accident! I’ll take it!
You can barely see here, the delicate feminine design of the rolling mill imprinting on the sterling silver back plate.
Photographing jewelry is not one of my “things” … Here’s a photo on a piece of my favorite driftwood from the Oregon coast … inside on a cloudy day.
The photo on the right, simply outside under the porch overhang on my brick patio wall. I love natural backgrounds. Same camera, same settings. Just outside, is all.
The butterfly took months. I had to really think out the layers, the steps and parts of the process. The antenna took some doing, I just couldn’t seem to “muse” it for weeks.
There’s hours of actual hands on work put into this piece. I’m not keeping it because it doesn’t feel like it’s “mine”… but I’m hoping whoever gets it realizes that it is full of good energy, hand made and hopefully a family heirloom!!
You can buy the butterfly in my Etsy shop here >> Artisan butterfly necklace on Etsy
So, when you think of butterflies… smile. I’m not the only one that butterflies make happy. I’m not the only child who sang to butterflies. I’m not the only one who misses her daddy and “sees him” when she sees butterflies.
Don’t forget to encourage children to have magical moments. And, don’t be so uptight that you can’t have a few magical moments yourself. You’re never too old to have them or to create them.
Want to enjoy butterflies? Plant some milk weed 🙂 and if you are ever near Elkton in Oregon… you HAVE to see this (especially if you love butterflies!) Elkton Butterfly Pavilion
Til next time…