Butterflies of Wisconsin - Done!

I’m making a series of three native butterfly displays - Black Swallowtail, Yellow Swallowtail, and Monarch.

I really like how this first one turned out, but I’d like to get some advice on how to get the inlay to look more like glass. I’m cutting out “cells” on the wings with my GF and filling them in with iridescent ink mixed with glaze. But I’m wondering if there’s a better way?

I’m actually filling in the cells with a squeeze bottle with a tiny pinhole tip and that works well - I want the fill to be lower than the topmost edge of each cell wall (which I “paint” black with a sharpie). But what other type of filler (i.e. resin etc.) could I use that would dry up hard, look like glass, and hold the iridescent color. I thought about epoxy but I’m afraid it’d be too thick.



Here are the other two in-progress (pre-black sharpie that covers up the stray paint around the cells):


First of all, these are very cool, and I like them very much as is.

If I wanted to get more stained glass out of them I would probably look at inlaying colored acrylic cutouts or colored resin. If you look up resin stained glass on the forum you’ll see lots of examples (or at least a few).

Also I might consider doing this in two layers, a cutout with a backing that is painted with a metallic finish or a first surface mirror (or even laser foil). The reflective metallic backing would probably make the colors pop even more.

There are lots of add-ins you can use in resin, mica powders, holographic glitters/powders, glow-in-the-dark powders, etc. Sky is the limit. The biggest issue may be bubbles, and you can mitigate that with a pressure pot or careful application of heat. You might want to look at @Whengeekscraft’s map projects to see the possibilities of really good resin color work, they’re masters at it. In fact, if they have time, I bet they would have a lot to add to this thread.


I like the mirror idea - I etched the butterfly outline on clear acrylic and glued it down so that my inlay fits (I was hoping that if I put it in a window the light filtering through would help but alas it didn’t). I also considered your idea of painting the acrylic and then laying the cutout on top - might come back to that.

I’ll look into whengeekcraft - thanks!!



As for the paints that look like glass:

  • Resin, easy but kinda toxic and/or requires some special equipment
  • Gallery Glass brand - faux stained glass paint is nice and thick and mostly no-toxic
  • Pebeo Vitrail - most realistic, used by many glass artists to paint on glass. Solvent based, toxicity much like other oil/enamel based art supplies.

Very cool project! There’s a lot of good ways to go about it, but resin was the first thing I thought of. I had this saved which is pretty similar.


To go with what @evansd2 suggested, mirror acrylic colored with alcohol ink is a really effect that I use on my shimmery acrylic puzzles: Wild n’ Funky Bright Acrylic Puzzles - Made on a Glowforge

If you don’t have mirror acrylic or alcohol ink, shoot me a message and I can ship you some colorful scraps to experiment with, I’ve got lots!


There are also colored mirror acrylics from inventables… They’ve got a whole rainbow.


@whengeekscraft just put up a video where they downsized their map project approach for a simpler Christmas ornament. For speed, they used UV resin mixed with pigment to get the color. This approach may work well for the butterflies.


I was called in three times in this thread so I guess I’ll give my two sense hahahaha

Inks will soak into wood so much. I would highly recommend resin for this. This is a perfect use of uv resin with SLIGHT PIGMENTS so you can cure it. Someone did link my video on the ornament, I would of recommend the same video.


That’s a familiar thought!

I think the resin idea sounds promising. I will be excited to hear what works best for you.

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That’s a great technique and I think it’ll work. His colors faded at the end so I’ll experiment with adding more dye, and the pearlescent tinting should work well. THANKS!!


My ink idea did exactly that - some disappeared entirely! Resin it is.

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Here’s the first finished Monarch with the ink and glaze - pretty convincing for wood!! But I can do better with resin.


Will a UV cured resin hold its color better? The butterfly idea above looks like glass (which I want) but the color faded a lot during cure (which I don’t want). Thx.

Finished first version of the Yellow Swallowtail…


These are so good. Keep it up.


Not sure what’s wrong with these. They are fantastic. I had to enlarge the photo as much as I could to see if they were real, and I STILL wasn’t sure they weren’t. Good job!


Beautiful work!