The initial inspiration for this project was the exploration of what magic might be created with the discovery of a very thin specialized wire as a highly flexible, virtually invisible drive shaft.

Then there came the happy accident of a Post-It note getting stuck to that wire and looking like a flapping butterfly wing. I grew up in North Carolina so the next logical step was sticking it in a Mason jar. Hmmm...

I did the engineering, electronics, art and wrote the software. The invention was awarded this patent.

In the software I created a language, a vocabulary of movement, and then randomized all the elements of that vocabulary. So when the Butterfly awakes from a tap to the cap it always behaves unpredictably, differently each time, until it goes to sleep again. One can also play with the Butterfly, as it responds with various behaviors to different patterns of taps to the cap.

The project is an ode to childhood and a celebration of these magical creatures. Perhaps, hopefully, even an inspiration for their protection. And yes... there are air holes (illusions) in the cap!

Known commercially as the Butterfly Collection, the product was manufactured and distributed by Gemmy Industries -- the same company that made Billy the Big Mouth Bass. They did an amazing job both in production -- true to my vision -- and also in sales.

The product would not be on the market today if not for the generous support and wisdom of Ron Dubren -- "Tickle Me Elmo" co-inventor and artist -- who opened doors and worked diligently to make it happen.

Interactivity Demo
Thanks to the person who posted this video