Papilio Zalmoxis by Martina Frank

10th May 2024

We know… it’s a mouth full! Here is what we can tell you about it:

Papilio Zalmoxis is the scientific name for the giant blue swallowtail, an African butterfly belonging to the Papilionidae family. The species is named in honour of Zalmoxis, a divinity of the Getae people from the lower Danube.

When you consider all that detail, maybe having such a complex name is rather apt! 

Shimmering wings of turquoise, seafoam and meadow green make the giant blue swallowtail a magnificent addition to the butterfly family.

Found in tropical environments, this superb creature is the second largest African swallowtail with a wingspan of between 12cm–16cm (4 ¾”–6 ¼”).

Needlework artisan Martina Frank from Switzerland has re-created this majestic insect in stitch using more than thirty shades of lustrous Au Ver à Soie, Soie d’Alger stranded silk.

This is a spectacular three-dimensional embroidery piece measuring 9.5cm x 14cm wide (3 ¾” x 5 ½”), which is a very deliberate and clever decision on behalf of Martina, as you are re-creating the Papilio Zalmoxis to life-size scale.

Once completed, you will marvel first-hand at just how large these butterflies are, creating an even greater sense of awe.

Here are a couple of quick notes and suggestions for you…

1/. – Martina has used the technique of couching existing stitches with a second colour to add the tiny spots and narrow lines of colour to the surface of the butterfly wings. Now that’s innovative!

2/. – If you’re looking for ideas as to how you can display your Papilio Zalmoxis, it would make a stunning brooch to wear out and proudly show off your embroidery.

Alternatively, you could frame it in the style of an insect specimen box, or use it as a beautiful home décor piece by attaching it to a wire and placing it in a vase or adding it to a floral bouquet

3/. – You’ll probably want to give your Papilio Zalmoxis a more user-friendly name. With pets, it’s always a good litmus test to imagine what it sounds like when walking the streets calling out ‘Papilio, Zalmoxis… come here buddy’ as if your pet’s name is too crazy, the neighbours might get worried about you!

Make Your Own Papilio Zalmoxis

We have all the materials you need to re-create this project yourself, from easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions to a Ready-to-Stitch kit with everything sourced for you.

Printed Magazines

Inspirations Issue 122

Digital Patterns

Papilio Zalmoxis – i122 Digital


Papilio Zalmoxis – i122 Kit

*Instructions – As this kit does not include instructions, for step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to Inspirations magazine issue 122 or the Papilio Zalmoxis digital pattern, both purchased separately.

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