Arizona Desert Life
Arizona Wild Bird Photos

Before we get into the Butterfly Alphabet let's take a look at just who Kjell Sandved is and how this all came about.

One day years ago nature photographer Kjell Sandved was looking through a microscope at a tropical moth, when he suddenly noticed a tiny perfect letter "F" hidden on the wing. He photographed the letter and admired the print for over a year. Then one day it suddenly dawned on him that having found one letter there might be others out there. Could he find them all? He decided he was going to be the first to try.

He traveled to countries all over the world, from rain forest in South America and New Guinea to the jungles of the far East. Searching for butterflies and moths, he crawled on the ground, waded chest deep in ponds, looked into blossoms, turned over leaves and examined bark on trees.

Close-up photography became Sandved's hobby and joy, and he built his own specialized microscopic optical system. He photographed butterflies during early morning or late afternoon hours when cooler temperatures kept them inactive. He never caught them in a net or killed them. On moonless nights in jungle clearings, he attracted myriads of moths using portable mercury lights. During full moon this proved impossible. The moon seems to have a mystical attraction to moths....they all fly up, up and away.

Year after year he found one letter after another. Little did he imagine that nearly a quarter of a century would pass before he finally found all 26 letters of the alphabet and the numbers 1 to 9 with many to spare, enough to create three different alphabet posters and a book. He even found the word "HI" smiling faces, crying faces, one single example of the ampersand (&), bright red harts and enough animal shapes for his next book on faces and figures in nature.

About Kjell B. Sandved

During his 32 year career at the Smithsonian Institution, Museum of Natural History, Kjell Sandved has filmed excavations of Early Bronze-Age Man at the Dead Sea, penguins and seals in Antarctica, marine life of coral reefs in the Caribbean and Pacific, social behavior of the orangutan in Kalimantan and documented the world's largest flower, the vanishing Rafflesia arnoldi in sumatra. He delighted in lecturing with the Smithsonian Associates at schools and colleges around the country on animal behavior and nature photography. He has published two successful encyclopedias, The World of Music (13 languages, Harry Abrams, NY, US edition) & The World of Art and co-authored nine books: Butterfly Magic, Insect Magic, Shells, (Viking, NY) Butterflies, Rainforest and Cloudforest, ( Harry Abrams, NY) Leaves, (Crown, NY) and Bark, (Timber Press, Portland, OR.) Butterfly Alphabet, (Scholastic, NY, 1996) & in progress: Spiders in the Smithsonian...Life on a Silken Line.


To see the Butterfly Alphabet click here.