Wednesday, September 2, 2009

DIY Wednesday: Make easy paper butterflies

A few weeks back I did a post on making butterflies out of maps - not a hard project, but it can be time consuming to trace and cut butterfly silhouettes. Sarah over at The Estate of Things suggested a Martha Stewart butterfly-shaped paper punch from Michaels. But if you want to mass produce butterflies on the cheap, another option is the cut and fold method.

But first, why would you want to make large quantities of paper butterflies anyway? For one thing, it's a fun way to reuse interesting paper - stationary, a remnant of wallpaper, the Magna Carta - by turning it into wall art.

For inspiration, consider Paul Villinski's famous beer can butterflies, a stunning reuse of a pedestrian product.

My butterflies pre-date Villinski and were inspired by the store Mariposa at the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan. In 1994 I did an entire wall of paper butterflies for a friend in a Mariposa-style cloud. (This is Mariposa's wall of real butterflies, by the way, not my paper ones.)

So here's the quick and easy way to make hundreds of butterflies, demonstrated with used office paper.

Fold your paper in half longways with the funky side out (pretty or plain side in.)

Fold in thirds or fourths, depending on the size of your butterflies and your paper.

Cut half a butterfly shape at the fold. Don't fuss the details. (Some of this batch came out headless.)

Voila. A bunch of butterflies. Make more of varying shapes and sizes. You can stick them to the wall using thin wire and glue, pins, push pins, or my favorite ghetto adhesives - scotch tape or painter's tape.

Tomorrow I'll be posting some inspiring uses of used paper and maps, many of which seem to involve butterflies. Let me know if you've seen something great. Post a comment or E-mail me at bromeliadliving at gee mail dot com. (You get that, right? Encoded to fool the spammers, right? Say it - I am smarter than a spam web crawler. Thanks.)


  1. I love this idea and especially loved the ones made from the maps. i even went to my box of collage and decoupage "stash" and guess what? i've got maps! now all i need is time. ;)

  2. Nice.
    I just went trolling the local AC Moore for some of the feather floral butterflies, with no luck.
    I suppose I should bite the bullet and just make my own!

  3. hi there, i can't understand how did paul villinski stick the butterflies on the wall by mere pins. will it go through without getting bend? How could I stick the butteflies without damaging the wall, looks neat and wouldn't drop of after 2 weeks on the wall. :D

    thanks in advance for advice.

    would be great if you could reply me at [email protected]

  4. Sorry, I don't know. I used tape. :(

  5. how can i stick without damaging the wall ???
    + after some weeks the tape will wear off :( won't it ???