thin cardboard (like from cereal or cracker boxes)
scissors that will cut thin cardboard
pencil to trace butterflies onto cardboard
paper butterfly to trace onto cardboard, in either one or two pieces
flexible glue like rubber cement or fabric glue
paint if you want to paint them; acrylic and brushes for detailed butterflies, spray paint if you want them a single color
Trace and Cut Butterfly Shapes
I drew a butterfly on a piece of paper (or rather half a butterfly and folded the paper to cut along the lines, ensuring that the butterfly was symmetrical). I used that butterfly as a template to trace butterfly shapes on the inside (non glossy) cardboard, then cut out the butterfly shapes.
The larger butterflies were made in two pieces; the upper wings and body were one piece, and the lower wings, joined at the middle, were another piece.
On most of the butterflies, I had the glossy side of the cardboard face the wall. I made one butterfly with the cereal box picture on the outside so it's more apparent that they're made from a cereal box.
Fold the Wings
I folded the butterfly wings where they attach to the body, using a ruler to make the fold straight. Then I took the ruler (see the pictures) and made bends in the wings in (roughly horizontal) lines that ran from the inside edges of the wings to the outside edges. This made the wings curve while the body stayed flat. The flat body is where you can put a roll of scotch tape to attach the butterfly to the wall.
If you're familiar with basic origami folds, the fold between the wings and body is a valley fold - the edges of the cardboard should be toward you and the fold should be concave. The folds radiating out from the body along the wings are mountain folds - the edges of the cardboard should be away from you and the fold should be convex. I drew pencil lines on the butterfly wings to show where the radiating folds should be.
You can leave these plain white or brown, or you can paint these any way you want. Don't worry if you're not artistic; these would be beautiful spray painted a single color. You can also try lightly brushing a sponge with some paint along the folds of the butterfly wings. The paint will collect on the folds more than on the flat areas, creating a pattern similar to the veins in butterfly wings (like on the blue and white butterfly).
If I were a company that, say, made clips to encourage people to upcycle cardboard, I might consider making small clips to attach the two piece butterflies together. I'd also include butterfly decorating stickers with the small clips... maybe colored dots, ovals, and teardrop shapes to put on the butterfly wings. I would also probably include a plastic template in the kit so people could trace butterfly shapes easily if they didn't feel artistic enough to draw their own.
Note: none of my butterflies are supposed to be accurate representations of real species. I'm aware that the orange and black one isn't a monarch. I like the wing shape and design I chose; these are just fantasy butterflies. Paint them any way you want.
Glue Butterflies Together
Once your paint is dry, glue the two piece butterflies together. If you have a kid helping you, he or she might have fun matching the top and bottom butterfly wings for you to glue. After the glue has dried, they're ready to stick to the wall.
I used scotch tape to attach the butterflies to the wall. I think they look great with a few different sizes. Thanks for reading! Post pictures of your own. :)
I made more butterflies today so I could have some pictures with better light.