Introduction: How to Make a Framed Paper Butterfly

Picture of How to Make a Framed Paper Butterfly

I am very inspired by entomology displays and created this project as an homage to that art. This tutorial explains how to create your very own framed, paper Malabar Tree Nymph butterfly in life size scale. Don't be discouraged if you have never used a utility knife or created a paper cut before; this butterfly can be made with just a little practice and patience.

The materials you will need for this project are:
-Butterfly template found here
-A pencil
-2 pieces of 6.5” x 6.5” white cardstock cut from 8.5 x 11 sheets (keep the scraps!)
-1 sheet 8.5 x 11” colored paper
-Picture frame with an opening larger than 5.5” x 5.5” (I got my 6" x 6" frame here)
-A pair of scissors
-A hobby utility knife with two new blades
-Double sided tape
-Single sided tape
-Hot glue gun
-Glue stick
-Cutting mat

Step 1:

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1. Print out the butterfly template available here and cut along the dotted line with a pair of scissors.

Step 2:

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2. Using single-sided tape, tape the template in front of one piece of 6.5” x 6.5” white card stock around the edges.

Step 3:

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3. Put a brand new blade in your utiliy knife for precise cuts. On your cutting mat surface, cut out the peach sections of the butterfly. Be careful of where you place your fingers during this process, we don't want any injuries! If the paper slides around too much for your liking, tape it to the cutting mat. 

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4. It is okay if the cuts are not exactly precise; after all, no two butterflies are identical! Once a section of paper is cut out, “poking” it with the tip of the knife will allow for it to be removed easily.

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5. If a section is stuck, flip the paper over and see where you may need to cut a bit more.

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6. Once all of the peach sections are removed, change your knife blade – This will keep the cuts clean throughout the entire butterfly.  A dull blade could rip the fine details of the wings.

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7. Cut out the yellow sections of the butterfly with the utility knife.

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8. When only the black outline remains, tape your second piece of 6.5” x 6.5” cardstock behind the two pieces you just cut.

Step 9:

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9. Using a pair of scissors, cut around the outline of the butterfly. Be careful not to cut into the details you just cut out! If you need to cut wider than the template outline, that is perfectly fine.

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10. Discard the template leaving the two cardstock layers of the butterfly.

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11. Grab a glue stick and glue the detailed wing layer onto the solid wing layer.

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12. Fold the butterfly in half (detail side to detail side) and open the wings again to desired position – this will make the butterfly 3-dimensional.

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13. Using a piece of scrap cardstock, cut out a narrow oval shape approximately 2” tall by ¾” wide.

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14. Fold and bend the oval until it looks like the body of a butterfly.

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15. For the anntennas, grab a larger scrap of card stock. Using a utility knife, cut a strip off the edge of the paper as narrow as possible – the paper should curl.

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16. If you can not get the paper to curl, use a pencil and wrap the strip around it. Hold it in place for a few seconds and remove from the pencil. 

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17.  Cut two antennas from the curled strip as long or as short as you would like.

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18. Using a hot glue gun, glue the antennae to the inside of the body so they stick out the top. 

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19. Hot glue the body onto the center of the wings.

Step 20:

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20. Set the butterfly aside and grab the picture frame - I am using a deep shadow box style frame reminiscent of entomology displays. This type of frame will allow the butterfly to sit on a table or hang on a wall. You will not need the frame glass, so set it aside for another project. Trace around the back panel of the frame with a pencil onto the colored paper.

Step 21:

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21. Cut out from the piece of paper the shape you just traced.

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22. Using double stick tape, tape the colored paper to the front of the frame's back panel.

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23. Put the frame back together. 

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24. Hot glue the butterfly onto the colored paper inside the frame. I chose to center mine.

Step 25: Finished

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25. Success! Your framed paper Malabar Tree Nymph butterfly is finished. Hang a few in groups for a gallery style focal wall, place one on a table for an interesting accent, or use a large frame for multiple butterflies. To see more butterfly styles I have made, check out my Etsy store here


rayelove (author)2014-01-03

What a great idea! Can be used to match any decor ,great gift idea.Thanks

eatenbyzombies (author)2013-06-24

Thank you for this! I was looking for something classy, yet homemade for my daughter...this is perfect!

j_holloway (author)2012-12-12

I was given this as a gift! Looks beautiful in person too.

samalert (author)2012-10-15

Excellent cutting ........... loved the ible

Mrballeng (author)2012-10-10

You are my hero

ChrysN (author)2012-10-09


Pixie Puddle (author)2012-10-09

looks fiddly but such a fantastic result, :)

antioch (author)2012-10-09


shellycaron (author)2012-10-09

I really want to try this!

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2012-10-09

That is amazing! So simple and beautiful!

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