How to Make a Twirling Paper Butterfly

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Introduction: How to Make a Twirling Paper Butterfly

About: In a valiant attempt to keep myself from dying of boredom, I create.
I saw this here: http://www.youaremyfave.com/2012/05/08/wind-up-paper-butterflies-are-my-fave-guest-post-from-amelia/, on Pintrest.  The idea was wonderful, it reminded me of my Dad’s favorite April fool’s joke. He called it Rattle Snake Eggs.  I’ll have to do that one some time.  Anyway, it looked fun, but it seemed to have some problems that made me think that it just wouldn’t work well.  I make the changes I thought I would need and I created the paper wings on my computer using my Sure Cuts A Lot program and my Cricut Expression.  This is lots of fun.  It is meant to be put in a card and when you open the card, the butterfly will come flapping out.  Let’s go.

Step 1:

Supplies:
2, size 2 paper clips
Needle nose pliers
Tape measure or ruler (not shown)
Transparent tape
Mini black rubber bands (the silicon type for hair)
Card stock (your choice of color)
Black marker
Computer
Personal electronic cutter (Mine is a Cricut from Provo Craft)
Sure Cuts A Lot Program (I should inform you that Provo Craft and Sure Cuts A Lot had a court battle and SCAL lost, so it you have a Cricut, you can no longer buy SCAL, yet they do create programs for other brands of personal electronic cutters.  I bought mine long before the court battle so I am okay.)

Step 2:

Unfold the paper clips and make them as straight as you can.  Cut one 5½” long and the other 4 inches long.

Step 3:

Lower wings frame:  Take the longer one and at the very center of the wire, wrap both ends around the pliers, making a circle. 

Step 4:

With the pliers bend the two legs down, perpendicular to the circle. 

Step 5:

Make little s curves in the end of each wire.

Step 6:

Upper wings frame: Take the shorter one and again bend the very center of the wire into the circle, but don’t make it a closed circle.  Leave a tiny opening at the place where the wire meets itself.  Spread the two legs out for the top wings.

Step 7:

Take 2 of the largest black rubber bands

Step 8:

and first hook then into the circle of the upper wings frame. Then feed the rubber bands and the circle they are hooked to through the circle in the lower wing frame.

Step 9:

Hook the opposite ends of the rubber bands into the s curves of the lower part of the frame. 

Step 10:

Twist the upper wing frame to tighten up the rubber bands.  After about 20 turns, let go.  The upper wing frame should unwind.  Adjust as you need to, to make sure everything will move freely.

Step 11:

How take a minute and make the paper wings.  You need two upper and two lower.  I opened my Sure Cuts A Lot program and I over laid shapes, a rounded triangle and  2 ovals and then welded them together for the upper wings. I made the two wings symmetrical.   The lower wings were created using 2 rounded triangles and again I welded them together.  The first set of wings where too large.  So I went back and made them smaller, by selecting all of the wings and just dragging a corner of the box until they were the size I wanted.  Here is a pdf of the wings if you want them.

Step 12:

I then turned on my Cricut Expression and I cut the wings out of some card stock that I have.  I love my Cricut.  Did I tell you that?  What an easy way to make the wings. 

Step 13:

Take the marker and put line along the edges and vine lines on the paper wings.  Look at pictures of butterflies to get ideas.  (It looks like I missed one, crap.)

Step 14:

Lay down the butterfly frame and place the wings where they will need to go. 

Step 15:

Tear off a 1” piece of tape and tape the wing to the piece of wire they are closest to. Tape the upper wings to the underside of the upper frame

Step 16:

and lower wings to the lower frame.

Step 17:

Pick up the butterfly and twist the upper wing around, about 20 times, let go.  It would unwind smoothly, but a little slower because the wings are heavier.

Step 18:

Rewind the butterfly and put it in a card. 

Step 19:

Shut the card.  When someone opens the card the butterfly should flap around, when it is picked up, it will totally unwound.   Enjoy!
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    16 Discussions

    0
    dkhiggs
    dkhiggs

    Answer 5 months ago

    If you DO need the SVG file, it's not difficult to make. You're already a crafter so the learning curve should be flatter for you than for others who do not work in creative work. Inkscape (https://www.inkscape.org) is a free, open source, cross-platform SVG graphics tool.

    Free ... The only cost is whatever it takes to download and install.
    Open Source ... If you're inclined, you can access and change the programming.
    Cross-Platform ... There's a VERY strong chance a version exists for your computer.

    0
    Elieli
    Elieli

    6 years ago

    I made the butterfly but it doesn't fly well. It goes down, sorts a free fall. What can I be doing wrong?

    0
    KDS4444
    KDS4444

    Reply 6 months ago

    See my comment above.

    0
    craftknowitall
    craftknowitall

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    It doesn't actually fly. It just flaps around. Try winding the rubber band tighter. Good luck.

    0
    Elieli
    Elieli

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, I allready try that but it didn't work either. I saw a video of the real butterfly, and when you put it inside a card and you open it the butterfly flies up. I thought this would do the same

    0
    Jody.Grobe.Jeffers
    Jody.Grobe.Jeffers

    1 year ago

    I made one, but it seems like it's not "flying" very high, when I open the card. Where would the malfunction be? In step 14 and 17 the top DOES unwind when I am holding the bottom wings. But when in the card, when opened, the bottom unwinds instead

    0
    KDS4444
    KDS4444

    Reply 6 months ago

    See my comment above.

    0
    KDS4444
    KDS4444

    6 months ago

    If you want your butterfly to "fly" you need to take some extra steps. First, you need to tilt the wings so that they are oriented like the blades of a propeller on an airplane or a fan— if you simply attach them to the metal wires and don't tip them, all the butterfly will do is flop around. Second, you have to make sure that when you wind up the top wings, that you wind the correct direction— if you wind the wrong direction, the butterfly will attempt to fly backwards, which won't be very successful. Third, you need to minimize the butterfly's weight as much as you can. Every bit of metal is extra weight, so make every bit of it count. I am not certain you need to have two strips of wire going down each side of the twisted rubber band, for example. And the lighter the paper you use for the wings, the better chance the whole thing will have of actually getting airborne. Fourth, you need to make extra sure that the only things slowing down the unwinding process are the friction between the pieces of metal and the friction of the wings against the air as they spin. If the rubber band touches anything at all as it unwinds, it will slow down the flapping and prevent the butterfly from getting off the ground, as it were.

    0
    drundus
    drundus

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I love the way you help people make their own flyer. As a home school family we made some as a class project. It was fun. For those of you who do not have the time or ability to make your own, you can buy a butterflyer for a couple bucks at https://butterflyers.com/. They have a wide variety of different designs and models for every occasion (birthday, parties, Christmas, etc.)

    0
    jmiksanek
    jmiksanek

    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is such a great idea! I want to try making one. Could you post a pdf of the pattern that worked since it seems like the sizes of the wings are a critical factor. Thanks so much for posting this!

    0
    craftknowitall
    craftknowitall

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    The pdf is now attached to this Instructable. Thanks for looking.

    0
    jmiksanek
    jmiksanek

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you so much for going to the work to make this! Now I'm ready to try it out. Good luck in the contest!

    0
    craftknowitall
    craftknowitall

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    My SCAL program does not play well with other programs. It just won't copy and paste to other programs, and it won't save it to another format. So as soon as I can find a little time, I will recreate them in a program which will save pdf, and then I will post it here. I spent 2 hours trying it the other way and no luck. I will let you know when I get it done. Thanks for looking.