Introduction: Orange Themed (fake) Butterfly Collection

Hey you, do you like butterflies? Do you want butterflies somewhere you can see them all the time, but the thought of critters dying in the name of cool décor doesn’t really do it for you? Or maybe the dead bug thing isn’t the problem and its finding ethically sourced butterflies for an okay price that's holding you back? Just the price? Some butterflies do get really expensive… Well in any case, have I got the solution for you!

Here in this instructable I’ll help you make a fake butterfly collection where not only are all the butterflies life sized, but it’s also cheap to make and looks great. No dead critters required.

Step 1: Things You Will Need

- Colour printer

- 12”X12” Shadow box (Frame with a gap between the glass and the back)

- 12”X12” Card stock, commonly used for scrap booking.

- Smooth white card stock that will fit in your printer. In Australia we use A4 I’ve heard the American standard is different. I find 216 gsm to be a good weight.

- A glue gun

- Hot glue

- Normal glue stick

- 26 gauge black wire

- Wire cutters of some kind.

- Box cutter and/or scissors

- The attached PDF with the butterfly printables and the reference sheet.

Step 2: Printing

Download the PDF then remove all the normal paper from your printer and load the card stock. This is important. For whatever reason I find the printer is much more likely to have trouble feeding the card stock through if there’s normal paper under it.

Now make sure when you print the attached files called printable butterflies P1 and P2 that they are set to print at 100% scale. For reference, in this case true 100% scale is an A4 sheet of paper, but on a letter sized sheet it will trim some white. So it might give you a warning saying some areas will be clipped but just ignore it, there’s enough white space around the butterflies that it shouldn’t clip anything important. Other things to check is that the printer paper is set to photo paper and the print quality is as high as it will go. You will find these settings under the advanced section when you are getting ready to print.

It’s also handy to print the file called references, it doesn’t have to be on nice paper or be to scale. It’s just easier matching the butterflies to their tags when you have a physical reference. Bonus is you don’t have to worry so much about getting glue on your phone or computer.

Step 3: Cutting Out the Butterflies.

Cut out the butterflies, but don’t cut the tags yet. The tags have their corresponding wire measurement guides under them and if you cut them out before you cut the wire it will be harder to make sure each butterfly gets the right length antennae.

For cutting out the butterflies you can use a box cutter or scissors, whatever you are comfortable with. Get as close to the edges as you can and pay attention to the details. The little wing divots and waves are what makes these go from looking alright to amazing.

Step 4: Wing Bending

Bend the wings on every butterfly. Following the dashes like on the photo above, fold the wings so that they are raised from both sides of the body. You don’t need to crease the folds or anything like that, just a bit of a bend so they sit up on their own is fine.

Step 5: Now We Cut the Tags and Wire.

Cut the tags and the lengths of wire at the same time and keep them paired up. To cut the wire lay it alongside the black line under the corresponding tag, then cut the wire so it’s the same length as the line.

Now still keeping the tags and the wires paired together, fold the wires in half to form a “V” shape.

Step 6: Adding the Antennae

Use the reference sheet to match the butterflies to their tags and wires. Now pick a butterfly, put a dab of hot glue under its head and quickly press the base of V shaped wire into the glue. When the glue has cooled put the butterfly down with its tag. Repeat the process for the remaining butterflies.

Cut away any wispy bits of runaway hot glue as you go.

Step 7: Pre-glue Rehearsal

Arrange the butterflies on the 12”X12” sheet of card but don’t glue them down yet. I find it’s easiest to place the large butterfly in the middle and line the others up around it. Shuffle them about until you are happy with the placement and double check to make sure they all have the correct tags. There's no easy way to fix any mistakes you make once the glue goes down.

Step 8: It's Glue Time.

Time to secure them to the card. Starting with the large center one, put a small strip of hot glue along the underside of its body and glue it down to its place on the card. Do the same for the rest of the butterflies.

Now using the glue stick, glue the tags under the butterflies.

Step 9: Into the Frame It Goes.

This bit is pretty self-explanatory; you just put it in the frame like you would anything else. However I would advise using two dots of hot glue (positioned on the back of the top corners) to glue the sheet of butterflies to the back board of the frame. This will stop the sheet from falling or buckling over time.

Step 10: The End.

All done!
Now you can shelve it, hang it or give it as a gift (though maybe not to a hardcore butterfly expert. I did my best to name them correctly with reference books, apps and websites and to my knowledge they are correct but, I’m no butterfly-ologist) And if you really enjoy it you can even use this technique to make a whole collection of framed butterflies. Enjoy your new orange themed “butterfly collection”.

Care notes

These guys are much easier to care for than real butterflies but like most things they don't like excessive humidity or sunlight. So to make sure your collection lasts a good long while, avoid windows.

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