There is something so charming and timeless about framed butterflies but I prefer my butterflies where they belong: dancing around the lavender bush!
Put down your butterfly net and warm up your printer to make this faux butterfly shadow box. You don’t need a top-of-the-range printer, even a fairly average one will do. The trick is cutting out and bending the paper butterflies to provide the play of light and shadow around their 3D shape.
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- Reclaimed wood (from a pallet for example)
- Sheet of printed butterflies
- White cardboard
- Wood glue
Step 1: Make the wooden frame
To start, you will have to cut out pieces from the wood. There is no particular size here. Mine were 15cm (6″) as I needed a tiny frame for my bedroom gallery wall, but you can make the shadow box frame any size you want.
Next, you will apply wood glue to the ends of two of the pieces and assemble the whole lot into a frame. Clamp the shadow box as it dries. I had planned to cut mitered corners when I was measuring the wood then completely forgot about it… It wasn’t a problem since I was going for a rustic, raw look so I didn’t feel like angled corners were needed (my deep dislike of cutting mitered corners might have played a part).
Once the wood glue has dried, you can stain the shadow box. I used a very dark warm chocolate natural stain and applied a coat of glossy varnish which I rubbed off in some place, in keeping with the rustic look I was after.
Step 2: Prep the faux butterflies
For the faux butterflies, you will have to print a sheet of paper with butterfly pictures or drawings. Start by measuring the inside of the frame you built so you have an idea of the canvas size. I used Canva to create the right sized design and filled it with different sized butterfly pictures.
Now, grab a small pair of scissors (I actually used embroidery shears) and cut out the pictures. It does help to go slow to properly cut out the small details. Once you’re done, bend the faux butterflies in the middle to give them a natural shape.
To add some height, turn your butterflies over and apply a line of hot glue.
For the largest butterflies, I added antennas. To do so, cut inch long pieces of metal wire and bend them in the middle in a pair of pliers. Next, apply a small drop of hot glue near the “head” and press in the V-shaped wire. You can add a coat of black paint and let them dry.
Step 3: Assemble the shadow box
When your frame stain has dried thoroughly and your faux butterflies are ready, you can start assembling the shadow box! Cut out the white cardboard piece to fit your frame. It needs to be slightly larger than the inside of your frame. Glue or staple it to the back of the shadow box. Next, add a small drop of hot glue to the back of one butterfly and press on the cardboard. It helps to pre-arrange the butterflies so you know exactly where to glue them. Glue on all the faux butterflies and wait until the glue has cooled to add a picture hanging hoop to the back.