Make Amazing 3D Paper Butterflies for Spring
These beautiful paper butterfly decorations and embellishments make for a wonderful spring craft project for both adults and older children to make. This how to tutorial walks you step by step through crafting up some of your own gorgeous 3D butterflies that have these rather amazing and gorgeous glitter edged wings. The completed designs can be used as pretty party decorations and also as stunning and professional looking embellishments for your handmade cards, scrapbooks, wall art and more.
I've been making up these designs for many years for my card making and we also have them dotted around the playroom which has a real Spring theme to it. The ones I've made here are made from soft cream and vintage style papers but you can make your designs up in a riot of colors as you please.
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How to Make 3D Glitter Paper Butterlies for Gorgeous Spring and Summer Embellishments
Materials and Tools Needed:
- Twine or thin cord for the antennae
- Pretty selection of scrapbook or decorative paper
- Extra Fine Glitter Powder to add sparkle
- Glue pen adhesive like Zig pens
- Glue gun or strong adhesive
- A Craft Tidy Tray – optional
Step 1: first you need to make lots of butterfly shapes from paper which can be cut by hand, punched out with a large paper punch or cut using a cutting machine like a Sizzix or a Cricut.
The link just above explains lots of ways to create butterfly shapes. Just bear in mind that they all need to be the same shape and if you make them too small, they will become harder to assemble. I prefer mine to be no smaller than 3-4 inches across from the tip of one wing to the other.
You will need 3-6 cut butterfly shapes to assemble up and make into each 3D version. The amount depends on how many layers you want to have on each wing. Four layers looks pretty good to me and that’s what I tend to opt for.
You can see from the image above that I use a variety of patterns mostly cut from scrapbook designs and there is also a Vellum paper which is partially see through as well. For something a little different, you can tear out sheets from unwanted books or magazines and use that as paper instead.
Using a Tidy Tray to Collect Glitter Powder Sprinkled Around the Butterfly Wings
Step 2: part of what makes these particular designs look so good is the thin layer of glitter added all around the edges of the wings. This is extra fine glitter which comes in little containers. You can try glitter glue if you like but that will probably make the edges pucker up and go wrinkly. You can always test on a spare piece of paper and see what you think.
Glue pens are ideal as the adhesive to use here. I prefer to use my Zig Glue Pens as I've been using those for years but you can use the brand you prefer. A glue pen allows you to draw the adhesive on with more precision which means that you end up getting the glitter exactly where you want it.
Use the glue pen to draw around the edge of a wing and, while the adhesive is still wet, shake over some of the extra fine glitter powder. Do this over a clean sheet of paper or, better still, a tidy tray which will catch the excess glitter and allow you to pop it back into the container to reuse it. Gently tap the back of the wing with it facing down to remove any particles that are not stuck fast. Repeat this for the other wing.
Adding Glitter All Around the Wing Edges
Step 3: repeat step 2 for all the butterflies that you want to add glitter to. You may want to just add this to the very top set of wings or you may want to add it to all the layers. You could use the same color or try different shades.
There are so many ways to make this really unique and it's about having fun too of course. What about an ombre look where you have light to dark shades of glitter in one color. Or perhaps a rainbow effect instead.
Drying Off the Paper Butterflies
Step 4: once you've done all your glittering and adding on the sparkle, you need to ensure every single piece of paper is dry before moving on to the next step.
I lay mine out onto big sheets of kitchen paper or towel or you could use a tray instead. It normally dries fairly quickly with Zig glue pens but it depends what adhesive you've used.
Adding on the Antennae Using Lengths of Twine
Step 5: the bottom layer for each butterfly is where you need to stick the antennae or the stalks as some people choose to call them instead. I opted for some natural color hemp twine but you could use cord which comes in a variety of color choices. Or perhaps you have some wire instead which would look different again.
Whatever you are using to make the antennae, you’ll need two pieces cut to the same length. A glue gun is my choice of adhesive but you might prefer to use something else.
Run the glue gun just down the middle where the body section is and press in the ends of the twine or cord as shown in the photo. Just be careful not to put your fingers on the hot adhesive, you can use a cocktail stick or toothpick to push the cord or twine where it needs to be.
Layering Up the Pieces of Paper to Make a 3D Butterfly
Step 6: now it is time to start layering. I prefer to use 4 different butterfly shapes for this but you can experiment and use more or less as you prefer.
For adding on each layer, I use the glue gun to add a strip of adhesive just down the middle section and then carefully position and add on the next layer making sure it lines up with the rest of the pieces. You get a sense of the 3D layering here and the vellum on top which you can partially see through.
Adding Final Decorations with More Glitter
Step 7: now you should have all your layers stuck together along with the stalks or antennae in place. The middle section where the body is can look a bit messy since that’s where we've been gluing so I like to add glitter over the top. You could also stick a dark piece of paper in a brown or black cut to shape over the top instead.
To add glitter, go back to your glue pen and draw all around this mid section between the wings. Then sprinkle over some glitter, tap off the excess and allow to dry.
When your design is dry, you really have just one more thing to do. This is to separate the wings to make the whole piece pop and look three dimensional. Just carefully place your fingers between each layer of paper and push each wing up. I like to push the top ones up quite high giving room for the other layers to spread out as well for a more beautiful layered look.
The Completed 3D Glitter Paper Butterflies
The extra fine glitter powders are gorgeous but they are difficult to remove from work surfaces and flooring if you spill them. The trick is to either use them over a large, blank piece of paper to catch the stray pieces or use a really handy Craft Tidy Tray instead.
A tidy tray will catch the excess powder and allow you to use a clean brush to sweep the glitter back through the hole on the side and into the jar or container. This way you get to keep your work area tidy and you also waste less glitter since you are reusing the bits that fall off.
This makes it all much more economical to use in the long run and especially if you just love adding in extra sparkle to your crafts. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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