Monday, April 30, 2012

flower petal butterflies, part one

 I've had this idea kicking around the noggin for a few years now. Inspired by a day playing with kiddos and their love of tearing a part flowers. It reminded me of how much I too used to love doing that. I used to love unraveling all the petal pretty of a camelia on my walk to first grade. I would step outside to our front porch and walk to the side of the house where the camelia bush sat. Plucking the fattest, roundest bloom I could find, I would gently un-peel the whole thing as I walked up the road, around the corner, across the avenue, onto the park and over the bridge that led to Mrs. Foster's first grade class. If I picked the right kind of bloom, it would unravel the entire distance, leaving behind a much better suited trail than breadcrumbs.

This project is for four years and up. You know your kiddo best and if they are not one for sitting still for awhile with focus then this project is not for them. I have created three ways for you and your kiddo to create your own flower petal butterflies. You can always of course do this project with younger children, just turn the goal into the process not the specific symmetry of a butterfly. The idea for this is less about the finished pretty and more about the adventure of picking and selecting the flowers, looking at pictures of butterflies and searching for similarities in the prettiness of the petals. When you do this with your kiddos, concentrate on small moments and quiet making. Dialogue about the process, whether you are commenting on the texture of the petals as you release them from their stems, the back and forth motion of brushing the glue onto the cardstock, or the precise placement of petals in symmetrical form. There is all kinds of science that can be culled from this project. Take a cue from your kiddo and go for it!

*variety of flowers in a basket or bowl
*wax paper
*cardstock or precut atc sized cards
*mod podge or white glue
*small dish of water
*photo corners (optional)
*glue stick
*contrasting cardstock cut slightly larger than your base piece
*books and pictures of butterflies

Head to the library for a handful of awesome butterfly books. Try to find a few non-fiction titles if you can and give them a run through with your kiddo as you examine the anatomy of a butterfly. Take some time to notice the placement of the wings and the symmetry in their pattern. Ask questions to help your child take notice of a butterflies unique beauty. If you can't get to a library, hit the internet for some useful sites.

When you are ready, go for a garden walk in your own garden and collect flowers that have small petals that resemble the shape of a butterfly's wings. We used violas, geranium, ranunculus, tea rose, and lavender to name a few. You can also pick up a day old bouquet from a flower shop or market. Just don't start picking flowers from someone else's garden!
Once you have your flowers, set up a work space. Spread out a large sheet of wax paper, parchment or splat mat. Put your flowers in a shallow bowl or dish that has water in it to keep them fresh as you work. You can use a vase or jar but those are prone to tipping as little hands grab at the flowers. Working with your kiddo, disassemble a handful of flowers and let the petals and leaves scatter across your work surface for easier picking.
Set up you paintbrush and cardstock and mod podge. If you are using white glue, give it a little bit of water to make it easier for painting with. you can use any size card stock you like. We prefer the smaller atc sized pieces as they really contain the butterfly and look really pretty mounted onto a larger card. Have your kiddo brush their card with the mod podge or glue. Now it is time for making butterflies.
Beginning with the top parts of the wings, ask your kiddo to select two flower petals that are as similar as possible. We're going for symmetry here. Next, have them select the smaller bottom wings. Continue selecting smaller and smaller bits to decorate the wings. Dip the petals into the glue mix to adhere to the already placed petals, It may seem like they won't stick, but they will. Just don't fuss too much.
Once the wings are finished it is time for the body and antennae. We used the thin green leaves from some of the flowers and the thin petals of a flowering lavender. Set aside to dry. When they dry, you can add details to the cards with markers and/or colored pencils. Once yo uhave done that, it is time to press them flatty-flat. Enter your wax paper. Lay each card between two sheets of wax paper or one sheet that has been folded over and lay something super heavy on top. We used a cutting board and suitcase. Let them sit overnight.
Remove the temporary weights from your butterflies and admire how flat they got. Now it is time to mount them to another base. We used A6 sized cardstock cut in half and photo corners. To use photo corners, have your kiddo place a corner on each corner of their butterfly paper and then dampen the backs before centering onto a new sheet of base card stock. The smaller the base, the easier it will be for your kiddo to center. If you do not have photo corners, use a gluestick, it will do nicely.
Ta-da! These would make lovely Mother's Day cards for Grandma or Mom. They don't hold up as long as some other art work but if you keep them pressed for a few days they might. You can also spray with a fixative if you like. I haven't tried that yet, it might help as well.

Stay tuned for part two! More of the same but different.


  1. so beautiful Jessica, I just had to share your project in my quick roundup of simple summer craft ideas! thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Thank You, Rebecca! We had a lot of fun tearing the pretty petals apart to make these!

  2. My daughters and I had so much fun doing these today! Thank you for sharing with us! :) My oldest is 5 and my youngest is 20 months and they seriously both had the best time gluing down petals and designing butterflies. (I kind of enjoyed it, too. :))

    You can see their creations here: