Tutorial: Butterfly Shadow Boxes

I made these butterfly shadow boxes recently for a new diorama I'm working on and thought I'd share how I made them. 

If you're interested, keep reading!

Here's what I used:

-skinny sticks
-sheet of canvas (found in the scrapbook paper section usually with the textured papers)
-sheet of translucent vellum paper
-paperboard (you can also use recycled cereal boxes)
-hot glue gun and glue sticks
-two pairs of scissors (one strong enough to cut the skinny sticks and the other small and sharp to cut the vellum paper)
-acrylic paint
-nail file
-light colored scrapbook paper
-black fine-tipped pen 
-ruler (optional)

The first thing I did was Google images of butterfly collections and choose one to use. I tried to pick one with a variety of different butterflies and then I printed it onto the vellum paper. Then I carefully cut out several butterflies, folded their wings upward from their body, and set them aside.

Next I decided how big I wanted the shadow box to be. I didn't measure out each box but you could if you are into precision (which I'm not) by using a ruler.  I just eyeballed how big I wanted the shadow box to be and cut out the canvas and paperboard accordingly. I then hot glued the canvas to the paperboard using a glue gun. You could use regular craft glue but I don't recommend it because the wetness in the glue will warp the paperboard.

After I had the canvas/paperboard foundation prepared I cut the skinny sticks that would be the frame of the shadow boxes. I sanded their rough edges using the nail file and painted them with a quick drying matte acrylic paint. 

Once the paint dried I glued the skinny sticks onto the canvas/paperboard foundation skinny side down.

Now it was time for the fun part!

Adding the butterflies!

Using tweezers to hold the butterflies, I carefully applied a very small dot of the hot glue to the body of the butterfly and then glued it into the shadow box. I made sure not to get any glue onto the wings so they would "stand" up and wouldn't be flat.

Once the shadow box was done I aged it by rubbing it with the nail file.  I also made little labels using small strips of beige scrapbook paper that I scribbled on. 

Overall, I really enjoyed making these shadow boxes. Most of the materials I already had at home from other various craft projects and they don't require a lot of skill because I'm not at all mechanically inclined (there's an unfinished dollhouse in a corner of my living room that can attest to this). 

I'm thinking I will try making some beach-themed shadow boxes next. If I do I'll be sure to share them here.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Hello from Spain: fabulous tutorial. Lovely butterfly boxes. Your job is always awesome. Great doll. Keep in touch

    1. Hi, glad you like the shadow boxes! You always leave such kind comments. Thank you!

  2. Those are adorable! All your tutorials are! I love, love the stools! I can't wait to see what else you'll do! 😉


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