Don’t you think butterflies seem like these magical out-of-this-world creatures? Their colours. Their fragile wings. The whole caterpillar metamorphosis thing that ends up in Peter Pan style chants of “I can fly, I can fly!”.

I also love taxidermy butterfly cases for this reason. However, I’m less enchanted by the idea that, well, everyone is dead.

So when I saw this butterfly illustration by Kelsey Oseid (Kelzuki) as a thick printed page in Flow Magazine *PING*: I had a lightbulb moment to make a faux taxidermy butterfly shadow box.

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I adopted a backless, glass-covered wooden frame out of my mom’s attic. I thought it would serve perfectly as a shadow box for my 3D butterflies.

I had been helping my mom KonMari her beloved junk. After I had so much fun decluttering my own stuff (you may remember discarding 1000 possessions, creative office declutter, project house), I moved on to declutter other people’s stuff. Even though the guru herself says you shouldn’t. But whatever, it sparks joy.

No joy however for this particular object: it was heading for the garbage. And although I am very selective these days about what I bring into our home, you know what they say:

One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.

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After cutting and glueing a 3D paper deer head a while back, I was on a roll. I thought: it’s time to add some more whimsical handmade DIY’s to our living room.

So I cut out all the butterflies to create a faux taxidermy effect. Initially I wanted to glue them all on sewing pins. But who needs new pins if you can also simply cut pieces of metal wire and created a little loop on top with a jewellery plier?

I carefully spaced my winged friends on a piece of foam board. Bending them slightly made them come alive. And with a glue gun the job was settled quickly.

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For a touch of colour and whimsy I painted the frame with a salmon-pinkish shade that we’d also used on a living room lamp.

However, I wasn’t sure if I would dig the result. And although they say you should take risks in art, I wasn’t ready to my ruin my new-found treasure. So I simply sprayed painted some paper tape, which I then applied to the frame. Sometimes you can find ways to make bold choices without suffering potential negative consequences. Life lesson learned.

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So there you have it. A simple DIY to make a faux taxidermy butterfly shadow box.

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Now I have my new butterfly friends to accompany me in my living room when my real ones aren’t allowed…

A way to bring a little bit of life and whimsy into my home, because sometimes you’re the only one who can.

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If you like butterflies as much as I do, you might also enjoy checking out these past posts: I made a glass cloche filled with butterflies before, I created a butterfly tie painting, and I framed handpainted butterflies for my whimsical art gallery wall.

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This also means that I checked off #8 from my creative dream list. Working on finishing touches on #9, so stay tuned!

Are you working on any creative projects lately? Tell me! :)


  • Reply

    Jackie N

    April 8, 2020 at 23:42

    I LOVE this idea! I, too, love those butterfly boxes but never wanted to kill them. I have wanted to make an art butterfly shadow box for years, and now you have inspired me to commit! What a cool art print you found to make it with! Question: how did you turn the frame into a shadow box? I love the pink color you added; nice touch!

    • Reply


      April 9, 2020 at 08:18

      I know right? So the frame already came with the glass, although it wasn’t attached. I simply glued the glass to the frame on the inside with a glue gun. Probably not the best method, but sticky enough to hold and I could probably still detach it with a knife or something if I’d ever want to. For the back, I simply used the foam board itself as the back. At first I wanted to cut wood to size and make a wooden back, and then glue the foam board to it on the inside, but that left me with very little wiggle space on the inside to fit any butterflies. So I ended up attaching the foam board directly to the frame. In fact, the board I used was just a tiny bit short on the sides, maybe 1-2 cm (half an inch?). So I cut 2 pieces from another piece of foam board to ‘close’ the sides. I glued those pieces directly to the frame, and then used paper tape to attach the pieces of foam board together (this so that I can still quite easily open it up.. for whatever reason). Does that make sense? Good luck with your butterfly shadow box! I would love to see it if you do make it! :D

    • Reply


      April 9, 2020 at 22:32

      Jackie, I love your comment! At first I was just going to comment on how this is a neat idea. And then I read your comment about not killing the butterflies. I’m ashamed to admit, but I never thought about how this idea saves butterflies! That makes this even more awesome!

      • Reply


        April 10, 2020 at 07:08

        Yes. I also need to admit that I actually own a butterfly necklace, made from a (real) lacquered butterfly from a butterfly farm in Thailand which I visited. I only bought it after they ensured me it died from a natural death. But looking back, I still wonder sometimes if that was the full story. I still love the necklace, but I’ve gotten a bit more creative with more crafty ways to add butterflies to my life since then ;) We live and we learn…


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