Making Faux Butterfly Art (And Checking Out Foamhenge)

Let’s talk about bridges, butterflies, and big foam rocks. Is anyone else getting a little “Beets, Bears, Battlestar Galactica” from that title (a la Dwight Schrute)?

Just me? Anyway, on Sunday we took Clara on a little weekend adventure. And one of our stops was a butterfly exhibit with all sorts of real live butterflies who were doing their thing:

And thanks to something that we picked up while there, I was able to make this new framed art for our built-ins as soon as I got home:

Wait, it’s not what you think. My little craft isn’t made from real butterflies. It’s actually cut from this information sheet we were given at the exhibit (I asked if I could buy it with this idea in mind and they said that they didn’t sell them but I was welcome to take the one I was given home with me – so nice of them, right?).

See, ever since seeing this post over on Little Green Notebook and a few cool faux butterfly shadow boxes on Pinterest (like this one) I was ready to try my hand at some faux butterfly taxidermy.

So my first step of the whole oh-heck-let’s-see-if-this-works process was to cut out the butterflies (the paper was double sided so I flipped it back and forth and picked out my favorites on each side. Oh and the little flier was laminated, so if anyone wants to try this at home, you might want to print out some small butterfly images on glossy photo paper and cut them out so they have the same butterfly-like sheen (or even get regular printer paper with butterfly images on it laminated at a place like Kinkos for the same effect). I was also thinking that folks might be able to get this look with realistic stickers from a craft store stuck to printer paper or cardstock and then cut out.

Oh and my cutting method was just to use my good sharp scissors and go slow. I wasn’t perfect or anything (and all of the antennas had to go since they were too thin to keep) but it worked out pretty well. And I was left with these babies:

They weren’t especially convincing at this stage. So in another fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-and-see-what-happens move, I decided they would look more convincing if I could get them to fold a little. So I very carefully folded each wing back like a taco:

When I released, they looked like this:

They were suddenly looking a lot more convincing. Then it was time to pad around the house to look for a shadow-box-like frame to use (something with some space between the paper and the glass so they’d have room for the whole folded thing). This old one from Ikea that was already sitting on our built-ins in the dining room fit the bill. And I had zero attachment to the green leafy print inside (an old Ikea poster) so I laid out my nine favorite butterflies atop the glass to play around with different layouts. I decided the three-rows-of-three approach was my favorite:

Then I just used Aleen’s Tacky Glue (it’s the same tube of craft glue that I’ve had since before making Clara’s nursery mobile 17 months ago) to adhere them to a piece of white cardstock that was cut to fit the opening in my frame:

All I did was dab it on the back crease of my butterfly (don’t be thrown off by the blue butterfly image that you see below – that’s the back since the flier was double sided)…

… and then I just stuck them in place (by eye, I didn’t measure but they look pretty good since I tweaked the spacing until I liked it beforehand, and then just glued them down):

I let them lay flat like that to dry overnight before attempting to hang them (I didn’t want them sliding or popping off before the glue had fully cured).

Then in the morning I put my little frame of faux butterflies right back up on the dining room built-ins:

I love how the white frame, mat, and backdrop pop with the moody teal paint behind them (sort of like how all of my other faux animal friends like Mr. Horse, Sir Rhino, and El Bird stand out).

And even if you get pretty close, they definitely don’t look like a free flyer from a butterfly exhibit. In fact I think they could fool my mom (which has been a measure of success for me since I was a tween).

And in case you were wondering where the heck this butterfly exhibit was, I’ll tell ya: Natural Bridge. It’s just shy of three hours from Richmond in Southwestern, Virginia. We picked it as a good little weekend activity because (1) we’d never been there and (2) it was a good place to meet up with John’s BFF Kevin (who’s currently teaching/in grad school at Virginia Tech).

The bridge was more spectacular in person than we had expected. If we understood the guide correctly, it’s what’s left of an underground cavern that collapsed on all other sides. It’s got cool history (involving American Indians, Thomas Jefferson and some “G.W.” initial carved into the side that may or may not be George Washington’s). So it’s totally worth the visit if you’re ever in the area.

Seeing the giant stone bridge was only a portion of the visit. There was also a really beautiful (though humid) path that we all hiked (well, Clara got strollered). It led to a scenic little waterfall, but our only good pictures from that spot ended up being of this butterfly (foreshadowing of the butterfly exhibit to come later, perhaps?)…

We also learned that we have a future geologist on our hands. Seriously, Clara was inexplicably obsessed with this rock:

Speaking of rock obsessions, these beauties in the gift shop did catch my eye. Everyone say it with me: “Oooooooh, shiny.” I didn’t take any home with me (the big ones I loved most were around $80-100) but mark my words: giant shiny rock fragments are the new coral when it comes to natural decorating accents, methinks.

And since we hate to ruin the illusion that we rank up there with only the classiest of travelers, you’ll be glad to know that we most certainly did not visit “Foamhenge” while in the area…

Sure, visiting an all-styrofoam full-scale replica of Stonehenge for free right here in the Virginia mountains a would be tempting for less sophisticated sightseers, but not the Petersiks. No-siree-bob.

And even if we had, we definitely wouldn’t have taken pictures with a life-sized Merlin statue that was constructed to illustrate one of the theories of Stonehenge’s mysterious creation. Please, give us some credit people. We’re mature adults.

Good thing Clara doesn’t have embarrassing parents, right? I’m sure she’ll thank us for being so poised and level-headed when she’s 16 and treasure this picture always.

So that was our little Sunday adventure this weekend. Gotta enjoy summer while it’s still here, right? Especially when you can score a free souvenir-turned-project in the process. Has anyone else out there made any faux butterfly crafts? Mobiles? Art? Jewelry? Tattoos? Foam replicas? Speaking of foam, someone else out there has to have witnessed the hilarity that is Foamhenge. Anyone…?

Psst- My BFF Cat is working on her three month old son Edison’s room, so I dug up ten of my favorite nurseries to inspire her over on BabyCenter. So much cuteness, so little time.


  1. says

    You did a great job! They look very real once you folded them and placed them so perfectly inside the shadow box. I have been really liking the butterfly stuff I’ve seen on the internet, so I did my own butterfly art using a butterfly taxidermy poster from Aaron Brothers Art & Framing store. If you’re interested, you can see it at LOVE your blog! :)

  2. says

    That butterfly display looks amazing! You can’t tell they aren’t real at all, and the folding really gives them some verve.

    Foamhenge sounds awesome. It’s a shame you didn’t visit ;) No, but seriously, I love tourist-trappy places like that; they’re so much fun! How did you even hear about that place?

    • says

      Haha, of course not. That would be ridiculous! ;D

      Oh! The other thing I wanted to say — I loved that scene. Jim and Dwight mimicking each other was hilarious. And now I can’t think of bears or beets without thinking “Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica.”

      You know, if you liked The Office as much as I did, you should be watching Community, too!

    • says

      Abed and Troy’s friendship is literally the greatest thing on TV ever. It’s the only male-male friendship on TV that I adore more than the Shawn-Gus one on Psych.

      Yeah, Community and Modern Family are probably the funniest shows on TV right now. Though 30 Rock is still the most quotable! Are you watching Modern Family, too? If not, you have to — the pilot is so-so but the show is just fabulous.

    • says

      Favorite character? Mine’s Gloria; she is hilarious and I love how much Manny means to her. There aren’t a lot of positive mother-son relationships on TV.


    • says

      Oh she’s fabulous. Sofia Vergara is amazing in interviews, too; she did a great one with Conan or Craig Ferguson a while back and she was funny and sassy and giving Gerard Butler a hard time. She’s amazing. In fact…

      Ah ha! Here: It’s worth keeping on in the background. She’s totally amazing, she talks about making it in Hollywood despite not fitting the “image” that people have, and about her son, whom she clearly loves dearly. It’s great, you’ll love it!

  3. Maureen in NY says

    I love this! I always liked how these looked but would never actually purchase one because of the whole dead butterfly thing. :) I am totally going to make this! And cool “Foam Headge” Place. I love kitschy places like that.

  4. lizkayl says

    Cute butterflies! I was totally tricked before you explained it. :-)

    I LOVED Natural Bridge (and Foamhenge). My husband and I took our first vacation together there, before we were married. And ate WAY too much.

    We stayed at the Natural Bridge hotel and their ‘brownie with hot fudge’- was an deep oval plate filled with hot fudge with the brownie lurking under the surface.

    It was a great trip! Did you see the caverns, too? I can’t remember if they were stroller friendly, I just remember cave temperature is in the mid-60s, so it was chilly.

    • says

      We didn’t get to check out the caverns because we worried that baby + sealed underground space that echoes could = bad idea. Haha. But she loved being outside and exploring!


  5. Amy says

    Watch out! Geologists are lushes. I should know … I’m married to one!

    P.S. Just kidding. Or am I?

    P.P.S. In COLLEGE they were all lushes. Not as much any more. Usually. :)

  6. says

    I love that! Great job! We recently went to a butterfly exhibit at our zoo and it was amazing. The experience was tainted at the end when a butterfly landed on my daughter and she freaked out and tried to kill it “death by stomping} and then one flew on my son and he followed suit. And now they are terrified of butterflies! We are working on it. The zookeepers must have thought I was crazy!

  7. says

    Oh, heavens. Butterflies are my nemesis (yes, I know that sounds ridiculous). When I was 12, my mom took me to the “Blooms and Butterflies” exhibit at our local conservatory with some friends for a school project. Apparently, there are certain people who give off a pheromones that attract butterflies. And apparently, I’m one of them. It’s one thing to have one of those cute little guys land on your finger for a few minutes – it’s another to have dozens trying to land all over you constantly. When mom caught up with me later, I was hiding under a cement park bench trying to get away from them. Alas, I’ve never liked them since – in fact, I will just say it – I hate butterflies and they give me the willys!

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