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Butterfly Mobile

This mobile is mounted on a base, but still has movement and would make a wonderful gift. This craft is Lesson 23 in The Imagination Factory archives where they discuss the works of Alexander Calder , butterflies and recycling.


Scratch paper
Rice paper or other
absorbant material
Lightweight cardboard
Wooden block
Thin, wire coat hanger
Pipe cleaner
Wax paper
Watercolors or acrylics
Floral tape
White glue
Paint brush
Water pan
Staple gun


The one shown was made by first painting a wet-in-wet watercolor. Before starting, protect the table by covering your work area with a layer of newspapers, and place the wax paper on top. Put a piece of rice paper on top of the wax paper, and soak it with clear water. Paint the paper with watercolors or acrylics, letting the colors flow one into the other. You'll have more success with this method if you choose related colors or ones which are next to each other on the color wheel. In other words, select reds, oranges, and yellows; yellows, greens, and blues; or blues, purples, and reds. Mixing colors opposite each other on a color wheel will result in an ugly brown! Also, use lots of paint, because watercolor painted in this way tends to dry lighter than it appears as you work. When you've finished, set the paper aside to dry.

Now you're ready to decide on the shape of the butterfly's wings. The easiest way to ensure that it will be symmetrical is to draw one-half of the insect on a folded piece of paper, much as you would a valentine. Keeping the paper folded, cut out the wings. Trace this shape on a scrap of cardboard, and cut it out. To make the bottom covering for the butterfly, lay the cardboard on the wrong side of one half of the painted paper. Trace and cut it out. Now lay the cardboard on the other half, and trace the shape. In order to cover the top of the butterfly neatly, you'll need to add a margin to allow for turning the paper and gluing it to the bottom.As shown, add at least 1/2" all the way around the shape. Clip this area at 1/2" intervals up to the traced shape, and set it aside.

Put a thinned coating of glue on the cardboard pattern, and paste it to the wrong side of the paper set aside for the top of the butterfly. Now, one at a time, put glue on each tab and fold it over so that you cover the edge of the cardboard. Glue the other piece of painted paper to the bottom of the butterfly. If you wish, gently shape the wings while the cardboard and paper are still damp. To make the body, paint the clothespin black. When it's dry, make a hole in the underside of the clothespin with a drill or awl, and slide it over the wings. To keep it in place, pack the underside opening of the pin with small scraps of cardboard. Select a dark colored pipe cleaner for the antennae. Fold it in half, and twist the center around the head of the clothespin to fasten it. Shape the antennae.

After the butterfly is finished, you're ready to attach it to the base with the coat hanger. Decide how tall you want the mobile to be, and use pliers to remove the hook portion and some additional length from the hanger. If you wish, cover the wire with floral tape, and bend it into a fun, spiral or zigzag shape. Insert the wire in the hole in the butterfly's body. Using pliers, bend the opposite end of the wire at a right angle, and staple it in several places onto the wooden block. If necessary, bend the wire to balance the mobile. Paint the wood a color which complements the butterfly, and if you wish, decorate the base with moss and dried flowers. Place the butterfly in a breezy area, and enjoy your art in motion! Look at the photo below for a demonstration of how you might shape the wire for your butterfly to flutter in the wind.

This craft is reprinted courtesy of The Imagination Factory.

Listed under:

Butterfly Crafts For Kids, Mother's Day Crafts, Sculpture

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Image of Butterfly  Mobile


Image of The Imagination Factory
The Imagination Factory

Listed by the American Library Association as one of the best online resources for kids, The Imagination Factory shows visitors how to make art using materials most people throw away. Some of the activities include drawing, painting, sculpture, collage, papier-mâché, marbling and crafts, and a special section for holiday art and crafts is featured. A Trash Matcher helps visitors find appropriate art activities for the solid waste they have available, and a feature called the Badge Matcher allows Brownies, Girl Scouts and their leaders to quickly locate art activities that help satisfy badge requirements.

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