Cardboard Art – 3D Butterflies

Truth be told, I’m not much of an artist. But I very much like to puddle about with paint and canvases and things and see what happens. A few months ago I saw a piece of art in a Pier 1-type store, with textured elements that looked like corrugated cardboard. I liked it and, of course, immediately thought, “I could do that!”.

So I puddled about with some paint and a canvas and some cardboard, and this is what happened.


You’ll need…

* Corrugated cardboard
* Paint in your chosen colours
* Canvas (this is really optional, as you could do the whole thing on a larger piece of cardboard)
* Paintbrushes
* Scissors
* Construction paper
* Glue


Getting started…

Firstly, you will need to take a piece of cardboard roughly the size of the canvas you’re using and remove the top layer on one side to expose the bumpy corrugated-ness underneath. This was not as easy as I was expecting and made a giant mess. It took me a good half hour or more to peel it all off – maybe set yourself up in front of the TV for this step.



Next, trim the cardboard down to the size and shape you want it to be. I used the canvas as a guide while doing this, which helped.



Lay some newspaper down and paint your cardboard with your chosen colour.


Now take a contrasting colour (I went with red) and paint the parts of the canvas that won’t be covered in cardboard. Be generous, in order to avoid missing any spots that won’t be covered. Let it dry.


When the paint on both the cardboard and canvas are dry, cover the back of the cardboard with glue and stick it to the canvas. I ended up peeling off the top layer of cardboard on back, so it wouldn’t be raised off the canvas quite so much.



Next I painted the sides of the canvas to (hopefully) give the illusion that the cardboard is wrapping around the sides.


Once all the paint is dry, butterflies! I made the largest butterfly with thin cardboard that I pinched from the back of a notebook. The smaller three butterflies are all made with painted construction paper.

The process starts off the same for both the large and smaller butterflies. Fold a piece of the construction paper in half and draw a single butterfly wing starting at the fold, like you would do to draw a symmetrical heart. Cut the wing out, unfold the paper, and you’ll have two identical wings. Cut down the fold to separate them.

For the larger butterfly, glue the wings onto your cardboard, with a small gap between them (as pictured). Cut out the whole butterfly (in one piece) and paint however you like. Be sure to paint the front and back, and leave it to dry completely.

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For the smaller butterflies paint each wing, front and back, and leave them to dry.


For the bodies of the butterflies use a thin paintbrush to roll a tube of construction paper and glue it in place. Hold it until the glue dries, so the tube doesn’t unfurl . Then trim each of the tubes to the right length for your butterfly wing sets and paint them black. Let them dry.

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 On the big butterfly, glue the body down in the middle of the two wings. On the smaller butterflies, put a strip of glue down the edge of both wings, and stick them to each side of the paper tube.

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Once the glue is dry, use a paintbrush to curl the butterfly wings to your liking, before positioning the finished butterflies on your canvas and gluing them down. Depending on the glue you’re using, you may need to prop the wings up while it dries.


All done! Hang it in your living room with pride! Or, if you’re not totally happy with it, hang it on the inside of a closet door or give it to a friend. I’m reasonably happy with this effort, so it’s going in the den.

Let me know if you attempt this project or if you have any other ideas for cardboard creations!








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