wind-up paper butterflies are my fave (guest post from amelia)

May 8, 2012

I had a baby so I’ve invited some fave guests to take over for me while I spend time with the little guy. Today’s post is from super crafter and cute mom, Amelia of The Homebook.

Photo 1
Growing up, I had an aunt who lived in Canada. Every year for my birthday she’d send me a card and a fancy little gift. She always found the neatest things! One year, when I was maybe 10 or 11, she sent me another card—and when I opened it up, a paper butterfly fluttered out of the card. It was magical! I was enchanted. I remember wasting an entire afternoon trying to make my own out of paperclips and a produce rubber band, only to miserably fail. I was convinced only Canadians could make those magical butterflies! Fast forward to 2012 and I found myself still thinking about them. But this time, after much research and diligence, I think I’ve finally cracked the code!

I made my butterflies into Monarchs, but you could use different materials to create any sort of colorful butterfly. I think a sweet floral paper would be so pretty for an invitation to a little girl’s birthday party.

Photo 2
Materials: You’ll need heavy cardstock, 24 gauge wire, silicone rubber bands (I found mine in the hair aisle at Walgreens) needle-nose pliers, scissors, tape, a paintbrush, a black marker, and a white ink pen.

Photo 3
Step 1: Measure and cut your wire. The wire used for the top wings will be 4 inches, and the wire used for the bottom wings will be 5.5 inches.

Photo 4
Step 2: Find the center of the longer wire. Wrap it around the base of your paintbrush to form a loop.
Step 3: Keeping the loop horizontal, bend the tails of the wire down vertically.
Step 4: Bend each tail in towards each other to form a hook to hold the rubber band.

Photo 5
Step 5: Find the center of the shorter wire, and wrap it around the base of the paintbrush. Instead of forming a loop, pinch the wire to form a circle, and bend the tails of the wire out to form the base for the wings.
Steps 6 & 7: Assemble the body of the butterfly. Wrap the rubber band around the top wire and set it in the center. Thread the rubber band through the loop of the bottom wire, and attach it onto the bottom hooks.

Photo 6
Step 8: Draw the shape of your wings and cut them out. You can make them as plain or fancy as you want. They don’t have to be perfect—be creative!
Step 9: Outline the edges of each wing with your black marker. Draw lines and doodles on the wings to replicate a Monarch. (Google image helps!)
Step 10: Use the white ink pen to draw dots on the outer edges of each wing

Photo 7
Step 11: Tape each wing to the body of the butterfly.
Step 12: Holding the body of the butterfly with one hand, use your forefinger to turn the top wings and wind up the rubber band. I found that between 40-50 rotations made the wire nice and tight. Be careful not to wind too far, or the wire might bend!
Step 13: Carefully insert the wound-up butterfly into a card or book. Whoever opens it will get a flutterly little surprise!

Photo 8
Thanks for the chance to finally figure out how these darned things are made, Melanie!

See more awesome from Amelia on The Homebook

143 Comments »

 
  • On May 8, 2012 , Vera said:

    Would love to try this, thanks for sharing!

  • On May 8, 2012 , sharon garofalow said:

    These are insane!!! Thanks for sharing! I can’t wait to try this!

  • On May 8, 2012 , Michelle said:

    My husband was just telling me he bought a Mother’s Day card years ago for his mom that had a butterfly flutter out. I’m SO excited to share this with him!!!

  • On May 8, 2012 , Gwynne said:

    I L.O.V.E this! I think it’s one of the most amazing ideas! Thanks so much for sharing your years of work! ;]

  • On May 8, 2012 , amy c said:

    amazing!! my daughter is looking over my shoulder and said, we have to make those mom. thanks for the inspiration. :)

  • On May 8, 2012 , Lena said:

    How amazing!!

  • On May 8, 2012 , Ylenia said:

    just found your blog and WOW! it’s so inspiring and pictures are really lovely!!

    Love, Ylenia from Longuette

  • On May 8, 2012 , amber said:

    This is awesome! I was just thinking of these butterflies the other day–I have only come into contact with the kind that are manufactured as promotional items (like you can get a slogan or something printed on them), and I hadn’t thought to look into how to make them myself! I was kind of wanting to include some in a package recently, and now I will be able to make my own. I think yours are super cute, but I have to admit, I nearly have a heart attack every time one flutters out at me (maybe that’s because they have always been used on me as practical jokes)! :) Loved this post–beautifully photographed as well. Thanks for the inspiration and how-to.

  • On May 8, 2012 , Trina said:

    Thankyou so much! I have never seen these before – how magical. i can’t wait to try these out on my boys!

  • On May 8, 2012 , Lizette said:

    They are so beautiful! My little boys would love these!

  • On May 8, 2012 , Jennifer said:

    This is great! I will have to try this!

  • On May 9, 2012 , Fresh Daily Deals at Waka Network said:

    So cute! I would like to try this at home.

  • On May 9, 2012 , Felicity said:

    No way!
    These are the ultimate in fabulous gift-giving.
    Looks like I’m going to be one busy bee making these fluttery flies for friends and family.

    Thanking you with a great big smile,
    xx

  • On May 9, 2012 , Anna H said:

    LOVE THIS!!! I’ve made a couple already. :) Thanks for such a great tutorial!

  • On May 10, 2012 , lisa said:

    LOVE these! i have never seen them before and now i want to make them for everyone! thank you!

  • On May 10, 2012 , clairetweet said:

    These are beautiful! Fabulous idea, and beautifully post too :)

  • On May 10, 2012 , clairetweet said:

    That last comment of mine made no sense! A beautifully photographed and annotated post too…is what I meant to say.

  • On May 10, 2012 , Muxster said:

    Video – is there any footage flying these?

  • On May 10, 2012 , michele said:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0PFsnm-ljU&feature=related video of basically how they work, they are so cool!

  • On May 11, 2012 , Happy Friday! said:

    [...] And this! [...]

  • On May 11, 2012 , Friday links | The Craft Blog said:

    [...] to make wind-up butterflies. Yes! Lovely and springy and make one for Mother's Day, why don't [...]

  • On May 16, 2012 , Margo said:

    These look amazing! Are these the tiny silicone rubberbands or bigger ones?

  • On May 16, 2012 , StampsNWhatnot said:

    This is very, very cool! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing!

    Jeannette Swain

  • On May 16, 2012 , suereal said:

    You are so FAB! I too saw one of these a long time ago, and have been pineing for them since then. Thanks so much ;D

  • On May 17, 2012 , Flash said:

    These are freaking amazing! Thanks for sharing the tute.

  • On May 17, 2012 , Brandi said:

    I love these I buy 5-6 when I find them in a cute store but to make them at home would be sooo much nicer! I can pick the paper, :). I sent one a few years back to a friend while at war in Iraq, after it scared them have to death (Didnt think about the fact they were on edge), they had hours of fun just fluttering it away. These would be great in wedding invites!

  • On May 17, 2012 , handmade charlotte :: How To Make Wind-Up Paper Butterflies :: design for kids and the home said:

    [...] charlotteHow To Make Wind-Up Paper ButterfliesYou Are My Fave posted a fan­tas­tic diy tuto­r­ial for wind-up paper Monarch but­ter­flies. Love!via [...]

  • On May 17, 2012 , Heather said:

    Thank you for this. We just made one for my son’s butterfly report for first grade!

  • On May 17, 2012 , Katherine @ The Side Stuff said:

    LOVE! So pretty and fun!

  • On May 18, 2012 , The Weekly Scoop | Kid Crave said:

    [...] Wind-Up Paper Butterflies – you are my fave [...]

  • On May 18, 2012 , Sarah said:

    Has anybody been able to get this to work? I’ve been trying so hard – for many hours! The 24 gauge wire seemed like maybe it was to fragile – the butterflies just twitched limply when “released.” So today I bought some 18 gauge wire (which is about twice as thick) and started over, but they don’t launch either. I’m thinking that maybe now they are too heavy. So I made a little one with the heavier wire, but it was too hard to work with. Sigh.

  • On May 22, 2012 , Nancy said:

    I am so happy to see this tutorial. I saw the butterflies a long time ago at a stampers fair by Green Sneakers but when I went to go look for them again the company was no longer so I could not get the directions or the jig that was created. Thank you for figuring it out because I will be making these babies.

  • On May 23, 2012 , Amy’s Notebook 05.23.12 | The Motherload said:

    [...] wind-up paper butterflies would be such a cute craft to do with the kids (@ You are My [...]

  • On May 23, 2012 , Elie said:

    I’ve been unable to get this to work too. Any tips??

  • On May 24, 2012 , Jamie said:

    Now that is something! Looking for summer crafts to keep my kids busy. Thanks for the idea.

  • On May 27, 2012 , Lydia Lund Brazeau said:

    I have tried these beautiful butterflies…awesome as they are I must be doing something wrong with these simple instructions because once they are twisted and I release the body they will not flutter away! Could you please thell me what I might be doing wrong. I too bought one of these at a card shop years ago and sent it to my sister…her granddaughters played with that thing till it fell apart. PLEASE HELP!

  • On May 27, 2012 , Meredith said:

    Sigh. does not work. I’m very disappointed. Perhaps it is the wire gauge. Or maybe the top wings need to be place very far from the body because the rubber band pulls the wings into an more extreme V.

    After some experimenting, it seems that the problem is the very first loop in the whole tutorial. It is very important that this is a smooth circle with no gap where the wires cross.

  • On May 28, 2012 , Libro de la vida con mariposas « Biblioabrazo said:

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  • On May 29, 2012 , Savanah said:

    These are beautiful! I love the idea of making fun things with out them always looking quite so handmade :)

  • On June 4, 2012 , cajunmama: (via wind-up paper butterflies are my fave (guest… « Tinned Pineapple said:

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  • On June 18, 2012 , farheen said:

    hey this butterfly is so awesomeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
    so nice color love it.

  • On June 18, 2012 , shereen said:

    hey dude this butterfly is so good.thanks for sharing such a wonderful craft.i didnt understand how did u get stuck that butterfly to the string ??? but never mind it is so cool and cute i just love it

  • On June 19, 2012 , Sarah said:

    this does not work very well if at all! =[ im very disappointed. needed to make about 30 of these for our church’s vacation bible school activity. im thinking it needs a thicker rubber band.

  • On June 21, 2012 , Vanesa said:

    I was so thrilled to find this!!! I received one for a birthday once, so I know the feeling you get when you open the card and it comes flying out. I wanted to send one to my niece but couldn’t find them anywhere. Now thanks to you she’ll get one for her birthday!!! You got it from your aunt, I got it from mine…it’s an auntie thing I guess ;P
    Thanks!!!
    (

  • On June 21, 2012 , Friday Fun pt 1 Making Paper Butterflies That Really Fly | Tree of Life Learning said:

    [...] make a butterfly that will flutter around your room for a few seconds. Blogger Melanie Blodgett, of You are My Fav  says her aunt, who could make the neatest crafts, sent her one years ago and until recently she was [...]

  • On June 23, 2012 , Janie Nelson said:

    I love these so much. I was not able to get them to work with 24 ga. wire but tried it with 20 ga and they worked great. My cat loves them. Now I am trying to figure out how to make a grasshopper that will spring out of a card. My sister would jump out of her skin.

  • On July 4, 2012 , Butterfly Card by Cathy « The Penny Black Blog said:

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  • On July 4, 2012 , Cindy C. said:

    Found your blog from Cathy. Amelia’s flying butterfly is so neat and cool! Thanks for sharing.

  • On July 4, 2012 , Susan said:

    I found your directions through Cathy Andronicou on the Penny Black Blog. These wind-up butterflies are wonderful! Can’t wait to try one.

  • On July 4, 2012 , Jan Castle said:

    Absolutely amazing….have to give this a try!
    TFS!
    Paper Hugs,
    Jan

  • On July 5, 2012 , sevenchickadees said:

    These are so delightful! Here are the solutions that I found: The loops must be smooth. This is essential! Make the length of the butterfly body = to the length of the rubber band you are using. I also used 20 gauge wire as a previous commenter suggested.
    My kids are fascinated, and I feel so victorious!
    Thank you Amelia!

  • On July 7, 2012 , Nikki said:

    Thank you for sharing! I’m a teacher and purchased some wind up butterflies from a greeting card shop to put inside the covers of some of the books in my class library! I have a big jar with a plant in (and breathing holes of course!) for my students to place any ‘book butterflies’ they come across so they can have a rest before fluttering back inside another book jacket the next day!! The kids LOVE it and it gets them hungry for reading too, but I’m going to try out your great design to make my own butterflies with much better patterns than shop bought, hopefully :)

  • On July 17, 2012 , Sian said:

    Amazing! I’m going to have a go at making some of these, they make me feel nostalgic :) Well done for working it out, and more so for sharing the technique :)

  • On July 24, 2012 , Lily said:

    You could drive a librarian crazy by secretly putting these in the books…but wouldn’t it be cool? Imagine an onlooker watch a four-year-old girl open a picture book as the little butterfly flutters out? I know I would love that… :D

  • On July 26, 2012 , Serena said:

    So, I love this idea, but the “Wrap the rubber band around the top wire and set it in the center. Thread the rubber band through the loop of the bottom wire, and attach it onto the bottom hooks.” didn’t quite make sense to me ! Would anyone be able to clariy that for me? :)

  • On July 28, 2012 , Jules said:

    Awesome, Thanks so much, I coordinate a special needs kids club and these are a perfect simple little craft idea that should delight the kids for hours!

    PS Serena, firstly thread the elastic through top wing loop you created secondly thread the other end through the top loop you created in the lower wing or body part, pull elastic little bit longer than both hooks at bottom and thirdly catch that end of elastic through each little hook on bottom

  • On July 28, 2012 , Jules said:

    I also cut each of my wings doubled by folding my card then placing long edges of my wing templates along the fold….seems to have made a more durable little butterfly

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  • On August 4, 2012 , Zoe said:

    Mom and I just bought one of these for a relative… I can’t believe you can actually make them. I’m definitely going to do this.

  • On August 8, 2012 , VinPro Elegance said:

    wow!! inspiring idea and beautifully post.Thanks for sharing

  • On August 10, 2012 , MrBang said:

    What my sister and I found out was that the horizontal loop (that the upper wire rides in) always has a bit of a hump where the wire overlaps itself. If you wind the “easy” way the wing wire will hit that hump on every rotation and lose momentum. If you wind the “hard” way (where you feel the bump of the hump with every wind) then the upper wire will have a smooth ride as it unwinds. It will either be clockwise or counter-clockwise depending on which direction you twisted your horizontal loop. One direction will always work better than the other. So try winding you wings the opposite way! We also used two rubberbands for additional tension. Good luck!

  • On August 16, 2012 , Update! & Butterflies! | So There's This Thing said:

    [...] have to add it to my long list, but it looks so fun, I had to share it with you all.  It’s How To Make Wind Up Paper Butterflies from Youaremyfave.com. The actual tutorial, however, is by guest author Amelia of The Homebook. [...]

  • On August 19, 2012 , Teggels said:

    Loved them used them as a science project cool

  • On August 20, 2012 , Amber said:

    :3

  • On August 20, 2012 , Jewell said:

    -.-

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    xscdrjnkm

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  • On August 31, 2012 , Stacey Wright said:

    cute idea niece has a birthday coming up will have to try this!!!

  • On September 3, 2012 , Duwani Yu said:

    I purchased these from hallmark many years ago for like $2.99 a pop. Glad you posted this and researched so now I can make them cheaper :) youre awesome!

  • On September 22, 2012 , Lesley said:

    how lovely… I have a friend who will love one of these surprises if i can manage to make one. Thank you lol

  • On October 13, 2012 , ambroziak said:

    man, i’ve made three of these now and not one has worked. i have no idea whats goin on. i think its sticking in the top loop. oh well. im not much of an engineer.

  • On October 18, 2012 , Melissa said:

    how neat!

  • On October 27, 2012 , Wendy said:

    I think this would be fun to make and put in a library book about Monarchs. Wouldn’t that be a fun surprise for some little one. I so want to be an aunt like your aunt. Very cool.

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  • On December 16, 2012 , Laura Miller said:

    This is wonderful. Thank you so much. I have printed out a bunch of butterfly wings so we can do this as a Christmas project.

  • On January 8, 2013 , Tori Johns said:

    Thank you so much I’m going to try this with 20 gauge wire since every one says it seems to work. I’m so excited I can’t wait for this week end for trying this and surprising the people I sit with at lunch :D thank you so much

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  • On February 4, 2013 , Scoutie said:

    Great idea but i cant get mine to fly they only spin witch sucks

  • On February 4, 2013 , Scoutie said:

    I want to make them for my mums birthday but they cant work ive teied for about 5 hours but i just cant get it to work

  • On February 5, 2013 , Scoutie said:

    Please help me

  • On February 11, 2013 , Melissa said:

    I tried making these, I dont know if my rubberbands were too short or what, but the 24 gauge wire just collapsed on itself. The rubberband pulled it into itself and it didn’t keep it’s shape at all. I can’t figure out if I bought the wrong supplies, or if I am doing a step wrong.

  • On February 14, 2013 , Peter Gumm said:

    What a lovely idea, thanks for sharing xx

  • On March 19, 2013 , peter ojo said:

    wow what a beautiful craft i love this

  • On March 22, 2013 , Anne A said:

    What an amazing craft project! I am going to buy all the supplies and do with a Sunday school class in the near future! Thank you for sharing.

  • On March 22, 2013 , Edwardo said:

    I got a birthday card way back in the ’50′s that looked like a wallet. When I opened it, out flew a a moth! The card explained why I didn’t get a gift!

  • On April 1, 2013 , Portia said:

    Hi, I have a problem in making these butterfoies too. I can’t get it to fly just like in the video someone posted here. It’s just a flop, and I really really would love to make one of these for my friends, siblings and niece. PLEASE HELP!

  • On April 3, 2013 , floral portraits are my fave | You Are My Fave said:

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  • On April 7, 2013 , Jen said:

    What a fun project, haven’t seen anything like it before. looking forward to giving it a try.

  • On April 21, 2013 , Laura said:

    I’ve made one of these today, and was fiddling around with it all day, but to my surprise, when i let go of the butterfly in midair, it flew for a short amount of time!

  • On May 1, 2013 , Carol Anderson said:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I found one and gave it to my granddaughter when she was 4.. I could not find any after that. She is 13 and has asked for another one several times.

  • On May 21, 2013 , Fantasia 2000 – Spinning Butterflies | Fun-Filled Flicks said:

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  • On May 22, 2013 , Kristen said:

    I made one of these butterflies for my daughter and she loved it. Thank you so much. If you’d like to see how ours turned out check it out here http://funfilledflicks.com/?p=584. Thanks again. Such a fun idea!

  • On June 18, 2013 , Grace said:

    Thank you. I love them; my father almost 60 yars ago send one to my mum. I only have the paper print and now I can make one by myself.

  • On June 24, 2013 , Rosa B said:

    Oh, that is just too cute! I love it! I’ll have to try it and send it to my sister! Thanks for sharing!

  • On July 1, 2013 , Edna said:

    would you please show this in a video, step by step/

  • On July 2, 2013 , Noreen said:

    Awesome! Thanks.

  • On July 12, 2013 , Judy Beckett said:

    Please, I need every step of instructions or video.

  • On July 14, 2013 , Laurie said:

    Our Girl Scout troop will be visiting the Texas Discovery Gardens in a few weeks where we will tour the butterfly house. This will be a wonderful art project to include!

  • On July 29, 2013 , Bettina Groh said:

    Wow!!

  • On July 29, 2013 , azteclady said:

    This is such a great and cute idea! Thank you so much for sharing your process with us.

  • On July 31, 2013 , Lois John said:

    What a great idea – I know my granddaughters will love them. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • On August 22, 2013 , How to Make Wind – Up Paper Butterflies | Let's Try Creating...! said:

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  • On August 22, 2013 , Olive said:

    Handmade gifts are always the best ones.
    I would love to make some butterflies for my collection, too :)

  • On September 3, 2013 , Samantha said:

    I LOVE IT. I live in Canada and can’t seem to find them anymore and have been looking to make some. I’m hoping to expand past butterflies into other thinks to accommodate the guys in my life. (I’m thinking dragons)

  • On September 6, 2013 , Jennica said:

    We were just at the General Mast store in Boone, NC and saw in the kids/toys section they had these! My daughter bought one for $2.99 but I remembered your tutorial so we’re gonna try to make some, too! Thank you! {and for what it’s worth, yours are much prettier!}

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  • On November 27, 2013 , Kim said:

    Thank you! I’m going to put them into the party invitations of my daughter. I love it!!

  • On November 30, 2013 , kelly said:

    Thank you so much for this idea! I saw it on Pinterest and showed it to my 13-y-o daughter and she’s made some for her brothers and has plans to make a lot more to mail to friends. She’s very happy about it and I’m glad that your instructions were clear enough for her to figure out without any help from me! I want to make them sometime too, but now she can show me how ;o)

  • On December 1, 2013 , david said:

    I love the way you help people make their own flyer. As a home school family we made some as a class project. It was fun. For those of you who do not have the time or ability to make your own, you can buy a butterflyer for a couple bucks at butterflyers.com. They have a wide variety of different designs and models for every occasion (birthday, parties, Christmas, etc.)

  • On December 1, 2013 , Tammy R said:

    I went to http://www.butterflyers.com and loved it. They have a lot of great designs like the catching fire flyer that my kids really loved. In fact, I like these so much I bought a bunch of Christmas Butterflyers to put in this years cards :-)

  • On December 15, 2013 , meg said:

    Thank you for posting. What fun and the ideas I have to do with these are endless!!!

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    http://bit.ly/LcHzEX

  • On January 24, 2014 , Alexis Commiskey said:

    I saw this through Pinterest and got SOO excited to send one to my grandmother in Vermont that frequently writes to me in Texas.
    I spent about an hour trying to figure out where I went wrong and why it wasn’t spinning at all. Two feet of wire, and six rubber bands later I have come to the conclusion that the original circle that is made has to be nearly perfect in roundness and that a little bit of oil is a TREMENDOUS help.

    All and all I think a little more tinkering and it just may come out well enough to actually mail it.

    I hope this helps anybody else struggling… GOOD LUCK!

  • On March 7, 2014 , Krystal said:

    Love these. Think my kids will too!

  • On March 7, 2014 , shawna said:

    My first one didn’t work so great. I can get it to spin, but when I put it in a card, it just flops around like a dying moth when the card is opened. Maybe if I make a smaller one?

  • On March 7, 2014 , david said:

    Or Shawna, you can do what I did and just but a wind up butterfly at http://www.butterflyers.com for a couple bucks each. they have a wide variety of selection and they fly awesome!

  • On March 21, 2014 , Candace said:

    I like the valuable info you provide in your articles.
    I will bookmark your blog and check again here regularly.
    I’m quite certain I will learn plenty of new stuff right here!
    Best of luck for the next!

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  • On April 8, 2014 , Tinku Bhardwaj said:

    Wow! If we see directly wind-up-paper-butterfly,not easy to make this. But if we see its construction. So everyone can make this in a easy way…

  • On April 10, 2014 , barbara macaskill said:

    WOW! These are amazing! I am going to be making thousands of these little wonders!! Thank you for the great tutorial and the inspiration!! Being able to send a working butterfly to my Meme who loves them is going to be so magical!!

  • On April 15, 2014 , daniel berzelius said:

    wow this is really amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • On May 2, 2014 , Mel said:

    My first attempt was a mangled failure!!

  • On May 27, 2014 , Fluttering Monarch Butterfly - The Artful Crafter said:

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    Hey Amber & Mel, If you love these wind up flying butterflys like I do but can’t manage to make your own, you can do what I (and other here) have done and just buy a few at http://www.butterflyers.com for a couple bucks each. They have a wide variety of selection and they all fly far and fast!

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    […] along with this tutorial, posted on You Are My Fav, and learn how you can make a butterfly whose wings actually […]

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    So cute idea!!

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  • On November 29, 2014 , Jerickjohn said:

    Thanks for sharing its really amazing!But the problem is it won’t fly. It spins slowly thats why it wont can you give any ideas how to fix it. I use the same main materials such as gauge wire but it spins slowly. I use super sticking glue for the wing.

  • On December 6, 2014 , A Subtle Revelry | 50 DIY Christmas Gifts said:

    […] christmas crackers | 2. wind-up paper butterflies | 3. chocolate bark | 4. chevron leather cuff | 5. gold-dipped notebooks  | 6. let it […]

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