Plastic Butterflies for the Garden

socalliegalJune 5, 2010

Okay last night I got the itch to make Butterflies for the garden...ones that will stand up to the life in a garden. All the ones I have bought for decorations always fall apart at the wing joints. I searched on metals, and of course you have to solder or weld...don't know that yet. So I searched under plastic and ah ha..found someone's article on a DYI webby. They basically made them out of large soda bottles as their source of accesible and free! They cut off the top and bottom and cut it down the seam side to get a flap of plastic. They had pushpinned it down onto a piece of board. They either had drawn butterfly shapes onto the plastic or the wood underneath I could not tell. Then they painted the plastic with buterfly colors and designs by layering the paints and looking at real photos for a guide. They made a body out of polymer clay. They sprayed the butterfly shapes with a sealer and then attached the body on top of the wings. They had painted on the side where the bottle shape is facing upwards so it gives a bend to the butterfly wings. They had also sandpapered first to give paint a base to stick to. Then they used the butterflies in various applications. I want them for garden stakes. I thought an even simpliar way was to copy out on paper color copies of butterflies and then glue/decopauge them on the underside of the plastic bowing. Oh before I forget it seems they had put a hard bend in a the middle of the butterfly. A sharp crease so to speak to bend the butterfly into it's two halves. Did any of this make sense? I am going to experiment at least today with cutting up a plastic bottle and some butterfly shapes. Anyone have any good ideas to make garden butterflies easily?

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Marlene Kindred

Wow....I don't have any ideas on how to make the butterflies, but I'd sure like to see yours if you get one made!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 3:07PM
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concretenprimroses(4B NH)

This sounds very cool. Can't wait to see your pictures.
I'm not quite clear on the body attaching.
I must caution you that decoupage will not last outdoors. My decoupage frogs on a painted wooden chair faded even on a covered porch. Just think of colored paper that is left outdoors and what happens to it.
Paint is the way to go for outside.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 4:51PM
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Yes Kathy you are absolutely correct. I have decoupaged baskets of flowers and water cans on some benches and they faded and look terrible.

So today I got a bug up my bum and wanted to try this out. I took a 1 liter coke bottle and cut off the top and bottom and slit it down the side to give me a flap of plastic. I then sketched out a 1/2 butterfly shape on a piece of paper. I creased the plastic in 1/2 and held it down against the shaped I sketched. I took a sharpie and drew the design onto the plastic and then cut it out. Since it was doubled it came out perfect. I then roughed it up with an acrylic nail file (it was on hand you could use sandpaper). I then the sharpie and then sketched in where I wanted the black edging and spots and then copied it to the other side. I took my orange acrylic paint and mixed some sealer into it. I painted it all orange and then took it over to my blowdryer as I was antsy for it to dry and found out by mistake that it will contort the plastic but I liked the effect. You just have to be careful you don't over due it. (Remember the plastic spoon flower project and the melting/bending). After it was dry I painted it with another coat of orange. At this point I could still see where I needed to paint the black, I then proceeded to paint in the black areas. I am leaving to dry by itself at this point. I have also painted a body shape into the crease area. I poked a hole in the center for a starter hole. I plan to take wire and make a spring and attach it to the butterfly and then to a garden stake of some sort. I was just looking at it again and I need to paint in some white areas like the real butterfly. I am going to varnish it with a brush, but I am sure you can spray varnish. Also I am sure you could add a clay body to the top. I am also toying with the idea of reverse painting so shiny side plastic is up. Will keep you updated as I go.

You should try this, it's pretty easy so far, and the best part is when you cut it while doubled it comes out looking perfect. Simple!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 2:36PM
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Was the DIY site Instructables? I saw that a while back, too and made some. It was really easy and lots of fun. My daughter is more artistic than I am when it comes to painting, so she painted them up for me. Instead of using polymer clay, we just folded the wings up leaving the body space flat. We discovered you can curl the wings however you want them so they look more natural.

Definitely sand the plastic first...but then just plain acrylic paint sticks just fine applied with a paint brush. I'll post pics if I can remember where I put mine. I wouldn't do decoupage for outside won't hold up long. Then again, as easy as they are to make, you might want to remake them every couple of years in order to have a new look in your garden!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 3:12PM
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It was a DYI page of some sort I should have bookmarked it. But after reading the instructions it seemed easy and I was going to do my own spin on it. My first prototype came out pretty darn good. I strung a few beads on the wire and used that a pseudo body shape on the topside. I was going crazy today trying to find my faux plastic gems I wanted to glue on the topside, along with a bit of glitter.
Oh and since they are so simple I still think I am going to try gluing onto the bottom side a photocopy of a butterfly.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 11:49PM
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There is a book out on this with a lot of patterns I think by Plaid. Soda Bottle Butterflies is what it is called, I think. GF that just left to go up to Deer Park has it. We made a bunch of them, used metallic paint on most of them.Another source of plastic is those tall cake containers that you get Bundt style cakes in or cookies in square plastic containers. That plastic is heavy & works great. You can use beads & wire to make body also. We painted both sides, could use wire to hang them in trees too! Have fun. Jan

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 2:31AM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

I found a link and they are very pretty. Hard to believe they are from soda bottles.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bottle Butterflies

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 2:12PM
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YES that was the page! Thanks so much for finding it! I did use some beads and wire and then I forgot to add this part above. I then used the remaining wire and spun it around a fat marker and then stationed it on an old garden stake that used to have a plastic pinwheel on it. The little wooden peg at the top was a perfect spot to fasten the other end of the wire. So I just popped it in a large bed of geraniums and the butterfly jiggles with the wind. Exactly what I wanted to acheive. My prototype I did in haste my following ones I will take more time on. However, I am very impressed with the prototype. Will try to get a photo.

Oh good idea on those other sources of plastic..THANKS!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 3:16PM
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Just a little update. I also made one using a large photocopy of a real butterfly. I glued the butterfly pic onto the the plastic while having a bend in the center where the body is. I then decopauged the heck out of it (several layers). I then put a heavy gauge wire through the center and strung some beads from my junk jewelry box(broken odds and ends collected)to cover the backside of the body and then made a spiral spring shape towards the top of the wire under the body and stuck it into a pot outside. Just another prototype to see how it reacts in the garden. I think next time I will try gluing the butterfly shape on the underside of the plastic.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 3:11AM
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I need pictures! I love the pictures from the site but I'd really like to see your decoupaged butterfly. What a great idea! TFS!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 5:05AM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

Pictures, we need pictures! I am going to try this soon.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 2:43PM
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I've decoupaged on the INSIDE of soda bottles and they have held up well.I know there is one still in my xmas stuff that i did when my GD was 12 and she's now 27 and the only thing wrong was the ribbon streamers faded some over the years.

The ones i do aren't butterflies,rather they are spinners.Cut off the bottom,and do your decoupage up inside,i used fabric,and aleens glue.Put one coat,let it dry,then added another coat,let it dry,then went over the whole thing ,again inside with blue acrylic to look like the sky.
I'll try to remember tomorrow to look for some pictures to show you.

I think if you decoupage on the underside of the butterflies they will be fine.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 1:24AM
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So many neat ideas, and beautiful butterflies. Hard to believe they were once soda bottles!

I've decoupaged some outside stuff, but after its had a few days to dry really good, I add several coats of a good Poly sealer to it. I like the spray stuff, by Helmsman. Says it works for outdoors. And it does IMO. Tho here, I still try to keep stuff in the shade as much as possible. Our sun is just brutal from June thru Oct. and its over 100 degrees every day.

hugs, Karen

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 8:01PM
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Yes I know I am bad about pictures. I am not a picture I wanted my b/f to take a picture of my first one but he is in Italy for a month now. I will have to dig out my digital cam and practice!

What I did on my last one was used Aleene's glue to glue the pic on top of the plastic and then decopauged it several times. I then used some glitter glue and did some dots on parts of the wings so those will be picked up by the sun and then added some large bauble beads on it's back area, just for more interest. It's holding up well so far. I want to try to glue underneath next time, but just have to empty another soda bottle!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 11:31AM
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