Modernizing a Butterfly Collection

Most of the time I try to stick to craft projects that involve paper like scrapbooking, card making, wall art, invitations, etc.   But todays project is not related to paper at all – it is all about butterflies!  And not even paper butterflies, this is about real butterflies! I don’t think I have ever mentioned where I came up with the name for this website, Birdwing Paper Designs, so here is a little background.

Many years ago (in the late 90’s to be exact) I studied Entomology (insects) and Botany (plants) at university.  During the summers I worked at Butterfly World in Kelowna, BC where I ran school programs, raised butterflies, and educated tourists.  It was a dream job!! Unfortunately, it closed down after my final year of school and there weren’t many other jobs where I could use my experience as a Lepidopterist.

When I decided to start a blog/website for paper crafts in 2011, I was thinking about names and wanted to acknowledge my love for butterflies in the name.  Then one beautiful summer morning I was driving to work and a name just popped into my head, “Birdwing Paper Designs”.  (The Queen Alexandra Birdwing butterfly is the largest butterfly in the world with a wingspan of 25cm and it is also my favourite!)

Queen Alexandra Birdwing Butterfly

And so, a website was born!

Birdwing Paper Designs Logo

Now back to the point of todays project – while working at Butterfly World I started collecting framed butterflies.  I have most of them decorating the walls of our home, but some were damaged and had mismatched frames, so they were tucked away in the basement collecting dust.

Modernizing a Butterfly Collection - Birdwing Paper Designs

I have always wanted to do something with them and when I found the perfect frame at IKEA, I knew it was time to modernize these butterflies.

Modernizing a Butterfly Collection - Birdwing Paper Designs

I wasn’t sure how to fit all eight butterflies into one frame, so I created a mock layout in Photoshop:

Modernizing a Butterfly Collection - Birdwing Paper Designs

Once satisfied with the arrangement, I added a neutral paper background with a subtle pattern to the frame’s mat.  (I guess I did use some paper in this project after all!!)

Modernizing a Butterfly Collection - Birdwing Paper Designs

Then the most stressful part came next:  removing the butterflies from their old cases without wrecking them.  Unfortunately, not all the butterflies survived this step.  One of them completely fell apart, one lost its head (which I managed to glue back on), and another lost its wings.  Now I was down to six butterflies and had to redo the mock setup in Photoshop:

Modernizing a Butterfly Collection - Birdwing Paper Designs

For 2 of the specimens, I was able to reuse the the little supports that they were resting on and glue them straight on to the background.  The other 4 were pinned in their previous frame, so I cut and glued little styrofoam cubes to the background and then pinned the butterflies to the styrofoam.  This step took a lot of gentle, steady movements and by the end my hands were so shaky and sweaty!

Modernizing a Butterfly Collection - Birdwing Paper Designs

Finally, I was able to place the mat and butterflies into the frame.  I had measured the depth of the frame before starting to make sure the butterflies would fit and was so relieved when I flipped over the frame and it had all worked out perfectly!

Modernizing a Butterfly Collection - Birdwing Paper Designs

This new, modern look to the butterfly collection is amazing!  I can’t wait to hang it in the office so I can enjoy these beautiful butterflies everyday!


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