Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Clay Butterflies

Here is another clay project that I recently completed with Kindergarten, (I just finished a residency where I did clay with the entire school so there a few clay posts coming up).

I know it's a bit early for butterflies but it seems to be a standard Spring theme for Kinders and Grade 1.

Here are some classroom results.

They don't have their antennae yet.


- clay, if you don't have access to a kiln you can use air dry
- fabric placemat
- nail
- butterfly template if needed
- small cup of water
- texture tools, I use rubber stamps, buttons glued to corks, plastic forks, shells, etc.
- wooden skewer
- chinet bowl
- glaze in bright colors if you have a kiln, acrylic paint if using air dry clay
- pipe cleaner
- 2 small pony beads


If you want to use a template, trace out a nice butterfly shape onto manila tag.

Cut out.

I used templates with the Kinders.  My template was about 16cm across or about 7 inches.

Cut a piece of clay off your block.  Roll out your slab to about 1/2 an inch thick or so.  You want to work on top of your fabric placemat.

Lay your template on top.  It will stick into place on the wet clay long enough for the kids to trace around.

Using the nail cut the butterfly out of the slab.

When I first made this butterfly I scratched in the body of the butterfly with the wooden skewer.

I added 2 small eyes. Attach by making small scratches and then adding a little water with your finger.

When I did these with kindergarten I had them roll a snake and then add it to the butterfly shape for the body.  This turned out really well.

Some chose to just poke 2 eyes with the skewer.

Add some texture and designs to the wings.

Make 1 hole at the top of the head.  I know this photo shows 2 but you only need 1.  Make sure it goes all the way thru.

When you are finished with your design place the butterfly into the chinet bowl for drying.

Make sure to put the child's name on the back.

Place in a warm spot to dry.  Drape with plastic for 2 days to equalize, uncover and then leave for 10 days.

When the clay is ready do your bisque fire.

Glaze with bright colours.

If using air dry clay, when your clay is dry paint with acrylic craft paint in bright colours.  You can then add a coat of Mod podge or duraclear sealer to get that shiny finish.

Fire again in the kiln.

Thread a pipe cleaner thru the hole. Twist together.

Add 2 pony beads on the ends.

That's it.

I'll see you next time.


  1. Hi Gail

    Thanks again for yet another clay lesson with great step by step instructions.

    p.s. I used your 'scratch, scratch, water, water' mantra with the second graders this week.

  2. I love this project!! I did want to ask if you could make a suggestion for making this project stand up to the weather. Would you use a different type of clay? Would you coat it in polyurethane? I thought I would get small metal dowels or posts to put through the back, but wanted your opinion. We have a butterfly garden that we are dedicating in about a month and thought these would be a wonderful show there. Thanks for all your work!!

    1. Hi Eileen,
      If you are firing the clay in a kiln and using glazes they should hold up just fine outside. If you are using air dry clay with acrylic paint I would seal them with an outdoor sealer.
      Sounds like a great idea!