Sunday, May 11, 2014

"Lifecycle of the Butterfly" Inchies

Hi everyone…..started a new residency this week and we are doing a few Butterfly and insect related projects.

This is an inchie project that I have mounted on hardboard but could be done on heavy paper or cardboard. I completed this with Grade 1 and 2.

I have been doing a lot of these hardboard projects lately.

I wanted it to be 3D, (of course, that's becoming a trademark of my work).

So each square has parts of it that stick out.


- substrate (base) can be hardboard, cardboard, primed canvas, heavy paper. My hardboard is 12"x12".
- acrylic paint ( I used acrylic as I'm podging the finished piece, if you are not adding a sealer you could use tempera)
- 4 squares of wc or heavy paper like card stock. My inches are 4.5" x 4.5".
- 3 little glass gems
- regular white paper
- small scrap of card stock around  3"x3" but don't spend time measuring.
- white tissue paper
- tacky glue
- small scraps of corrugated cardboard and thin cardboard
- dried Lima beans
- sharpie
- 2 small goggly eyes
- piece of brown kraft paper
- plaster strips, you could also use papier mache
- I used a wood butterfly shape because I had a bunch but this could be cardboard
- piece of sponge to sponge on clouds
- black craft foam and hole punch for butterfly eyes
- printed text from the computer, EGG, CATERPILLAR, CHRYSALIS, BUTTERFLY
- Mod podge, optional


Materials Preparation:

So with every inchie project I start off by determining what size of squares I need.

The ones pictured here are 2"x2" .

For this project I'm working with Grade 1 and 2 so I know I have to go larger and because I'm only doing 4 squares I want them to fit nicely on the background.

I decided to use 4.5" x 4.5" as that looked the best on the 12"x12" hardboard.

We start with painting the backgrounds.

1 square a mix of  blue and white.

1 square in dark blue.
1 square in light blue.

1 square in turquoise.

Set aside to dry

We also painted our hardboards.  I gave them a choice of red, purple or black.

Set aside to dry.

Take your 3"x3" square of card stock. Now this is just approximate you do not have to waste time  measuring this precisely.  Each student just needs a piece around this size.

Spread some glue on the square.

Lay your tissue paper on top and scrunch in some wrinkles.  After doing this a few times with kids I find it's better to have them scrunch the tissue first and then lay it onto the glue.

I know the photo does not reflect this and I'll try to update it in the future.

Let dry.

Take some regular white paper.  Paint in a light green.

Take a small scrap of corrugated cardboard, dip into a darker green and print marks on top of the light green background.

To make the chrysalis take a piece of thin cardboard and cut into a teardrop shape.

When I do a residency I try to expose the kids to multiple mediums.

We used plaster strips to cover our cardboard but you could also do this in papier mache.

Cover the teardrop shape.

Bunch up some strips to form the caterpillar inside and place onto the teardrop shape.

Let dry.

Now I had a whole bunch of wooden butterfly shapes I had bought at the Dollar store last year so we used those and covered them with plaster strips.   You could cut out butterfly shapes from cardboard and do the same thing.

Again you could cover this with papier mache.

Let dry.

Take a piece of brown kraft paper, mine is about 4" by 10".

Twist into a stick.

Dry brush on some brown paint to make it look more branch like.

Let dry.

Take the glass gems, turn to the flat side and add a little white acrylic paint.

When your tissue paper covered square has dried trim away excess tissue.

Paint with green paint.


Egg Square:

Take the background square that is painted with both blue and white.

Cut a section of the green painted paper to fit into the corner of the background square. Save the scraps!

Glue into place.

Glue on the glass gems.

Caterpillar Square

Now technically the painting of the caterpillar parts should be in the material prep section but I did not want to lose any of the parts so we did this all at once.

Out of a scrap of corrugated cardboard I cut a small circle for each student (or they could cut it themselves).  This is the head of the caterpillar.  I then gave them 7 dried lima beans. These are the body segments.

I gave them 4 colours, (yellow, orange, purple, and red).  I told them they could paint the pieces whatever way they wanted. If they wanted to do a pattern they could.
Paint all pieces and set aside to dry.  This only takes minutes.

Cut a leaf out of the tissue covered paper.  Then cut a bite out of it.

Glue onto the dark blue square with the bite section facing the centre.

Add a strip of that green paper we prepped along the other side.

Now glue on your caterpillar pieces having the caterpillar trying to reach that leaf.

Add 2 goggly eyes, a mouth with a scrap of white paper, and feet using a sharpie.

Chrysalis  Square:

Take the turquoise square, add some clouds using the sponge and some white paint.

Glue the branch into place, trim to fit.

I took my plaster chrysalis that was now dry and added some watered down grey paint (a wash).

Glue it in place hanging from the branch.

If you still have some paper scraps you can add some leaves to the branch.

Butterfly Square:

Paint your butterfly.

Glue into place on the light blue square.

For eyes we punched 2 circles out of the craft foam and glued into place.

Glue your squares into place on the base.  We had a volunteer helping with the glue gun (adults only).

We then added the labels that I had printed out from the computer.

Add a coat of Mod podge to seal the completed piece if you wish.

That's it.

Here is some student work in progress.

Great work Grade 1 and 2.

See you next time.


  1. That is absolutely gorgeous!!

  2. Such a beautiful life cycle project! I'm featuring animal life cycles in a blog post -- may I borrow an image and link back to your post so others can see your awesome tutorial? Thanks!

  3. Love Love Love this! My girls and I are making this today. I will post pictures when we are done.