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Making a Prop Step-by-Step: Make a flapping butterfly

Ever need just the right prop to fill in that space in a song or skit?  The first place to go is the dollar store of course!  Sometimes you find a toy, or yard decoration that will work perfectly!  But honestly for me, it is rare that I find just what I'm looking for.  Usually I have to make my own prop.  But again the dollar store is the first place to look for materials, then I move up to "that large discount store" or hobby and fabric stores.

Today the materials I'm using came from the Dollar Tree.  I'm wanting a butterfly for my "love" song that I'm planning for the Valentine Banquet coming up and wouldn't it have been great to find one of those large butterflies they usually have around spring time in the dollar stores?  But it's not spring, it's still winter and even though I could see they were clearing out and making room for spring items, they didn't have any yard decorations yet.  So I picked up some craft foam to make my own.

After purchasing my craft foam at Dollar Tree and opening the package I was a little disappointed at the thinness of the sheets, but as you'll see at the end of this post, it actually worked out!

Supplies Needed:

  • Computer
  • Scrap Paper
  • Pencil
  • Craft foam
  • Scissors
  • White glue
  • Cotton swabs
  • Coat hanger or heavy wire

First start with a pattern. I usually use clip art or coloring pages as a start if I can't draw my own. And in this case I used clip art. I just pulled it right up on my computer screen.

Then lightly trace it with a pencil.  You don't want to scratch or puncture your computer screen so be careful. Now, I realize you could just print it out if you'd like but I was out of ink for my printer, plus I can resize it easily and just trace it right onto some scrap paper.

Next I cut out all the pattern pieces and labeled them so that I wouldn't get confused when putting the prop together later. Then I laid the pattern on the foam, traced it and cut it out.

Cut two of everything. Make sure you add a little tab on the wings where it will attach to the body. You'll see this tab on the wings in a minute when we get ready to glue.

I chose yellow for the wings, pink for the accents and green for the body of the butterfly.
For the body, I didn't cut two rather I cut one on the fold.  That is going to eventually be folded down the middle lengthwise and glued together to hold the wings in place.

Lay out the wings and you are ready to begin working on the placement of the accent pieces.
(Note the "tab" in the center of the wings to use for gluing on the body later)

I didn't have any foam glue. No worries, school glue will work.  You just have to give it time to dry.  I used a cotton swab for application, but a small paintbrush or your finger would work.  The key is to just use a thin layer of glue from edge to edge. There is no stress on this part of the butterfly so just a little glue does the trick.

Glue all the pieces on one side, let dry and glue the other side matching placement. Let dry. Now we are ready to add the body.  Apply a thin layer of glue on the

Now we are ready to connect the wings to the body. IMPORTANT: Do not glue the wings inside yet!
We still need to glue the wire inside.  Right now we are only putting glue on the outside of the wings where it will connect to the body.  Fold the body in half and glue onto the wings.

Set something kind of heavy on it to keep it folded while it dries.  Here I used the glue bottle and my water cup. :)

Now we are ready to attach the wire.  I just used a wire coat hanger, cut it apart, straightened it into a long stick then bent one end into this shape with pliers.

Now open up the wings after the glue has dried on the body.  Apply lots of glue inside and insert the bent area of the wire.

Apply as much glue as necessary and fold the body closed over the wire.  Let dry.  And that's it!

Check out how the butterfly works.

This was my first tutorial but I hope to make more.  If you liked it or have any questions please leave a comment.  I'd love to hear from you!


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