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DIY Butterfly Study Shadow Box

True story: Back in 5th grade, I created my first room design board. I drew a diagram of my bedroom in a little notebook to plan the furniture layout, sketched out all of the decor and where I wanted it to go, and the theme was centered around one thing… butterflies.

No idea why I suddenly developed a butterfly obsession at the age of 10, but my mom was totally on board with my new plans by helping me pick out every detail down to the butterfly printed Limited Too inflatable chair and purple beaded butterfly curtains from Claire’s. Groovy 90s style, baby. (In hindsight, I realize now this whole scenario of my obsession with decorating makes perfect sense.)

So when I asked Olivia a few weeks ago how she wanted her new bedroom decorated, my mouth dropped when she asked, “Can I have butterflies, Mommy?”

Oh, my heart!

Immediately, I thought of a sweet little girl version of a Victorian butterfly study shadow box to hang on her wall. Except less gruesome since Victorians placed actual dead butterfly carcasses in picture frames.

I went the watercolor paper route instead.

DIY Butterfly Study Shadow Box

Supplies Used: (Some affiliate links are provided below.)

  • Butterfly graphics printed on white cardstock
  • Jersey size shadow box
  • White chalk paint and paint brush (I painted my frame since the shadow box I bought only came in brown and black.)
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks

A tutorial about how to make an inexpensive modern Victorian style butterfly study shadow box with free printables of watercolor butterfly graphics for a little girl bedroom. #kidsdecor #girlbedroom #girlroom #kidsbedroom #wallart #kidsart #kidswallart #butterfly #butterflies #butterflydecor #girlydecor #nursery

1. I painted my dark brown shadow box frame with a sample pot of Annie Sloan Pure White Chalk Paint since I couldn’t find any white ones large enough in the store. I scored the shadow box at Michael’s at 60% off. Woot!

A tutorial about how to make an inexpensive modern Victorian style butterfly study shadow box with free printables of watercolor butterfly graphics for a little girl bedroom. #kidsdecor #girlbedroom #girlroom #kidsbedroom #wallart #kidsart #kidswallart #butterfly #butterflies #butterflydecor #girlydecor #nursery

2. For the butterflies, I printed out these watercolor butterfly graphics on white card stock. You can download them to print yourself from the printable library (sign-up to get the subscriber link in your inbox).

(If you’re already a subscriber, you can click here to access it. The password is at the bottom of every email I send.)

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3. After I cut out the butterflies with scissors, I folded each butterfly in half so that they would look three-dimensional.

4. I laid out all of the butterflies on my shadow box backer board in the arrangement that I wanted (so that the same colors/sizes weren’t all clustered together).

5. Then, using a hot glue gun, I attached each butterfly to the backer board one at a time, making sure they lined up into rows.

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Once I popped the board back into the shadow box, it looked like the real deal! Only hundreds of dollars less than a real Victorian butterfly study and way more cheerful and modern.

A tutorial about how to make an inexpensive modern Victorian style butterfly study shadow box with free printables of watercolor butterfly graphics for a little girl bedroom. #kidsdecor #girlbedroom #girlroom #kidsbedroom #wallart #kidsart #kidswallart #butterfly #butterflies #butterflydecor #girlydecor #nursery

They add so much depth to this little corner in Olivia’s room now, and I swear it looks like something that came right out of a Pottery Barn Kids catalog.

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I added a few playful details to her dresser top too like this “I love you a bushel and a peck” sign (similar one here). My mom used to sing that song to me when I was little, and now I sing it to Olivia. It was just too fitting.

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And Olivia’s grandpa hand carved this rattle for her when she was born out of one piece of wood.

A tutorial about how to make an inexpensive modern Victorian style butterfly study shadow box with free printables of watercolor butterfly graphics for a little girl bedroom. #kidsdecor #girlbedroom #girlroom #kidsbedroom #wallart #kidsart #kidswallart #butterfly #butterflies #butterflydecor #girlydecor #nursery

I placed Robert’s first teddy bear (an original Snuggle) on top of the dresser beside my DIY butterfly terrarium too, and it all seems so right at home together.

Except those Shel Silverstein books are used every night at story time because Olivia absolutely loves his hilarious poems. (She’s memorized “Fancy Dive” by heart and recites it in the most adorably animated way with an emphasis on “wuarter” at the end.)

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I’ll be sharing the full room reveal of her bedroom very soon after a few final touches. You can see the full makeover from the beginning so far starting here.

Did you ever have a themey bedroom as a kid that you went totally nuts decorating? Or knew at the age of 10 what your real dream was? I’m still amazed at that.

If you want to save this post for later, you can pin it here:

A tutorial about how to make an inexpensive modern Victorian style butterfly study shadow box with free printables of watercolor butterfly graphics for a little girl bedroom. #kidsdecor #girlbedroom #girlroom #kidsbedroom #wallart #kidsart #kidswallart #butterfly #butterflies #butterflydecor #girlydecor #nursery

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13 Comments

  1. Hi Lauren!

    I signed up to get access to print out the butterflies but I never received an email. Is there something more I can do in order to receive access to the printables.

    Thank you so much,
    Danielle

    1. Hi Danielle! I’m so sorry you’ve having difficulty. We have been reworking our email delivery service this week, and it’s possible your subscription fell through the cracks in the process. I will email the pdf file to you to print along with access to the library. 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for this project! When I first set eyes on it, I knew I had to make this for my daughter. She loves butterflies. What makes it even more special to us is that it reminds us that there is everlasting life through Christ. When my dad passed a little over a year ago, butterflies started hovering over me, landing on me, even kissing my nose. I feel these visits from butterflies are a reminder of the love my dad has for us and that his spirit still lives on. This project has been so healing for me. It is symbolic of the changes in life and the beauty of nature. My butterfly shadowbox was so fun to make and turned out so beautiful! Thank you so much for allowing me to use your printables! I love your website and projects. Be blessed!

    1. Hi Ali,

      They are a printable from me that you can sign up for to get access to. The sign up is in the post and you can print them out on card stock.

  3. Such a simple and affordable piece of art! I love it!! It totally looks like something from Pottery Barn Kids that would cost wayyy more. Nice job!

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