Monday 1 February 2010

Butterfly Tutorial - Magic Boxes

Thank you all for your heart warming comments.
I'm completely overwhelmed by your response to my blog candy. I'm now thinking that perhaps I should have only run it for a couple of weeks!

Quite a few have asked for a butterfly tutorial and as it links nicely to the blog candy - here goes...... 

I used a butterfly stamp I designed myself and stamped onto lightweight card using VersaFine Onyx Black then embossed with clear embossing powder.

Here's a list of what I used to colour them:
A) Sakura Black Gel Pen
B) Black marker Pen - I used Marvy Le Plume but any will do
C) Purple marker pen (any)
D) Blender Pen
E) Twinkling H2Os - Sky Blue
F) Watercolour brush

And here's what to do: 

1) Stamp the butterfly using Versafine and emboss with clear embossing powder - nine times.
It's a good thing to brush the card with an anti-static bag beforehand - this ensures the powder only sticks to your image.
2) Cut the butterflies out. If you're not happy cutting round the antennae a fine slither of black card folded in half and glued to the back of the body works just as well.

To stamp the reverse:
3) Ink the stamp again and carefully position the blank side of the butterfly onto the stamp
4) Firm it down using a second acrylic block or something smooth and flat like a glass coaster. Don't worry too much about achieving a perfectly aligned image, just do the best you can and I'll show you later how to 'cheat' it good.

On the embossed (top) side:
5) Run the purple marker pen round the outer edge of the butterfly's wings
6) Blend using the blender pen 
7) Dot purple round the outer edge again
8) Use the blender pen to soften the edges of your dots. These butterflies look more three dimensional if you don't colour in one solid colour. Make your first colour fade towards the body.

9) Colour the next section of the wings using Twinkling H2Os (Sky Blue) - applying it with a brush and not completely filling the areas to the edge.
10) Blend out using the blender pen.

Turn the butterfly over to the reverse side (not embossed)
11) Here's your chance to correct any wobbly stamping (on the reverse) - in stages 1 & 2.
12) Run the black marker pen round the edges of the butterfly - to cover any blank or missed areas
13) Tint colour across the surface, similar to the colours used on the front. This doesn't need to be perfect - it's only a hint so the underside isn't glaringly bare!

Turn the butterfly over again (embossed side up) to finish the top detailing
14) Now using the Sakura black gel pen draw round the top edges of the butterfly wings, the antennae and the body markings
15) To finish colouring - run the black marker pen round the very outer edges of the butterfly - otherwise these are white and very visible in the explosion.

Dare I say it? GLITTER

Even if you're not a glitter person glitter makes the explosion more dramatic - it catches and plays with the light as the butterflies dance, highlighting and drawing attention to their every flutter.
Glitter colours used on this box are:
A) Crystal (in the blog candy)
B) Black holographic (in the blog candy)
If you have no other colours these will cover every need - Crystal allows any underlying colour to shine through and black holographic is dark and rich, it makes a bold statement 'fizzing and sparkling' like fireworks in a midnight sky.
C) Is a colour I mixed myself. I had blue (which was not very exciting) and mixed crystal into it. Crystal glitter made it more sparkly and a little bit translucent so the underlying colour still hints through.

16) Apply fine lines of 'dries clear' glue on some, but not all, of the purple wing areas and sprinkle with crystal glitter.
17) Allow to dry then brush off any surplus glitter (be tough with the brushing). Always start with your lightest glitter and work to your darkest being last.

18) Apply fine lines of glue to the blue areas (not all) and the body (dots only) and sprinkle with the blue glitter mix, or crystal again.
19) Allow to dry and brush off the loose glitter.

20) Apply fine lines of glue to the body and curves of glue to the wing edges.
21) Sprinkle with black holographic. Allow to dry then brush loose glitter off.
note: I dotted glitter on the wing edges of the blog candy butterflies. Curves are much better so I'll be putting that right! When glittering always try to compliment the lines of the image.

Shaping the butterflies:
Gently curve the wings by placing your thumb on top and index finger underneath, one wing at a time. Pinch and move your finger to the wing edges several times. This warms the card and 'bows' the wings. Take your time and don't force it, rushing this stage causes creases to form.

Place your thumbnail along either edge of the body and fold the wings upwards.

Attaching to the acetate:
I attach them to the acetate using 'What Glue' by Jomil. It's a 'dries clear' all purpose glue. Apply to both surfaces and just before it dries fully clear press both surfaces together - it grabs like a magnet. This glue dries flexible so it has a much stronger bond when the butterflies are exploding from the box. 

That's it.

Hope it all makes sense!


  1. Great tutorial, Elaine, very clear. Your butterflies are just beautiful. One day I will get round to having a try at making a box!

  2. Thank you so much for this Elaine. You have made my day. x

  3. Wau - You make fantastic boxes! I like it!

    Hugs Rivien

  4. Lovely clear tutorial Elaine. Thankyou!

    Lesley Xx

  5. Great job on the tutorial! Perfection as always!!

  6. Thanks so much for this tutorial! I've made four boxes sofar, but only with flowers. Can't wait for my butterflystamps to arrive, so I can have a try...

  7. This is such an exceptional tutorial! Your butterflies are stunning. It was very nice of you to share this technique! Best, Curt

  8. Hi Elaine
    Thanks for your comment on Inspirational, it means so much to have good comments from someone who's work I admire as much as yours, and thanks so much for the tutorial, Only crafters would share such wonderful secrets!
    Much Love

  9. Hello!

    Thank you for this tutorial! Your magic boxes are such fantastic works of art and the butterflies are lovely!

    So many people wanting to win your creation! :<) I know I do! :<)

    Wishing you a Happy Valentine weekend!

    Barbara Diane

  10. Thanks for sharing your technique - you make it look so easy! these are just beautiful! is it 2/26 yet???!!!!

  11. Absolutely gorgeous butterflies!!! Thanks for sharing but I doubt my butterflies will be as beautiful as yours... ;)


  12. Thank you so much for this, and all the other tutorials! I've poured over your entire blog this last week and made my own magic box that I posted today, linking back to you so more people can see your work. Thank you for the great idea! Yours are just jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring art works. I have miles to go before reaching your skill level, but it was so fun to try! :)

  13. I love all your boxes. They sure are magic!

    I have something for you on my blog.

  14. Great tutorial, only thing I was not sure about was what you were doing with the acetate, but discovered it when I looked a your butterfly box tutorial. Your work is beautiful and anyone would be thrilled to receive one of your boxes.

  15. Hi Elaine, yet another stunning creation! Me and my friend Jenny love all your boxes and would love to know how you made the poppies in the poppy box. Thanks for sharing all your lovely ideas.

  16. Thank you for the tutorial, it's amazing how you came up with this box. Looks gorgeous.

  17. Hi Elaine, I just found you, but wanted to say Thank you for posting this tutorial! I love your butterfly box and it was so neat to see the way you created the butterflies for that awesome box!

    Have a wonderful weekend.

  18. I left a comment on the blog candy, but I absolutely must repeat myself. This tutorial is awesome! I'm impressed with your attention to detail on your magic boxes and feel blessed to get a glimpse of how you make the magic happen.

    Love, love, love it. Can't wait to try to put some of your magic to work on some of my projects.

  19. Elaine, Just changed the name of my blog. I'm following your blog. Would you follow mine? Then I can get directly to yours from mine.

  20. Elaine I just realised I hadn't commented on your wonderful tutorial! Thanks! I think I have everything except for the black holographic glitter!

  21. Amazing tutorial Elaine, thank you so much. I like that tip about the anti-static bag, I never would have thought of that.

  22. Elaine -

    Thank you for this splendid tutorial. I will most definitely give this a try. I love butterflies and yours just come to life!

    Elaine Allen

  23. Hello Elaine!
    I´ve post a small german tutorial of your boxes ( ) on my blog...hope it is ok...if you don´t want that,please let me know and i´ll remove it! ;o)
    thanks for your tutorials-i really love your boxes!

    xx Janina

  24. I have fallen in LOve with your boxes they are Stunning!!!!
    I really must try one! Could you tell me where I can buy the Jomil Glue from? Please. Can't find any on the interent.

  25. Thank you so much for this wonderful tutorial. I'm new to your blog so I will DEFINITELY come back.

    Scrappy hugs,


Thank you for leaving a comment I really appreciate you taking the time!
Elaine X