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DIY Butterfly Shadow Box With Free Printable

Make a butterfly shadow box with these easy DIY instructions and a free printable template. Customize this project to display your favorite butterflies as well.

Isn’t Spring the most colorful and joyful season ever?… I love Spring! When can you see so many different colors of flowers, green grass, and of course the magnificent scent of freshness in the air?

Inspired by that memory and the desire to be in it already I have created this cute spring butterfly shadow box frame with a cute free printable for you to enjoy.

You might also love these other Spring craft ideas: How to make Felt Flowers Easy and CuteEasy DIY Rustic Spring Wreath, and 20+ Farmhouse Spring Decor ideas.

DIY Butterfly Shadow Box With Free Printable Cover image with Title overlay

Paper Butterfly Shadow Box for Spring Tutorial

Mom bought some pretty flowers so I thought it would be such a cute decoration to place the flowers and the frame together.

Seems like Spring has a deep effect on us. With Spring comes the necessity of a change, clean, refresh, and of course something new. Spring seems to reveal the best in us because optimism and happiness flourish everywhere!


A shadow box is an enclosed, glass front picture frame that can hold and display 3D items that have value or particular meaning for people. These shadow box frames are deeper than the standard picture frames and are designed to store and display precious memories, and special artwork, or fill them up with fun items.

What types of butterflies can be used in a shadow box?

Well, although many people use real passed-away butterflies, that’s not the only way to create this beautiful kind of art. I much rather using faux butterflies. So you can put down your butterfly net and warm up your printer or cutting machine to make this faux butterfly shadow box.

You can print hi-res real butterfly pictures and cut them out, so they would look very real.

You can also make different types of paper butterflies, origami butterflies, fabric butterflies, and so much more.

Ultimately, you can just buy faux butterflies in craft stores that will most likely look very real too. It will depend on what you want to accomplish.

What type of backing do you use for a butterfly shadow box?

Although I share a free printable for this project, you can use any backing you want. I love the look of burlap as your backing for a more rustic look, also linen looks so pretty.

You can print other types of patterns, use old book pages, and fabric scraps, or just a white cardboard piece just to name a few.

How do you secure a butterfly in a shadow box?

I’m not an expert, but when it comes to real butterflies, they seem to use pins. BUT for faux butterflies, there are many ways, you can use hot glue, universal glue, double-sided tape, and pins, among other ideas.

How to Make a Faux Butterfly Shadow Box

Hope you like this little cute project!

Quick Note: You don’t need to have a cutting machine for this project. This butterfly was easy enough to cut by hand and you can find plenty of images and butterfly templates on the internet. So don’t let this stop you.

Butterfly Shadow Box Supplies:

  • This free Printable
  • White cardstock
  • Patterned cardstock (Scrapbook paper, embossed paper, etc)
  • A shadow box frame or a deep picture frame (I used a Ribba frame from IKEA)
  • Glue or double-sided tape.
  • Scissors or cutting knife
Butterfly Shadow Box Supplies with 3D Ribba frame and free printable view


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Prepping the design

First of all, I designed the printable based on the measures of the frame. Since it was a little bigger than regular paper, I made a frame like a mat board so I could print it home.

For the design, I used some cute flowers and stems from the creative guys of freepik.com.

I left a big space in the center of the design to place there the paper butterflies. I wrote, “I’m so ready for you Spring”. Once was ready, I Printed it.

Remember that each printer is different. In my case, I use Epson L355. I set my design page for a 21.5×21.5 cm {8.5×8.5 Inches} but my actual visible design is 19.5×19.5 cm {7.6×7.6 In}.

I set up my page in the printer so it would leave only a 0.2 cm {0.08 inch} margin on every side and didn’t check “fit to page”.

Then based on my printable measures and using as a reference the layout that comes with the frame (hat paper with a design that comes in the frames) I cut a square of white cardstock piece and then cut out another square from the center of 19.5×19.5 cm {7.6×7.6 In} to create my own passe-partout. 

view of free pintable and the Ribba frame for the Butterfly Shadow Box

Put them together and with tape, I secure them on the back.

Creating cute faux butterflies

Then in my Silhouette Studio, I cut this pretty butterfly from the silhouette store in the same measures as the space I let in the printable.

Silhouette Cameo cutting the paper butterfly

I decided to make only one big paper butterfly but you can make as many as you like.

 paper butterfly view on paper cut

The trick is cutting out and bending the paper butterflies to provide the play of light and shadow around their 3D shape.

Using a round object like a thick marker, you can bend and shape the butterflies wings to make them look more 3D.

Getting the Butterfly Art ready

Then I placed some strips of double-sided tape on the back of the butterfly, only on those places that will be securing the butterfly to the paper.

You can use a hot glue gun and apply a line of hot glue to those areas.

Some strips of double sided tape on the back of the butterfly

Decided on the perfect place and secure it.

placing the butterfly on printable for the Butterfly Shadow Box

Tadaaaa!!! Cute right?

 butterfly art ready for Butterfly Shadow Box

My design was meant to be simple and very paper-based. However, if you want to take it to another level, get your largest butterflies and add cute antennas by cutting inch-long pieces of metal wire and bending them in the middle with a pair of pliers.

Next, apply a small drop of hot glue near the “head” and press in the V-shaped wire.

It will look so freakin’ cute!

Anyway moving on…

Assembling the Butterfly Shadow Box

Ok, then was the moment to put the design in the frame.

Place the frame face down on a flat surface and use a butter knife, putty knife or similar object to lift each flex tab from the back of the shadow box towards the inside edge of the frame.

Bend all the metal tabs up, leave them in place, and then lift out the cardboard so you can put the picture in place.

Put the butterfly art facing down inside of the frame and then place the paper that came with the frame too.

And finally, Closed it putting back the backing and bending the tabs back in place.

placing the finished printable facing down on the 3d frame


How cute is it???

view Butterfly Shadow Box finished
The Butterfly Shadow Box standing on the table

I decided to place it on a side table in the living room right next to the flower vase.

vertical view Butterfly Shadow Box on the side table next to a flower vase
Butterfly Shadow Box On the table decorated with vases

Super cute and decorative!

So, your turn! How badly are you waiting for spring? Any plans for it?

If you found this project fun to make, don’t forget to PIN and share it with friends!

3D Butterfly Shadow Box Spring Frame Art + Free Printable Pinterest Image with Title overlay

Did you like my Spring Frame Butterfly Shadow Box?

Other Shadow Box ideas:

Need more Spring craft ideas? You might love these too:

Farmhouse Spring Styled Tray Tutorial
Easy DIY Rustic Spring Wreath
Farmhouse Spring Decor Ideas to Try

Til' next time...

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  1. This is so cute! I like simple it is, but a great decoration to add to your home! We find creative and inexpensive ways to make wall art, too! Stopping by from the #WWBH :)

  2. The idea with the butterfly is excellent, I want to make two frames but using a pink and a magenta butterfly for my little girls.

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