How to Mount a Butterfly in a Shadow Box

Written by april lee
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How to Mount a Butterfly in a Shadow Box
(Hemera Technologies/ Images)

The butterfly, with its colourful wings and graceful flight, has captured the imagination of people from the time of the ancient Egyptians. Butterflies were displayed on hieroglyphics and believed to represent a person's soul taking flight from the body. Butterflies also represent new life as they emerge from their cocoons. Learn how to mount a butterfly in a shadow box and bring colour and life to your home or office.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Shadow box
  • Butterfly
  • Antiseptic mouthwash
  • Wire mesh
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Styrofoam board
  • Tracing paper
  • Pins
  • Knife
  • Plastic container with lid
  • Damp paper towels

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  1. 1

    Put the damp paper towels in the bottom of the plastic container.

  2. 2

    Pour a cap of antiseptic mouthwash into the container. This keeps mould from forming on the butterfly while in the container.

  3. 3

    Cut the wire mesh to fit the container. Place the wire mesh on top of the paper towels to keep the butterfly from touching the damp paper towels.

  4. 4

    Place the butterfly in the container and close the lid to keep it airtight. Leave it alone for several days.

  5. 5

    Check the butterfly. Pick it up by the thorax with tweezers and gently squeeze. If the thorax is flexible, the butterfly is ready to mount.

  6. 6

    Cut out a square piece of foam board with the knife. The piece of foam board should be big enough for the butterfly to fit on, and fit inside the dimensions of the shadow box.

  7. 7

    Cut four strips of waxed paper with scissors. The strips of waxed paper should be about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide.

  8. 8

    Pin the butterfly through the thorax. Be careful not to damage the wings if you have to spread them out to reach the thorax.

  9. 9

    Pin the butterfly upside down into the foam cutout. The pin head should go through the foam board, not the sharp end.

  10. 10

    Place one pin on each side of the abdomen where it meets the thorax in the centre of the butterfly's body.

  11. 11

    Place one pin in each forewing and hindwing. Make sure the butterfly's wings are even on the foam cutout.

  12. 12

    Cover the butterfly wings with strips of waxed paper. Hold the waxed paper down with pins, but avoid pushing these pins through the butterfly's wings

  13. 13

    Pin the antennae in place.

  14. 14

    Wait a week.

  15. 15

    Remove the pins and waxed paper. Turn the butterfly over and stick the thorax pin into the middle of the foam board.

  16. 16

    Glue the back of the foam board to the shadow box.

  17. 17


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