Butterfly Wall Art

So my guilty pleasure in life is the show Gossip Girl.  I love the clothes, love the penthouse decor of the upper east side, and I love the drama.  In Serena’s  new bedroom in her apartment with Blair there is an amazing Paul Villinski piece of sculptural wall art that I want everyone to know more about.  Villinski uses found beer cans, colors them with soot, and then attaches each seperate butterfly individually into the wall to create a design. 

Villenski piece where he used a painted butterfly, vs the black soot

I decided I could take all my beautiful La Croix sparkling water cans and replicate for my own home, since I am not sure I could afford Mr. Villinski to come to my house and personally attach each piece to the wall.  See my efforts below!   Oh..but I used spray paint (instead of soot) so my results aren’t as eco-friendly, but I am still recycling trash and making wall treasure, so I feel good about it!

I have finally added step by step pictures of how I made my wall sculpture! Note: I mixed together about 6 different shapes of butterflies and enlarged certains ones to make it look like a variety of species. I recently installed a new design in my client’s home office that wraps around a corner and over a window- we both are so happy with the result!

Cut the top and bottom off of the can first

Cut the top and bottom off of the can first

butterfly 2

Then cut a line vertically up the can and roll out flat. I usually tried to get at least 2 large and 1 small butterfly out of each can.

Lay out your cut out paper butterfly on the can with the rounded edges horizontal across the wings.  I used rubber cement to hold it in place, because it will allow the paper to come of easily when you are done.

Lay out your cut out paper butterfly on the can with the rounded edges horizontal across the wings. I used rubber cement to hold it in place, because it will allow the paper to come of easily when you are done.

I usually cut the the antenna last and you have to do this carefully, because they will snap off since they are so thin.

I usually cut the the antenna last and you have to do this carefully, because they will snap off since they are so thin.

The cut out butterfly!

The cut out butterfly!

After this step you have to prime and then paint the butterflies.  Spray paint is so much easier than trying to use a brush, but without the primer the paint one stick!  Also, Martha Stewart has an adapter that you can pour acrylic paint into and spray that I purchased at Michael’s.  It was a little messy, but allowed me to get the exact color I wanted rather than be stuck with the choices available only in the spray paint aisle.  *Make sure to clean it out properly after each use or the paint will clog up and it will be worthless.

Close up of  the painted & installed butterflies

Close up of the painted & installed butterflies.  The shadows this creates on the wall adds so much depth and interest to the sculpture.  Love the finished product!

Installed in my client's home office!  We chose a dark purple to pop against the grey/green walls.  Wall color is Sherwin Williams "Sea Salt."

Installed in my client’s home office! We chose a dark purple to pop against the grey/green walls. Wall color is Sherwin Williams “Sea Salt.”

Then poke 2 vertical holes in the “body” of the butterfly.  Loop the wire through and bend on one end to hold in the butterfly- the other end will go directly into the wall.  I used a large open safety pin to put a small hole that angles down into the wall.  Then I placed the wire in the hole following the downward angle.  The shorter you cut the wire part that actually goes into the wall, the easier it is to place exactly where you want.  I liked my wire at several different lengths so that they butterflies grouping had some depth to it.  I didn’t paint the wire, but it was pretty discreet once all the butterflies were in place.

Good luck with your project!

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25 thoughts on “Butterfly Wall Art

  1. Dear Andrea,
    I would like to ask you how did you put the butterflies on the wall?
    Please answer me because I am planning to make it,
    TY.
    Liza

      • I used a 24mm and an 18mm wire from the hardware store. I really liked the thicker wire because it held straight when pressed into the wall, but the smaller gauge wire was easier to manipulate around the holes in the butterfly without causing creases in the can. You might have to play with it a bit to get the hang of what works best for you.

  2. Wonderful job!!! I too have been searching for a more affordable alternative. May I ask which image you chose to use to design & cut these butterflies?

    PS. thanks for the tip on how to use the wire … this is either going to be great, or lead to a savings account for PV’s art 🙂 (I’m not nearly as creative as your work of art here)

  3. Hey Carolyn,
    I just searched images on yahoo and printed out a few as templates that I would lay directly on the can and cut around. I think I selected about 4 different shapes and sizes to create my wall sculpture.
    Hope this helps!

      • I would love to see the step by step pics. I saw this sculpture on an HGTV show several years ago and never forgot it. I was planning to try and make my own eventually. You did it first and did it beautifully so I just want to “borrow” your proven procedure. Well done!!

  4. so i was wondering where you put the steps up for creating the butterflies because i would really like to do this in my room

    • I don’t think it was ever done…I asked a couple of months ago. Just have to try it according to how it was described and experiment I guess.

  5. I love the butterfly art! I’m thinking of doing something similar on my wall. How did you make the wire not show when you placed the butterflies on the wall? Also, how did you stick the wire to the wall?

    • You could try tape or a dab of rubber cement. Rubber cement usually will peel right off of most surfaces very easily…but you may want to test a small out of the way area with it and see if does on your surface. It won’t make the shadows on the wall, since it doesn’t have the space between wall and butterfly, but would still be a pretty affect overall.

    • You could also put them on a cork panel covered in neutral fabric or painted the solor of the wall or a contrasting color..somewhat of a different look, but still nice.

  6. I am based in Kenya
    I do really appreciate your post. I mad about Butterflies. I mostly use Embossed papers to make my Butterflies. I have been looking for a more durable material for my Butterflies and thanks to this post, I have found it. in your explanation, everything is clear till that part of installation on the wall. I am dealing with concrete walls here. any suggestions. I am thinking double sided tape. thanks.

    • My installation would definitely not work on concrete. I actually made a tiny hole in the wall with a open safety pin at a downward angle and then “sat” the wired part of the butterfly in the pre-made hole. I would think tape or a tiny dot of glue would work fine. The butterflies are still so light when made of the aluminum, that a small amount of support goes a long way. Good luck! I would love to see pictures of your finished project!

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