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Sweet DIY Butterfly Mobile

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Here's my latest project, made for the cherry blossom nursery we just painted for friends:

This is quite possibly the girliest thing I have ever made, but what can I say? I love me some Swarovski crystals.

Spaaaaarkly.


This wasn't too hard to do, and other than the crystals, cost very little to make. If you substitute cheaper beads for the crystals, you should be able to make your own for $15 or less.

Here's how:

Julianne, the new mom-to-be, had an old but never used Winnie-the-Pooh mobile stashed in the closet, which gave us the perfect base to build on. It looked like this:

I've noticed a lot of mobiles are like this: plain plastic with stuffed animals hanging off the arms. Take the toys off, and you've got a perfect blank slate to work with. (And fortunately Julianne's two-year-old loves WtP, so the toys won't go to waste.)

Of course, you don't need a mobile at all: you can also hang this from the ceiling with ribbon. The wind-up mobile base just allows it to rotate and play music.

Oh, and remember how I said the mobile is old? Yeah, look what we found in the box:

LOOK AT THAT WOMAN'S DRESS.

That is all.

Ok, to start we need a grapevine wreath to fit on the mobile arms. Actual grapevine wreaths tend to be too thick and twiggy (you don't want branches cracking off and falling into the crib), so instead, get some brown wrapped floral wire (which looks exactly like branches, btw) and make your own:

I started by wrapping the wire around a five-gallon bucket (which was the perfect size for the mobile) four or five times, then had John help me hold it all together while I spiraled the wire around the ring once to secure it.

Next bend two long sprays of silk blossom branches into half circles, and wrap them in more wire to attach them to the wreath:


Ta-da!

I was amazed by how quick and easy this was to do. Now I'm tempted to make some cute floral tiaras for our next Ren Fair! That big bundle of wire was only $3, the floral spray was $5, and between the two you could easily make at least four or five "crowns." Hmm....

Getting back to our mobile: Use more of that fabulous branch wire to attach the wreath to each of your four mobile arms:

It's hard to see, but I made my strip of wire into a "U," brought that up from under the white mobile arm, and then wrapped each edge around the wreath. It's completely secure; the wreath won't budge no matter how hard I try to wiggle it.

Ok, the base is done - now to the butterflies!

If you have a butterfly punch (or better yet, several in different styles), use those.

If you *don't* have a butterfly punch, do what I did: buy two sheets of laser-cut butterfly paper from the scrapbook aisle for a dollar each. (I found mine at JoAnn's, but sadly it's not on their website. Drat.)

My way will take a little more work, but it's also only $2 to get 5 different styles of butterflies. Not too shabby.

As far as I know these particular sheets only come in blue, so before cutting them, paint them in the high gloss spray paint of your choice:

The high-gloss gives the butterflies a thick, shiny coating that makes them look like enameled metal. Paint both sides to make the card stock super durable. (I'd advise painting your punched butterflies, too, but of course that's up to you.)

Now the hard part:

Cutting out each butterfly was harder than I expected since the design overlaps, forcing you to choose which butterflies you want to save and which to cut through to salvage the others. Tricksy. Just take your time & use a pencil to sketch out the harder areas.

Then use a ruler & the blunt edge of some scissors to make a crease and fold all the wings up.

When you're done, your work space should look something like this:


Next: Prepare for stringing.

Attach the mobile to a chair so you can gauge the height of your strings as you go. You don't want them too long, so aim for the length of the original hanging toys.

To string your butterflies, you'll need:

(Plus some small pliers.)

That's non-stretchy bead cord/mono-filament on the green roll. Make sure it's NON-stretchy. In the plastic tub are crystals and tiny crimp beads, which you'll need lots of. Fortunately they're cheap and easy to find in the bead section of your local craft store. (Buy the smallest size crimps, which I believe was 1.3mm.)

Balance each of your butterflies upside down on a needle to find the sweet spot where it hangs level, and then pierce the paper with the same needle. Keep the holes tiny.

Start each strand with a crimp bead (use small pliers to crimp them in place) then start layering from the bottom up with your butterflies and crystals or beads. Sandwich the butterflies tightly between two crimp beads to ensure they hang level.

Make as many strands as you like, keeping the arrangement somewhat random. I made sixteen, most of which had three butterflies and two crystals on them. The rest had two butterflies and one crystal.


You can hang each strand as you go or wait until you've made them all. Your choice. Knot each strand securely around a single "branch" of the wreath and top the knot with a dab of superglue, just to be safe. Then trim the strand edges, and stand back to admire your work!


I had a hard time photographing the finished product; most of my walls are too light to show the contrast very well. Here's a few more shots taken in my office:



And now a quick video of it in action, just to show the butterflies don't tangle up as it spins:

(Turn your sound down, unless you want to be blasted with Winnie-the-Pooh music box chimes.)

I hope you guys like it! I'll have more pics of the mobile in the nursery once it's completely finished, since I may have one or two more little projects for it, assuming Julianne will let me. (I'm not having kids, so I basically horn in on all of our friends when *they* do. So far none of them seem to mind too much. :D)

Posted by Jen at 4:50 PM Labels: , , ,

43 comments:

  1. I like everything you've made, but this is by FAR my favorite and I'm not very girlie girl either! It's just so delicate and natural and very cool!

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  2. That is abso-frickin-lutely adorable! I must find this brown wire you speak of, and make many adorable crowns and hangy things for my own princess. Unless you want to do it for me. *bats eyelashes*

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  3. If you ever want to make anything for my kids, I'd totally let you! :)

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  4. Wow, that is just so gorgeous! I want one for my room (and I'm 18!) - maybe I could apply the same idea to a dream-catcher... hmm...

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  5. I will more then likely use the butterflies in my bedroom. I am 28 years old and married but my husband and I sleep in different rooms due to we sleep different schedules. I am decorating my room in black, purple, and silver and i was trying to figure out how to incorporate butterflys into it.

    TY Jenn and keep on crafting

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  6. I am curious, though, how old the baby is, because if she's old enough to crawl, this wouldn't be safe to put over the crib, at least not within her reach. But it is incredibly beautiful. I supose the plan is to hang it from the ceiling?

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  7. Not to worry, Kristy; the baby isn't even born yet. And yes, once she's old enough to push herself up the mobile will have to go elsewhere - although from what I've read that's true of all mobiles, since you don't want the kids to grab them!

    I think later we might try to remove the wreath from the mobile arms & hang it from the ceiling, like you said. It might look pretty in a corner somewhere. :)

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  8. Absolutely beautiful!! You made such a nice keepsake for your friend. :)

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  9. I love love LOVE this! ...and I still have that EXACT Pooh mobile, from when my 9 year old was born, but I think she would have preferred the butterflies! SO beautiful and feminine! Thank you for sharing :)

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  10. So gorgeous! I love home-made - it's so special because so much love goes into it.

    And I was surprised that the butterflies didn't tangle as the mobile spun! Did you test it beforehand? Amazing!

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  11. That is beautiful! Feminine w/out being nauseating, and so delicate & airy looking. I love the motion in the video - that sold me! My ever hopeful self will have to make one for our someday-baby :) Thank you for sharing, I love seeing what you create!

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  12. looks great! we appreciate it and yes you can do projects at our house whenever you want!

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  13. Can you puhleeeeeese move to Canada and be my friend??? We have Beaver Tails......

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  14. Gorgeousness! What an awesome idea! I am way impressed--way to go Jen!

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  15. Gorgeous!! I'm betting this will find it's way around Pinterest. :)

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  16. That is gorgeous. And so much more special than Winnie the Pooh. I mean, I love Winnie and friends, but it's not nearly as creative as this.

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  17. This is gorgeous and I can't wait to make one for myself. It's cool how the paper doesn't weigh enough to pull all the curl out of the filament, so there are swooping butterflies at the bottom. Hooray for happy accidents! I also enjoyed the sneaky cameo by Kitty in the photo where you demonstrate how you made the wreath. Love this blog! You really inspire me.

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  18. Jen, this is so beautiful! If you get tired of making baby things, I have a three year old boy, and a five year old girl that share a robot/space room. I think we need some more girly robots in the bedroom. Hint, hint. ;)

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  19. That is sooo lovely. Light and airy and when it turns around all the flutterby's are flying. Just lovely. Off topic but your cherry blossom wall mural inspired me that maybe, just maybe I could do a piece of wall art similar to a piece on the cover of this weeks Target ad. It is still brewing in my head but your tutorial on how you did the mural makes me think I might be able to pull it off. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  20. I have never commented on here before but I felt it was time. Love all the crafty projects you do. But this might be my favorite. It is just so cute and pretty and girly without being overly girly.

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  21. Too bad you don't live near me. I totally would have let you decorate my nursery. Though my husband and I did a pretty good job, we just used wall statics instead of murals.

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  22. We used to have that mobile but unfortunately the "bones" have not survived the years. The mobile song remind me of when they were little :)

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  23. Awesome! I'm kind of mobile-obsessed right now because I finished up the one for my three-week-old's room the night before the c-section. (Yep. 5:30 a.m. appointment at the hospital, and we were up at midnight after the Oscars, hanging hot air balloons, dirigibles and clouds from eye-screws in the ceiling. We know how to use our time.) Yours is wicked cool!

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  24. Jen - I mean this in a non-creepy-stalker kind of way but we were apparently separated at birth! Love all the crafts and geekiness and not having kids either. I keep telling myself it's because I'm too cool of an "aunt" to all my friends kids. None of my friends seem to mind much either :) Love the craft - wondering how I can adapt it to a non-mobile for just making my craft room prettier. :)

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  25. What a wonderful, beautiful thing to do for your friend! How luck for them!

    If only I could figure out a way to hang my sons' LEGO creations, we wouldn't need half as much shelf space. Ha!

    Keep on craftin', Jen!

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  26. Wow, this is amazing! I don't usually like girly things, but this is so lovely, and you give such great instructions, I can't wait to make one, probably for my mom. I can also imagine stamping the butterflies (pre- or post-cutting) with a rainbow of colors, though I love them in the pristine white too. You are so gorram talented!

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  27. I'm having a little girl and we are making a geeky nursery for her. We are making 2 mobiles- mostly as a challenge to each other. My husband in making one with plastic superhero toys, I'm doing a paper one with card stock black and white cut outs of starships (Star Wars, Star Trek, Serenity, at least 1 Tardis). I was thinking of something like yours but with star charms and using an embroidery hoop as the base. ANyway, I'm not using a real mobile as a base, so I wondered about how long did you make the filament/cord?

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  28. As usual I love seeing all the things you and your hubby create, but this takes my breath away. Simply fabulous!

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  29. Each strand hangs about ten inches from the wreath, Microbial Tea (Can I call you Micro? :D) but you can wing it with the lengths. I've seen some really cool mobiles that used a small top hoop and super long strands, giving it almost a wind sock look.

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  30. this is super gorgeous. it's feminine but still unique :)

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  31. Awesomely beautiful mobile.

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  32. OK, that's cool. And funny..... That is the same mobile I had for my oldest son, he's 15 now!!!
    The butterflies are beautiful though! Maybe I should dig out his mobile and do something with it.

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  33. That is a lovely, creative mobile.

    However, there seems to be a problem with the video for us, we cannot see it at all. Did John(thJ) block out part of Canada again?

    I hope we can find that brown wrapped floral wire here, because it has given us some crafty ideas.

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  34. The mobile is gorgeous! But honestly, what really caught my eye was the Pooh mobile you used as a base. I used to work for the Dolly company who made those. I was primarily in the Lamp department, but was sometimes shipped off to other departments. Mobiles being one of them! I packed tons of those things and most of us had bags of the leftover stuffed characters used. I loved working there so much. Thanks for bringing back so many great memories!

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  35. That is beautiful! My husband and I are planning to start trying for babies later this year and this is making me want a little girl even more!

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  36. I am in. love. with this. Jen, you are truly a creative genius. And a terrific writer. And funny. :)

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  37. Love this! I want to do it in silver to match my room (why yes, I am 40 with gray hair and no kids - why do you ask?).

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  38. I LOVE (read again: LOVE) the way you blog! It's EXACTLY how I would do things. Including the girly mobile with butterflies. I was about halfway down the page with a goofy smile when I hit BOOKMARKS to save this on my *holy* Bookmarks Tab. I will be visiting again. From one geeky crafty girl to another: Job Well Done. Awesome Blog, Awesome Ideas.

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  39. Hello,

    This is creativity at its best. Such a lovely project and it looks enchanting!

    Seena

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  40. Such a wonderful project and it looks enchanting. Thank you for today's dose of inspiration! :) What a great blog!!

    Seena

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