Saturday, February 24, 2018

How to Make a Butterfly Vintage Print - Variation on a Theme

Please join my on my new blog - where this project is included with more already added. Thank you. I hope to see you there.

Butterfly Vintage Print photo
Butterfly Vintage Print

There are three intersecting inspirations for this project. One is a stunning book I found online called British Butterflies by James Duncan published in 1855. You can find the book on a site called This volume has the most beautiful vintage butterfly prints I have ever seen. The drawings in this book have inspired me ever since I first looked at them.

Print from British Butterflies that my project is based on. Isn't it beautiful?

The second inspiration is the gorgeous new stamp from Tim Holtz and Stampers Anonymous called Glorious Bouquet. I figured it would be a great background for the butterflies.

And then the final inspiration is this week's Monday challenge at Simon Says Stamp - Grunge It Up. All 3 of these percolated in my mind to come up with this particular vintage butterfly project.

I've made a Vintage Butterfly Print before. It is one of my favorite projects and is actually on the wall next to my computer right now.

Butterfly Vintage Print with hand drawn background
My first Butterfly Vintage Print - I drew this background to mimic the one in the British Butterflies book

Here is a brief summary of the process to make this Butterfly Vintage Print:

  1. Print out vintage print from the British Butterfly book
  2. Stamp the Glorious Bouquet in a subtle ink to form the background
  3. Distress the background to look like it came from an old book
  4. Cut out butterflies with Tim Holtz Flutter set
  5. Cut out black background for butterflies
  6. Draw butterfly markings with permanent black ink
  7. Color butterflies
  8. Layer finished butterflies over the black butterfly background
  9. Glue butterflies to the print and the print to black cardstock
  10. Add antennae
  11. Distress box to function as a frame for the print
  12. Place butterfly print in the distress, grunged-up box
Now I'll go over the steps in a little more detail so you visualize the process a little better and maybe use this as an inspiration for your own project.

1. Print the vintage print you choose from the British Butterfly book. There are 34 beautiful illustrations to choose from. I chose Plate 31 for this project. I print out the illustration just so I can look at it while I am working so I don't have to continually go to the computer to see the butterflies.

2. Background with the Glorious Bouquet stamp. I used the Ranger Archival ink called Watering Can, a lovely grey shade, to form the background on 110# white cardstock. Though this stamp is so beautiful on it can stand on its own, it must be subtle to mimic the botanical background for this project. 

3. Distress the background. I needed to seriously distress the background to look like it was from a 150-year-old book. I have difficulty distressing with the blending tool sometimes. I tend to leave circular patterns on the paper; most of the time it doesn't matter, but here it does. I decided to wet the paper and paint the distress inks and stains with a large water brush.  I like how it turned out. To me it looks like an ancient page. 

4. Die cut the butterflies. I used Tim Holtz' Flutter set to pick out different butterfly die shapes that were close to the design on the print. Notice that none of these butterflies have a "tail" on the wings so I chose the dies with more rounded wings. I am so happy that there are so many choices in this set of butterfly dies. 

5. Cut out a black background for butterflies. I cut out a second set of butterflies in black cardstock to glue behind my butterflies just to give them a little more dimension. I like to glue them together and then bend the wings upward so the black background gives them a deep shadow. 

6. Draw butterfly markings in black permanent ink. Here is the only hard part, drawing the markings on the butterfly. I could have stamped them, but I wanted my butterflies to look like the ones in the illustration so I chose to draw the specific markings as best as I could on each butterfly. And do use a permanent ink and then let it dry. Some of the ink smeared because I didn't let the ink dry enough. Remember you can choose to use stamps and then color the butterflies similar to the ones in the print. That is always an option.

Colored butterflies for vintage botanical print
Close-up of butterflies for the print

7. Color the butterflies. The fun part - coloring the butterflies. Part of the reason I chose this particular print is because I love the blue butterflies. These butterflies are in the same family of butterflies that I colored previously - Polyommatus. They have the loveliest shade of blue. I used distress pens, crayons and a water brush to color these butterflies. 

8. Layer butterflies on the black background. Glue the body of the butterfly on the body of the black butterfly cutout. Leave the wings free so you can bend them upward a little bit for dimension. Two of the butterflies are resting on a leaf with the wings up so I folded those 2 in half and cut half a black cardstock butterfly for the background.

9. Glue the butterflies to the botanical background. I tried to glue them in a similar placing to what is shown on the print. Since my flowers are different from the background on the inspiration print, it doesn't really matter that much. But since the print has such a pleasing arrangement, I thought I would use the same one. After that I glued the print to heavy black cardstock to give it a black border and make it a little more sturdy.

10. Glue antennae on the butterflies. On my previous print, I drew the antennae (latin plurals drive me crazy) on with a fine Micron pen. This background is busier so I didn't really think that was a good option as they wouldn't show up very well. I decided to use thread. I coated black thread with glossy accents to make the thread have more body. Then I folded it in a V-shape, and adhered on the head of each butterfly. 

11. Distress box as a frame for the butterfly print. You have to use what you have and what I have at my house are Fancy Feast boxes. They may be a little deep as a frame, but they are sturdy and plentiful. I covered the box with pages from an aged paperback book that was falling apart. Then I whitewashed it a little bit with diluted white gesso, inked and painted with various shades of blue followed by distressing with Distress oxides brown shades and black soot. 

Grunged up box for the Butterfly Vintage Print
Distressed canned kitty food box for vintage print frame
Side view of the seriously distressed box for the vintage print.

Back of canned food box for frame of butterfly vintage print.
It's a Fancy Feast box, alright. I'm not advertising for them. It's just what I have at home. 

12. Adhere the print to the box frame. I added a piece of brown corrugated cardboard to the base of the box just for a little more dimension. The print was then adhered to the cardboard which fit nicely in the distressed Fancy Feast box. 

And that's it - the latest Butterfly Vintage Print. I hope you enjoyed seeing this project and that you can find some inspiration in the process. 

I am sharing this with this week's Simon Says Stamp Challenge - Grunge It Up. 

I appreciate comments and pins and likes and stuff like that. Thank you for stopping by my blog.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wilkins House Putz Project for Habitat

Please join my on my new blog - where this project is included with more already added. Thank you. I hope to see you there.

Wilkins House putz version
The Wilkins House as the putz version. The trees are not glued on yet because I will probably add snow and glitter to them. I will also put more snow on the roof, the stairs and the base.

Finally, I have finished my most ambitious little cardboard house - the Wilkins House. It is based on a famous house in my hometown that was saved from the destruction by moving it and fully renovating it in its new site. I figured it would be a good project for the next Habitat for Humanity auction which isn't until October. I am glad I finished it now because it basically took me about 2 months to get it done.

Wilkins Putz House conservatory side view
Conservatory side of the Wilkins House

Wilkins putz house porch side view
Wilkins House Porch side view

Wilkins Putz House top porch view
Wilkins House top porch view

Bird's eye view of the Wilkins putz house
Bird's eye view of the house. Definitely needs more snow.

To recap and give you an idea of the challenges in making this house, I've written about 6 blog posts describing the process:

Next Putz House for Habitat

Putz Plan Progress

Wilkins House Putz Progress Prototype 4

Spring Mansion - Evolution of a Putz House

Spring Mansion - What I learned from crafting a prototype

It's Going to Work

The major challenge for me is always measuring accurately. All the pieces had to fit together or the house would look wonky like some of the elements on the Spring Mansion, the prototype house. I wouldn't say that the pieces are perfect, but they are pretty dang good for me. I am very pleased with how the house has turned out. I am hoping the house will bring a lot of money for Habitat of Greenville during the October auction fundraiser.

Wilkins House Putz Version with real Wilkins House
Comparison of the real Wilkins House with my putz version.

Next? Now I get to make Halloween houses which will be sold (not auctioned) to raise money for Habitat. My favorite houses to make. The first one I am going to make is a simplified Halloween version of the Wilkins House. I hope I can complete it much faster than this one.

Oh, I am going to enter this into an online challenge. I found that the Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge is "Add a Die Cut". I have used a number of dies in this project. My favorites are the windows from the Tim Holtz Village Manor and then the rooftop dies. The other die used was the fence die where I used the offcuts to make the balusters and the notching around the top of the house. I'm saving all the fence pieces I cut out for the Halloween houses I will be making.

Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, February 5, 2018

It's Going to Work!

The pieces for the Wilkins House are going to fit together!

Testing fitting the pieces of the Wilkins House putz house
I think all the pieces are going to fit together and actually work! I am delighted. The paint color is a mixture of Candied Apple and Fired Brick mixed with sand to give it a rough texture.

This view shows how the front porches will go on the Wilkins House. They are not glued on yet. And there is lots of trim that is needed as well. You see some of the trim in the background. The top part of the front tower has been glued down because it has to fit the angle of the roof so it had to go first. The top piece determines where the top porch floor goes. Then the bottom part of the tower determines where the bottom of the porch goes. And amazingly, they all fit!

I am more likely to eyeball how something goes together rather than measure carefully, but because of all the components of this house I had to improve my measuring skills. Fortunately, I've been pretty successful. I will know for sure when I add the side embellishments and the railing for the porches and the conservatory.

Cardboard pieces for the Wilkins Putz House
These are all the pieces that needed to be painted for the Wilkins house. At least I think that was all of them. I painted one extra sheet of cardboard with gesso and sand in case I needed more stone-textured embellishments. 

Still lots of details on this house to come - trim around the roof, roof shingles which I'm going to make to look like slate, 2 chimneys, the details around the conservatory, the front columns, quoins (can't forget the quoins), stone front stairs and then landscaping. The most challenging part is an ornate little princess balcony that is at the top of the tower - haven't really worked that out yet. Probably another week or two before I get the house done. This is a seriously time-consuming house. I am ready to go back to Halloween houses so I can quit worrying about perfect fits and I can paint streaks on the house to distress it and use dark colors that I am more comfortable with and so on.

Previous links to making the Wilkins House from the first to the last one:

Next Putz House for Habitat
Putz Plan Progress
Wilkins House Putz Progress Prototype 4
Spring Mansion - The Evolution of a Putz House
Spring Mansion - What I learned from crafting a Prototype

That's the brief update for today. Thank you for following me on this Putz house-making journey.

Please join my on my new blog - where this project is included with more already added. Thank you. I hope to see you there.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Spring Mansion - What I learned from crafting a prototype

Please join my on my new blog - where this project is included with more already added. Thank you. I hope to see you there.

Lessons Learned?

Lessons learned with the Spring Mansion, the putz prototype house? Many things:
  1. How to make a tower to fit a hipped roof
  2. How to draw a steeple pattern 
  3. How to make a second story porch or rather how NOT to make a second story porch
  4. How to cut small dowels to length
  5. How to make a solid porch floor
  6. How to make folded cardboard stairs
  7. How to make porch railings
  8. And most important, do the hard things first.


Most of these lessons I learned are really are what not to do. I listed the most important last. If you have challenging details for a project do them FIRST when you are the freshest on your project. The porches are the most challenging for me so that is what I worked on first for the real Wilkins House.

Base for the porch of the Wilkins Putz house
Base for the porch floor of the Wilkins Putz House


This took me awhile to figure out. I couldn't get the angle right because it wasn't what I thought it was. Finally I had to just measure against the roof to get the appropriate angle. That method always works. It's not based on geometry skills, but it works.


See the post on how to draw a steeple pattern. I wouldn't have figured this out if I didn't have to try out so many sizes of steeples for my various prototypes. And drawing the pattern is so easy. I am so glad I figured it out (not that I invented this method, it's really simple geometry).

Steeple roof for the Putz Wilkins House
I am so happy about how nicely my steeples work out now. I'm not afraid to make them anymore.


I made the second story porch on the Spring Mansion with just one thin layer of cardboard which was not sufficient. It looked flimsy and would not support the visual weight of the porch railing. I glued an additional layer of cardboard which helped but didn't completely solve the problem. Next time on the real Wilkins Putz House? I've glued 2 pieces of heavy duty cardboard together for the second story porch floor. The heavy duty cardboard was the backing board from a watercolor paper pad - very substantial cardboard.


Lesson number 4 was learning to cut small dowels to length. On my Halloween houses, the dowels can be wonky and it doesn't matter, but if you are trying to make a pretty house the dowels need to be the same length and the porch supported by the dowels needs to be level. That didn't happen on the Spring Mansion. I had been cutting the dowels with my garden clippers but that doesn't leave a smooth end. Now I am cutting them with a dremel tool and then sanding the edge to make a nice flat end.

Porch progress for the Putz house, Wilkins house
I cut these dowels with the garden clippers which you can see leaves a really messy edge. I just cut them to see how they would fit in the porch floor after I drilled holes. They fit nicely and will be very strong. I was going to push them through the top porch piece but I don't think that will be necessary. I think everything is going to be sturdy enough without that extra fiddly work. The final cut will be done with the dremel tool.


Part of the problem with the dowels was related to lesson number 5 - how to make a solid porch floor. I made the porch floor from folded cardboard which means that it flexed so the height at one end of the porch was different from the other end. This time I made it with layers of corrugated cardboard covered with thinner cardboard. I drilled holes the size of the dowels to make sure they are well anchored on the floor.

Side view of porch floor layers for the Wilkins Putz house
Porch floor made of about 5 layers of corrugated cardboard. I added another thinner, smoother layer of cardboard on top. I used painter's tape to hold all the layers together while the glue dried. It peels off fairly easily.


I haven't made these yet so I have to experiment some more. I will write a separate post about making stairs. The stairs on the Spring Mansion were made from a complicated folded design that leaves folded edges in prominent places which I don't want on the Wilkins House.

Cardstock prototype for stair on putz house
Cardboard prototype for stairs on the Spring Mansion. It is unnecessarily complicated and leaves a folded edge on the front sides of the stairs.
Stairs on Spring Mansion Putz House
Close-up view of the stairs on the Spring Mansion - kind of wonky with seams showing in the front. 


Porch railings are not really hard; they just take time. For the Wilkins house I  measured out 5/8 of an inch and glued the railings onto the balusters so that the entire piece was 5/8" high. Much, much nicer and it will be so much nicer to work with when I put the railings on the house.

Wilkins Putz House Porch Railings in progress
Porch railings that were measured to 5/8 inch. They aren't perfect but they are close and will look so much better than  on the Spring Mansion. 

Those are major lessons that I can think of right now. There are probably other subtle things I learned that I'm not even aware of.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I hope you have a happy creative day today.