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A cheap shadow box gets a rustic makeover with a butterfly wall decal and a bit of acrylic paint.
About a month ago I found these butterfly wall decals on AliExpress. I’m a sucker for butterflies, and they were only $2, so I decided to buy them and use one of them to make a little butterfly shadow box.
The process was pretty straightforward. I printed the ‘Lepidoptera’ text on to the cardboard, stuck the butterfly to the cardboard using Blu-Tack, then painted the white frame with acrylic paint to create a faux wood finish.
- A small shadow box. You can get a 6″ x 6″ shadow box here.
- Butterfly wall stickers.
- White cardstock.
- Blu-Tack/sticky tape and a pair of scissors or rotary cutter.
- A paintbrush and white, light brown, dark brown, and black acrylic paint.
- Protective top coat.
- Plastic primer
- A hairdryer (not entirely necessary, but it’ll make the paint dry quickly).
Preparing the butterfly art
I began by printing the “Fig 1. Lepidoptera” text on to a piece of white cardstock. Using the back of the frame as a guide, I then cut the cardstock to size.
Next, I put a bit of Blu-Tack on the back of the butterfly.
I then pressed the butterfly against the white cardstock.
Creating a faux wood effect for the frame
At this point, I realised that the white frame looked a little bit too modern for my liking. After a bit of “Oh god, I’ve ruined it”, I got over my little freak out and decided to give the frame a faux wood look using a little bit of paint.
I started by applying a coat of plastic primer to the frame. I don’t always use primer, but I find that paint doesn’t ever want to stick to plastic without it.
Then, using a dry paint brush, I began with a light coat of light brown paint (I used this paint).
Still using a dry brush, I then layered light coats of paint as follows:
- A few strokes of dark brown acrylic paint.
- A few very light strokes of black paint.
- Another few strokes of the light brown paint.
In between each colour, I used a hair dryer on high heat to quickly dry the paint. The paint doesn’t need to be completely dry – about 30 seconds to a minute per coat is enough.
Still using a dry paintbrush, I then brushed white paint over the entire frame. As with the previous layers of paint, I dried the white paint using a hairdryer.
To finish, I added a coat of Rust-Oleum’s ‘Chalked Protective Top Coat’ to the frame and blasted it with the hairdryer to stop the paint from chipping. I used this brand because I had plenty leftover from refinishing this side table, but any matte protective top coat (e.g. matte varnish or polycrylic protective varnish) will work.