How to Make a Garden Butterfly from a Soda Can

Spring is just around the corner…isn’t it?  I know I’m ready and if you need a little inspiration to start thinking about Spring then maybe these dainty butterflies  for the garden are just the thing! The best part?  They are made from aluminum beverage cans!

Now let me just admit that I use the “cheaters way” when I cut my butterflies out.  I use a die cutting machine that scrapbookers use and it works just fine.  A word of caution though, if you choose to go this route the manufacturers of Sizzix, Cuttlebug or any other die cut machine that you use do not recommend their products for cutting cans.  I’ve cut out hundreds of aluminum cans with my Sizzix, but you should know that it can be a little more abusive on your machine than paper.  Now that you’ve been warned, here’s what you’ll need to make your very own flutter of butterflies:

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1.  A  cut aluminum can (this is the part you’re most likely to cut yourself, so watch out for those shards of metal along the edges)

2.  Scissors for cutting aluminum (and/or die cutting machine)

3.  Scissors for cutting heavy wire.  I’m using heavy duty snips but a good pair of kitchen scissors should be enough

4.  Galvanized steel wire

5.  An oblong bead or several smaller beads that will fit onto your steel wire to form the body of the butterfly

6.  Thumb tack for punching a small hole in your butterfly (I use a stack of cardboard for poking into)

7.  A sharpie (if you’re not using a die cut machine)

8.  Large barreled pen or wooden dowel, anything you can wrap your wire around to make a spring

First things first, if you are not using a Sizzix, draw out a butterfly on the silver side of your can and carefully cut it out.  You can clean up any Sharpie marks with rubbing alcohol or fingernail polish remover

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Place your butterfly on top of the cardboard and poke a small hole close to the head area, centered between the two wings

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Now attach the bead.  First, poke a length of wire (about 18-24 inches long) through the back side of the butterfly. The amount of wire that you want exposed on the top side of the butterfly depends on how big you make your finished butterfly.  You will need a piece that is almost long enough to wrap completely around the body of the butterfly (not including the wings).  Once your wire is through, slide the bead on and bend the wire down.  Finally, bend that same piece of wire up around the backside of the butterfly and trim.

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Don’t worry, if I lost you you can see this done in real time here.  Okay, one last step before your butterfly is ready for the garden and this one is even optional.  If you’d like you can just shape the long part of your wire and stick the end in the dirt.  I like to add a little spring to the center of the wire, however, so that the butterfly makes fun movements in the wind.   To add the spring, coil the wire around a large diameter (3/4″ to an inch or more) pen or dowel over and over again.  Just be sure to leave a little of the wire at the top and bottom straight.

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Your butterfly is done!  If you want to snazz up the boring silver backside, you can use alcohol inks to color them like I did for this photo (there’s even a video for painting and embossing your soda cans):

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My favorite cans to use are the Arizona Tea cans, they really are pretty.  What will yours be made of?

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  1. I have to do that for my community garden this spring!Beautiful!

  2. This is adorable and will give our boring backyard some needed color and jazz!

  3. I absolutely love this – never thought of using my sizzix to die cut soda cans. I’m definitely going to give this a try.

  4. Genius- I am definitely making these, I don’t have a Sizzix so will try it freehand and see what happens. Thank you for sharing this!

    – Cat :)

  5. ooh i love love love it! these are beautiful. thanks for sharing =)

  6. These are beautiful and so simple! I’ll let you know if I make some of these! :)

  7. Awesome! I’ve always wondered how to make them… now to find friends who drink can sodas :)

    • You could always dumpster dive in a recycle tip. Long as you don’t have to dive too deep!

    • Thanks, Erin. I actually take walks and clean up the curbside for a lot of cans. I live on a road more akin to a country road, complete with cows, and the “younger folk” like to go speeding by tossing soda and (sadly) beer cans out of the car window. You’d be surprised how many you can find that way. And as an added bonus, your neighborhood stays a little cleaner, too!