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Wooden butterfly

From NZ Gardener magazine

Recreate a Kiwiana classic using one of Jacob Leaf’s New Zealand butterfly templates.

Wooden butterflies were popular decorations on houses and baches in the 1950s and 60s. Inspired by Enid Hunter’s graphic butterfly illustrations on NZ Post’s one- and two-cent stamps for 1970, I designed three butterflies found in New Zealand: a monarch, a yellow admiral and a blue moon (the latter being an Aussie visitor often spotted on the West Coast).

Create a wooden butterfly for your garden

You will need


  • 1200mm x 600mm x 7mm H3.2 treated plywood
  • Pencil and craft knife
  • Jigsaw
  • Sander or sandpaper
  • Paintbrushes
  • Pliers
  • 4 x 6g x 16mm screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Long screw for attaching butterfly to house or wall
  • 230mm round, tapered pine bed leg

Cost: $47 excluding paint.


Step 1
Step one
Step 2
Step two
Step 3
Step three

Step one: Print out the template for your chosen butterfly at full size onto A3 paper (copy shops can do this if you email them the templates). The thicker your paper is, the easier it will be to use your stencil. Cut out the butterfly wing outline, lie it on top of the plywood and trace the outline of the wing with a pencil. Repeat for the second wing.

Step two:  Cut the wing shapes out of the plywood using the jigsaw. Sand the edge of each wing to remove any rough edges.

Step three:  Paint Resene Quick Dry Primer onto the wings. Create the stencil for the wing patterns by cutting the shapes out of the template with a craft knife. Lie the stencil on top of the primed plywood wings and trace the shapes on with a pencil. Repeat for the other wing.

Step 4
Step four
Step 5
Step five
Butterfly template
Wing template

Step four:  Paint each wing, waiting for each colour to dry before adding the next. Paint the black lines and shapes on last.

Step five:  To make the body, remove the screw from the top of the bed leg with a pair of pliers. Prime the bed leg with Resene Quick Dry Primer, then paint it black. Turn the wings over, pattern side down. Position the wings on top of the body. Use a screwdriver to screw each wing to the body at the top and bottom (screw the hole through the wing first before screwing the wing to the body). Attach your finished butterfly to your house by screwing it in place.

To get wing templates email with butterfly as the subject line, and you'll be sent the printable A3-sized files.


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