Butterflies are a universal symbol of spring. Real butterflies are sometimes hard to find outside, but it's fairly easy to fold your own origami butterflies in celebration of spring. They also make lovely Easter decorations.
This is a simple origami butterfly tutorial that elementary school children should be able to fold with minimal adult assistance. It would be a good activity to do as part of a lesson on the life cycle of a butterfly or as part of an activity demonstrating how butterflies, like people, are all uniquely beautiful.
Origami butterflies, like origami cranes, are sometimes folded in remembrance of a loved one. In 2012, The Holocaust Museum Houston is planning a "butterfly project" to collect 1.5 million butterflies in honor of the young children who lost their lives during this tragic time in history. The butterflies are scheduled to be part of an exhibit at the museum in Spring 2014.
Origami butterflies can be made from any size of square origami paper. Use whatever color or pattern you wish, although it's a good idea to coordinate colors and patterns if you plan to make a group of butterflies to display together. The butterfly in this tutorial was folded from origami paper measuring 6 ¾ inches by 6 ¾ inches. As a general rule of thumb, larger paper is easier for beginners to fold accurately.
1. Make a Balloon Base
Starting with the colored side of your origami paper face up, fold in half horizontally. Crease firmly, then unfold. Fold in half vertically. Crease firmly, then unfold. Flip the paper over so the patterned or colored side is facing down. Fold the paper in half diagonally. Crease firmly, then unfold. Fold the paper in half diagonally from the other direction. Crease firmly, then unfold. Using the middle vertical folds, collapse the paper into a triangle shape. When you're finished, your project should look like the photo to the left. This is called a balloon base or waterbomb base. It is a common form used in several different types of origami projects, so it's helpful to know how to complete this from memory.
2. Fold the Corners Up
Fold the left and right corners of the top layer of paper up to make a square as shown. The bottom layer should still be left in a triangle shape.
4. Complete Your Origami Butterfly
Flip your paper over once more. Pinch the middle of the butterfly slightly to make it look like it is flying. Fold the bottom corners back if desired to give the wings a bit more shaping.
Your origami butterfly is now complete. Use colored pencils, markers, google eyes or other embellishments to decorate, if desired. If you want to be very creative, you could even try adding wire antennae to your butterfly.
Origami butterflies are great to use as decorations on the front of handmade greeting cards. They are also nice as place card decorations at a spring wedding. Additionally, origami butterflies can be hung together to create a large mobile or window decoration. If you tape the butterflies to a wooden dowel, they can be used to decorate flower pots indoors.