Design Sponge At Home: Butterfly Dome

09/23/2011 02:32 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2012

Inspired by vintage French butterfly displays, Design*Sponge editor Amy Azzarito worked with her friend, nature documentary filmmaker Jessica Oreck, of Myriapod Productions, to create this stunning glass butterfly dome. The colors and patterns in the butterfly wings bring a beautiful jolt of color to any room, and can be customized to match any color palette you like. If real butterflies aren't in your budget, you can make a budget-friendly version using store-bought faux butterflies.

DESIGNER: Jessica Oreck

COST: $200

TIME: 2 days



Styrofoam or other cuttable, stiff foam at least 1 inch thick
Black jersey or velvet fabric
Spray adhesive
Staple gun
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Bell jar
12 medium to large butterflies (you can find them at Butterfly Utopia)
Carbon steel wire (12 inches x 1/16 inch diameter)
Wire cutters


To Prepare the Base

1. Cut a circular piece of Styrofoam to fit inside the glass on the base of the bell jar. (Your bell jar may come packed in Styrofoam that is the perfect size for this purpose.)

2. Lay the Styrofoam on the black fabric and cut the fabric so that it's 1 1/2 inches wider than the Styrofoam all around. Attach the fabric to the Styrofoam with spray adhesive, folding the fabric over the edges. If the fabric is too heavy to be held with adhesive, staple it to the underside of the Styrofoam.

3. Using the hot glue gun, attach the fabric-covered Styrofoam to the bell jar base.

To Place the Butterflies in the Dome

4. Beginning with the larger butterflies, decide on the orientation (and placement), then insert the wire into each butterfly at that angle (use wire cutters to shorten as needed). Add a drop of Superglue at the point where the body of the butterfly meets the wire to secure the body. Be very careful handling the butterflies—the bodies are extremely delicate, and just brushing the winds will remove scales, causing the colors to become uneven. Repeat until all the butterflies are mounted on the wires.

5. Insert the wires into the Styrofoam base in the desired locations. If necessary, secure the wires using a dot of superglue at the point where they are inserted into the base.

6. Carefully place the glass dome over the base.

TIP: You can save a significant amount of money by ordering the insects unmounted. This means that you'll have to spread them open yourself. For more information: www.thornesinsects.com

Photos: Johnny Miller.

Excerpt from "Design*Sponge At Home" by Grace Bonney, published by Artisan Books.

Suggest a correction