Kirigami Pop-Up Butterflies

Kirigami is the japanese art of paper cutting.

Many people might know this art from childhood while cutting out paper hearts, snowflakes, or even a string of people holding hands. It’s pretty much the same, the only difference is in the folding.

The difficulty ranges from one fold and a few cuts to multiple folds and hours of paper cutting. Even beginners can make beautiful detailed creations, as long as they have patience and time.

I have previously shown how to make a kirigami flower:

click to enlarge

and circle of hearts,

click to enlarge

but this time I would love to show you how to make a pop-up string of butterflies.

For any kirigami creation, there are a four standard items needed. Paper, a pencil, scissors or exacto knife and a small stapler (the staples are to help keep paper aligned and reinforce certain areas).

The first step is to find a piece of paper that you like. Any colour or light pattern will do, but just remember to choose a paper that’s strong enough for delicate cuts.

The easiest kirigami fold is to simply fold your piece in half. The more common paper shapes are square and rectangle, but any will do as long as you have enough room to draw your image.

Next, draw out your image with a pencil. The most important thing to remember at this point is to include parts of the folded edge in the main image drawing. This will ensure that your entire image stays in one piece.

Another important point to remember is that anything you draw on one side will be the mirror image of the other side, so drawing half a flower from the folded edge will turn into a full flower once completed.

click to enlarge

I have chosen a string of butterflies.

*Note that all the butterflies have overlapping parts to ensure they all stay together. Also, I’ve only drawn half a butterfly on the left, to become a fully opened one once it’s done.

(Please excuse the “dirty” look of the picture since I had to adjust the colours a bit to make the pencil drawing more visible).

The next step is to staple throughout the drawing in order to reinforce certain delicate areas and make it easier to cut out.

I prefer using a scalpel type knives for small spaces and tight curves.

Once you’ve finished cutting your image out, use it to decorate any number of things. Secure it to book or card covers, frame them, or hang them up.

click to enlarge

I’ve also twisted it a little at the ends to create a pop up cut out.


  1. Rocio
    Jan 27, 2010

    Thanks for sharing! I really want to try this out sometime. 🙂

  2. Jeff
    Apr 17, 2010

    Thats awesome. Thanks for the post, it’s given me lots of ideas.

  3. papillon
    Feb 13, 2011

    Can I have it???


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