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Butterfly - Fluttering Model to Download and Make


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The Fluttering Butterfly is a pendulum powered model to download, print out and make. Any slight movement of the model make the wings tremble and flap. Members can download the model at the link for free. Non-members can download the parts for a small fee.
There are three pages of parts. Print out page one and two onto thin card. (230 gram/230 micron) notice that page two has a front and a back. Print out one side, flip the card over and print the other. Page three is the same but should be printed onto thin photocopier paper (80 gram)
Score the dotted lines then carefully cut out the parts.

The finished model.

Fold the bottom of the pendulum up and glue it into place.

Fold the pendulum in half and glue it at ninety degrees.

Glue the paper hinge into place on the grey area.

Glue the two linkages to the pendulum. Notice that the linkages fit between the grey lines (arrowed)

You’ll need four coins of approx. 25mm diameters. Wrap the coin holders round the two pairs of coins. Glue the coins to the end of the pendulum.

Fold the ends round and glue them down to make triangular sections.

Repeat the process with the front and back of the box.

Glue the front, back and sides to the box base as shown.

Fold the box up and glue it together.

Fold up the flaps from the base and glue it to the inside of the box.

Glue the paper hinge to the box. Make sure that the glue is completely dry before you let the hinge take the full weight of the coins.

Fold up the wing stand.

Glue on the paper hinges.

Glue the two triangular wing bases to the paper hinge.

Glue the wing stand to the box.

Glue the linkages to the wing bases.

Glue the smaller of the leaf stands into place.

Fit the leaf over the wing stand and glue it to the small leaf stand. Make sure that the leaf doesn’t catch on any of the moving parts.

Glue the larger leaf stand to the side of the box in the position shown.

Glue the two lower wings into place. Make sure that the roots of the wings are very close together but not quite touching each other. Less than a millimetre apart would be perfect. Don’t let them touch though or they might bind as the wings move.

Glue the top pair of wings into place.

Complete the model by gluing the antennae to the bottom surface of the wing bases.

Once complete, present the model to your true love. Awww!

12 reviews for Butterfly

  • Dear Rob,
    I couldn’t resist

    Dear Rob,

    I couldn't resist to praise you: congratulations for this artwork piece! Simply marvellous. 

    • Thanks Hugo, I hope you enjoy

      Thanks Hugo, I hope you enjoy the YouTube video of the finished model!

      • Just a reminder
        Change the

        Just a reminder

        Change the bottom of the pages from

        © Rob Ives 2010 to

        © Rob Ives 2011


        • @Manlok927 — Done. Thanks

          @Manlok927 — Done. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Nice job, but can´t download

    Nice job, but can´t download TT_TT

    • Can you made a tutorial

      Can you made a tutorial of pendulum? please ^^

      • @charat, You need to be a

        @charat, You need to be a paid subscriber to download the model for free. If you only have the free subscription you can download it for a small fee. 

        Re the tutorial, do you mean a page about how pendulums work and how they can be used?

        • How much do your 25mm coins

          How much do your 25mm coins weigh?  The closest US coin to 25mm is a quarter (24mm), but nickels (21mm) are only .6g lighter at 1/5 the value. 5g vs 5.7g. Seems better to match weight than size.

          I'm trying to figure out a US equivalent that doesn't sink real money into the pendulum!

          • @drinkumbrella: Good point,

            @drinkumbrella: Good point, the 2p coins that I use for this model are roughly 7g each.

  • I love this model. It just

    I love this model. It just makes me happy to have it out on the table. An unexpected bump on the table gets the butterfly flicking its wings. Lovely. Probably my favorite from the last year — simple, elegant, and the motion is pleasantly unexpected — very butterfly-esque. (Other top favorites from the last year have been the "hoot" owl, the pneumatic giraffe, and the crow.)

    My wife, who normally just tolerates the vast piles of paper models I leave lying around the house, also piped up in support! (My hearts-and-butterfly-crazy 4-yo daughter had a fresh packet of hello kitty stickers, so she hasn't really noticed, but I think she'll come around when the stickers are all lost or out of stick.)

    If there were non-fading ink, this would go great in the back window of the car.

    (I wound up using 4 nickels for the pendulum, 20g all together; works nicely.)

    • Thanks for that

      Thanks for that @drinkumbrella. It's always really nice to hear that people have successfully made a model. My true love also says that the butterfly is her favourite. 

      • Here’s what I could dig up in

        Here's what I could dig up in a few minutes from the last year of workshop notes (I forgot to get the pendulum sheep in to the picture).

        (please pay no attention to the minor mistakes, please, like the octopus with inside-out-legs!)

        • Dear Rob,
          Today I built the

          Dear Rob,


          Today I built the butterfly. I can say it is among one of the best model I have ever built! Marvellous, really. However, I experimented some difficulties in assembling the model, specially the wings. May I suggest you to put a weak line (or a photo) in order to help to line up the wings. Also, an instructions (a photo, in fact) showing the small fold of the leaf. The rest…well, congratulations again!   

          • Thanks for your feedback Hugo

            Thanks for your feedback Hugo – I'll see if I can add you ideas to the download.

  • Although I have not built

    Although I have not built every one of your models, this butterfly, with its simple, elegant and lifelike movement, is my favorite by far. thank you.

  • Talk about technology

    Talk about technology overkill!

    "'Butterfly in a Jar' Electronic fluttering fun. Tap the jar to watch…"

    Some people need to learn how to make card models!

    Interesting stand though.

  • Whoops!  The link to “Full

    Whoops!  The link to "Full instructions for construction" contained in the .pdf file is  No big deal.  I found it by changing the document name to butterfly.  Just thought you might want to know that the link in the model doesn't work.

    • Thanks for letting me know

      Thanks for letting me know Linda. I've added a link so you can get to this page by typing in /buttery as well 🙂

  • Rob: I recently completed

    Rob: I recently completed butterfly project using 4 – US 25 cent coins which correspond to the size required in the instructions. All moving parts operate freely, as does the the lever. The wings move, but don't  respond to simple vibrations as shown in your video.

    Could the weight of the coins be the culprit? I've seen posts by other hobbyists who substituted US 5 cent coins, which are just a bit lighter.

    Lovely project nonetheless; my 1 y/o granddaughter loves it! Thanks for your time.

    It is certainly worth experimenting with the weight of the coin. A heavy coin works berst for this model. Alos, make sure that your hinges are moving freely.- RI

    • i used US nickles in mine and

      i used US nickles in mine and it works with just slight movement so the coins could be the problem.but it could be lots of other things to. so i would just try changing the coins and see if that helps .

  • A pretty butterfly has set

    A pretty butterfly has set here in the Phlox



    Butterfly paper model

  • Dec 6, 2012
    I did a few

    Dec 6, 2012


    I did a few more butterflies, with US 5 cent coins, and the action was overall much better. To make cutting out the antennae easier and with fewer accidents, I added a light smear of white glue to the back of the ball end of each antenna before cutting them out, thereby stiffening the floppy end a bit.


  • Hi!
    I slightly modified the

    I slightly modified the original design to make it more "natuRealistic".

    Next time, maybe, I'll also modify the butterfly design with something "picture-like" (instead of vector-like). Something like this:

    Thanks for your project!

    • Hi crazyche, nice models on

      Hi crazyche, nice models on the site you linked to.

      I've added it to the Free Models pages on the forum.

      Thanks for sharing.

      • I forgot to share my

        I forgot to share my pictures!

        • Can you give me pdf file,

          Can you give me pdf file, thank you very much.


  • Amazing Work!!

    Amazing Work!!

    • Hello
      I’ve had a first go at


      I’ve had a first go at making this model – my first paper model. It works a bit but not nearly as it should from watching the video above. Mainly the wings don’t move much – i.e. they flutter/flap a bit but they stay almost horizontal and certainly don’t close up when the box is tipped forwards and backwards. Hope that makes sense!

      I know its a bit hard to diagnose without seeing my effort but does anyone who understands the mechanism better than I do have any clues where I might have gone wrong please?


      • Hi Robert W.,
        I have built

        Hi Robert W.,
        I have built this model. See here above. It is a bit tricky. It should not be the first model. To practice as “The agreeable sheep” as a free model.
        Important when butterfly are:
        -The wings on thin paper (copy-paper) Max. 80micron / 17lb
        -Hinges made of thin tear-resistant paper (eg tea-bag paper)
        -absolutely not a drop of glue on the hinge buckling. I hope you understand it in spite of my bad translation.

        • Many thanks for the reply
          Many thanks for the reply Michael.

          Will try the hinges in tea bag paper. Do you mean the orange hinges which join the wing stand to the wing bases, or the green hinges linked to the pendulum – or both?

          Can you clarify what you mean by ‘hinge buckling’ please – not sure which part/s you mean.

          I’ve followed the other instructions to the letter which is why I’m puzzled (I’ve build many models over the years but usually in styrene/resin/photo etched metal not paper!)

          I had another look at your video (wish the weather was like that here at the moment!) and I think I saw that the left and right wing halves are not touching each other which I understood was necessary from Rob’s instructions: “Make sure that the ends of the wings are touching each other”. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood and that’s my problem?

          Thanks again



          Hi Robert, the most important thing that Michael said is not to get glue on the hinge creases. even a small amount of glue on the crease line can cause the hinge to stiffen up. There should be a gap between the root of the wings. The line about lining up the wing tips is to make sure that the wings are symmetrical when closed.- RI

          • Thanks Rob – I think the
            Thanks Rob – I think the problem is the left and right halves of the wings are too close together down the middle of the ‘body’ (and possibly the wing bases too) – I made sure those ends touched, not the tips – didn’t think it through! Don’t think there was any glue where it shouldn’t be, but I’ll be extra careful on version 2! R

          • I’m pleased to say v.2 works
            I’m pleased to say v.2 works perfectly! Thanks again Michael and Rob. I see you’ve amended some of the instructions – the other thing I had done wrong (apart from the wing roots and wing bases being too close together) was that the pendulum was fixed to the hinge so it was too close to the edge of the hole in the top of the box – so it fouled against the edge when tipping the box. Hopefully that might help someone else. Really enjoyed my first paper model – will definitely be back for more. Rob.

            Thanks for letting me know Robert, I’m delighted that v2 worked – good luck with your other projects. – RI

  • Since it was a Valentine’s

    Since it was a Valentine's Day download I modified it with your hearts pattern sheets and added hearts instead of the leaf and butterfly.  Made it for my wife since she makes my heart flutter.  I tried to post pics from photobucket but it wouldn't work.  I can send them if you'd like.

    • That sounds great! I’d love
      That sounds great! I’d love to see pictures, please send them to [email protected]

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