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How To Make A Vintage DIY Christmas Butterfly Ornament

I started this blog because of my love of vintage maps and natural history images. I used to spend many hours as a child pouring over pictorial encyclopedias. I have made this DIY butterfly Christmas ornament to reflect my interest.

I chose the vintage butterfly images from the hundreds of natural history pictures on Pictureboxblue because of their colours.

Any vintage natural history images on Pictureboxblue can be used to make these upcycled Christmas ornaments. I think the tuna can ornaments will look just as good with one of the many gorgeous bird illustrations or flower paintings on the site.

Or you might even want to use more festive-themed images such as poinsettias, penguins and polar bears or use vintage Scandinavian Christmas cards.

Making Upcycled Tuna Can Vintage Image Ornaments

The DIY butterfly Christmas ornament was made with stuff you will likely have at home. So no need to make an expensive trip to the craft store.

I upcycled old tuna cans for the main body of the ornaments, which I decorated with dictionary pages, old Christmas gift wrap scraps, and the free butterfly images on Pictureboxblue.

Last year I made also some upcycled Christmas baubles using dictionary paper and an advent calendar too. An old dictionary goes a long way and is a very cheap source of craft paper.

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What You Need To Make A Christmas Butterfly Ornament

empty tuna cans to upcycle

The Vintage Butterfly Images

I selected the images for this DIY butterfly Christmas ornament from the book “Illustrations of exotic entomology: containing upwards of six hundred and fifty figures and descriptions of foreign insects, interspersed with remarks and reflections on their nature and properties” by Dru Dury 1837.

There are twelve different butterflies to choose from. Just click on the title of the butterfly sheet to download it to your device. If you still want more butterfly images, check out the images used for this DIY butterfly art decoration.

The butterflies are the right size for an upcycled tuna can ornament if printed on a standard sheet of A4 computer paper.

Butterfly Sheet One

Butterfly images one

Butterfly Sheet 2

DIY Christmas Butterfly Ornament Tutorial

Step 1: I first cut a piece of cork to fit the base of the tuna can. This is so that there is somewhere to stick the specimen pins in.

Top tip: The tuna tin cans I used were ring-pull ones and didn’t have any sharp edges. If the cans you use have sharp edges, just file them smooth.

Cutting the cork base for upcycled tuna can ornament

Step 2: Paint the tuna cans inside and out. Even though the tin cans will be decoupaged with paper, the edges and rims will still be visible.

I used white spray paint, but red or green would also work well for the Christmas ornaments. If using spray paints, remember to use them in a well-ventilated space. (I do all my spray painting in the garden).

Spray painting tin cans.

Step 3: Next, glue the cork to the inside of the tuna can. Then cut dictionary paper to fit the base of the can and the inside rim. Stick the paper in place using decoupage glue.

I used a compass paper cutter to cut the circular paper base. However, you can draw around the tin can and then use scissors to cut out the round shape.

Cutting up the dictionary papers
decoupage tuna can

Step 4: Next, decoupage the outside of the tin can with Christmas paper. Old wrapping paper scraps would be good to use. Again cut out a paper round for the outside base of the can. Then a strip of Christmas paper to go around the rim.

Christmas paper for tin can decoupage
decoupage tin can

Step 5: Next, print the butterfly sheet you want to use. I recommend using photo matte paper and selecting the best-quality print option on your print menu settings.

Using a papercutting knife carefully cut out the butterfly, you want for the Christmas ornament.

Cutting out the butterfly

Step 6: Then place the butterfly into the tin can. Use two specimen pins, one in each wing to hold the insect in place.

Pinning the butterfly

Step 7: Finish the butterfly Christmas ornaments by wrapping the tuna tin in either wire or ribbon for hanging.

wrapping wire for hanging DIY butterfly Christmas ornament
DIY Butterfly Christmas Ornament

I love this DIY butterfly Christmas ornament so much, I ended up making three of them in total.

Three butterfly ornaments DIY
DIY Christmas butterfly ornaments
DIY butterfly Christmas decoration

Luckily, my husband loves tuna mayo sandwiches, so I will get many more tin cans to upcycle into Christmas ornaments. I think for the next batch, I will use some of the dragonfly images on Pictureboxblue.

If you are looking for ways to use maps on ornaments check out these embroidered map baubles.

butterfly Christmas ornaments
Upcycled butterfly ornament

These butterfly images would be also great to use when making decoupage placemats.

For more upcycled tuna can crafts visit


Saturday 6th of August 2022

Another way of mounting the butterflies would be to glue a slice of a wine cork (cut small enough to be discreet) to the bottom of the tuna can, and then attach the butterfly to that either with a specimen pin or glue. This means one doesn't have to buy cork sheets which can be a lot more expensive than free wine corks ;-)


Saturday 6th of August 2022

Thank you for the suggestion that is a good idea. Or you can chop up old cork tiles.


Sunday 7th of February 2021

Thanks for sharing. They turned out beautiful! My tuna cans have sharp edges What do you suggest I file them with? Thank you


Tuesday 9th of February 2021

Hi Kathy, if you have a metal file you can blunt the edges of the tuna can using that. I find the ring pull tuna cans aren't as sharp as the ones that you open with a tool.


Thursday 17th of December 2020

Those would look lovely on a strip of a beautiful print ribbon about 2" wide or a strictp of grosgrain ribbon. Thank you for the idea :)


Friday 18th of December 2020

Thank you, that is a great idea.

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