Andrew Zhu

Butterfly Wall

Image by padrinan from Pixabay

Project Timespan

A couple of days in October 2020


As a child, I would go to the Milwaukee Public Museum, a place filled with wondrous exhibits of taxidermied specimens, miniature models, and skeletons of ancient creatures. One of the coolest exhibits, though, featured live butterflies. Museumgoers entered an enclosed space, warm and aromatic to the butterflies’ liking. If you stuck out your hand and were lucky, a butterfly would land, and you would be able to observe up-close this marvel of nature.

Fast forward a dozen years, and I find myself in an apartment in New York City. Every day, walking to and from the bathroom, I would pass the long, boring hallway. My thinking of how to decorate this hallway, my thoughts drifted towards the fascinating exhibits of the Milwaukee Art Museum, and I finally had the idea of adding color with origami, so I decided on the theme of a butterfly wall.

Project Overview

In the process of clogging through my backlog of completed projects, I have realized that there are some projects that were really fast to make from start to finish. This is one such project – it only took me two days, working an hour or so each day, to complete the butterfly wall! 

Folding the Butterflies

Looking online, I found many examples of colorful origami butterfly walls. In particular, there was a site that provided step-by-step instructions of folding. Therefore, the reason it was so quick to complete the project was that each butterfly took only a few minutes to make.

The website also had an image of a completed rainbow-styled butterfly wall. The end product looked so spectacular that I more or less copied my design off of that image. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – I forgot how the second part of that quote goes…

Putting up the Butterflies

I wanted to make a rainbow-themed display with the butterflies flying upwards in the air. When arranging the colors, I made sure to overlap the colors such that there was a more continuous gradient of colors from red all the way to purple. For each of the butterflies, I used a piece of tape to stick them onto the wall. I also adjusted the angle of the wings so that there was variation between each butterfly; likewise, while each butterfly is pointed above the horizon, I oriented them slightly differently to obtain a more natural look.  

Lessons Learned & Improvements

I don’t have much to say here- sometimes the easiest and fastest projects turn out the best! The only improvement I can think of mentioning is to use a better tape to stick the butterflies on the wall.


I really love how the wall transformed from a blank white landscape to a colorful, lively display. Even though, obviously, the origami butterflies are static pieces, it does seem almost as if they are in flight, flapping their wings in search of paradise.