Questions about TBP butterflies

Our standard butterflies range slightly in size, based on the design, but  are all within 3 1/4” x 3” x 1/8”. We also have some specialty sizes (large, small, and mini), but those sizes are not included in our standard kits.

Our butterflies are made of low-fire white clay and have received their first bisque firing.

Questions about painting

We supply low-fire underglazes that kiln-fire to a satin sheen. We recommend your kiln operator to apply a low fire clear top coat glaze. See below in Questions about Kiln firing for details.

NO. The backside of the butterflies should remain free of all glaze, lest the butterflies fuse to the kiln shelf during firing.

NO. Only paint the butterflies with the glazes provided by TBP in your kit. Any other paint or markers will burn away in the kiln.

NO. Although we understand the desire participants have to identify their butterflies, any writing or painting on the backs of the butterflies will burn off in the kiln firing and/or damage the kiln shelf.

NO. The glazes TBP provides are water-based, non toxic and will easily wash off without a trace.

YES. Our butterflies can be painted with acrylic paint instead of glaze but there are limitations to consider with acrylic paint- Though our ceramic butterflies have been kiln-fired once before being sent out in the kits, they are intended to receive a 2nd kiln-firing. Ceramics that have only been kiln-fired once are hard, but not as strong or durable as they would be if kiln-fired a second time. 

Also, a great advantage of glazing and kiln-firing the butterflies for a second time is that they will then be watertight & weatherproof. Butterflies that have only been kiln-fired once and then painted with acrylic paint are not weatherproof. Therefore, acrylic painted butterflies cannot be displayed outside, as the paint may crack and fade. These butterflies must be displayed inside and in areas where they will not be brushed against by people walking by. 

*If you would like to receive acrylic paint instead of glaze, please note that on your order form and contact The Butterfly Project to ensure we switch out the glaze for acrylic paint in your kits at info@thebutterflyprojectnow.org.


All of the glazes provided by The Butterfly Project are water-based and can be reconstituted with a small amount of water. We recommend adding a few drops of water and mixing with the end of a paintbrush or chopstick until your desired consistency is achieved.

Questions about kiln-firing

Step 1

Once the glaze is dry, check each butterfly to ensure there is no glaze on the back. If any glaze is there, it should be thoroughly cleaned off with a damp sponge.

Step 2

The kiln-operator should apply a coat of low-fire clear glaze to the top of each butterfly prior to kiln-firing. Though the underglazes TBP provides will fire to a satin sheen, a topcoat of clear glaze will add a desirable high shine and added protection from the elements. TBP does not provide clear glaze, but most kiln-operators have this type of glaze on-hand. If they do not, it can be purchased online or at an art supply store. We recommend: MAYCO CRYSTAL CLEAR BRUSHING GLAZE S-2102 or DUNCAN IN 1001 CLEAR GLAZE 

Step 3

Kiln-fire the butterflies to cone 04, 05 or 06.

There are likely local options available to you, such as: 

  1. You can partner with the art department of a local high school, community college, or university to have the butterflies kiln-fired.
  2. You can find a local pottery artist to kiln-fire your butterflies.
  3. You can bring the butterflies to your local pottery studio to have them kiln-fired (ie- Color Me Mine or Ceramicafe).
  4. If you are in San Diego, CA, The Butterfly Project can kiln-fire your butterflies for an additional cost of $1.00 per butterfly. Cost does not include shipping or delivery. Butterflies must be dropped off and picked up from The Butterfly Project office in San Diego, CA. 

Questions about butterfly memorial installations

Option 1- Mortar

For interior or exterior vertical walls made of plaster, sheetrock/drywall, wood, brick, stucco, or concrete, we recommend using Versabond thin-set mortar. Thin-set mortar is available in both gray and white. We recommend using the gray color, but white works just as well. Thin-set mortar is available as a powder which needs to be mixed, and in pre-mixed containers. If your installation will include 72 butterflies or more, we recommend that you use the powder thin-set mortar so that you can control the consistency. We have found that mixing the thin-set mortar to a slightly thicker consistency than the packaging suggests, that of peanut butter, affords the best results. The thicker consistency allows for less “slide” of the mounted butterflies while the thin-set mortar is setting. We also recommend that you apply a strip of blue painter’s tape that extends from the wall on one side, over the top of the mounted butterfly, to the wall on the other side of the butterfly, for at least 30 minutes. The strip of painter’s tape will help to keep the butterfly in place while the thin-set mortar is setting. 


VersaBond brand thin-set mortar is very cost efficient and can be found at Home Depot, Amazon and other retailers. Here is a link to VersaBond thin-set powder mortar at Home Depot: VERSABOND THIN-SET MORTAR, GRAY


Option 2- Adhesive

Strong adhesive is another mounting option that you can use. Liquid Nails, E6000, and Gorilla Glue all work well, but can be a bit runny. If you choose to use adhesive, it is very important that you apply a strip of blue painter’s tape that extends from the wall on one side, over the top of the mounted butterfly, to the wall on the other side of the butterfly, until the adhesive has thoroughly set. You can find these types of adhesives in large sizes and for use with caulking guns, which can help with controlled dispensing. Here are links to two adhesive at Home Depot that we have used: LIQUID NAILS ADHESIVE and E6000 ADHESIVE


Option 3- Command Picture Hanging Strips

Command picture hanging strips provide an indoor-only mounting option that can easily be removed without damage to the wall or butterfly. These strips are interlocking, similar to velcro, but even more secure. The Butterfly Project frequently uses Command strips at museums, libraries, office buildings, and community centers, where permanent memorials are not allowed. Though Command strip-mounted butterflies are very secure, we recommend that such butterflies are displayed high enough that they will not be brushed up against by people walking by. Here is a link to this product on Amazon: COMMAND PICTURE HANGING STRIPS

YES! Butterflies can be exhibited in display cases, suspended on wire, attached to chain link fences, or any other way you can imagine. If you need guidance devising an alternative way to display your butterflies, please feel free to contact us at: info@thebutterflyprojectnow.org.

YES! Butterflies that are glazed and kiln-fired are extremely durable and can be mounted either indoor or outdoor, even in locations with drastic shifts in weather conditions, temperatures, and humidity. 

However, butterflies that have been painted with acrylic paint are not weatherproof. Therefore, acrylic painted butterflies cannot be displayed outside. These butterflies must be displayed inside and in areas where they will not be brushed against by people walking by. 

Please don’t be intimidated by designing your butterfly memorial. Your design can be as simple or as complicated as you want. We encourage you to involve your students and/or colleagues in the design and installation process. It’s a good idea to design your butterfly memorial with the potential to add more butterflies in the years to come. We recommend that you first create a sketch of your design and then map out where each butterfly will go using chalk or pieces of tape on the wall. Your butterflies can be positioned in many ways, such as:

  1. To look like they are flying
  2. In various shapes such as a heart, leaves of a tree, or large butterfly
  3. In the shape of letters that spell something significant
  4. In lines bordering the architectural elements of the installation space

For inspiration, we encourage you to look at the examples on our website of butterfly memorials from around the world at TBP BUTTERFLY MEMORIAL INSTALLATIONS. You are also welcome to contact us for more design support at info@thebutterflyprojectnow.org.

YES! TBP’s Co-Founder and Executive Director is a professional Artist, Cheryl Rattner Price. Cheryl’s professional design and installation services are available at an additional cost. Please contact us to learn more about this option at info@thebutterflyprojectnow.org.