Interactive Mural - Butterfly Wall

At our sons’ school, the kids run an organic cafe. It’s THE cutest thing and the community really rallies to support them. Aside from promoting entrepreneurship, the children also develop their own recipes, harvest some of the ingredients on campus (herbs from the garden, eggs from the chickens, prickly pear for lemonade, etc.).

Anywho, they had a festival (fall/harvest festival) coming up and asked if I could create a booth backdrop for them. As soon as they asked, my head exploded with glee and I got right to work. I knew immediately I wanted it to be two-sided, one side for cafe sales & one side for interaction.

Sketching out the basic setup. Decided I wanted one side to be faux boxwood panels + a neon quote, and the reverse side to be the interactive mural people could pose with.

Dug through our random pile o’ wood and built a frame for the boxwood. The square panels come with clips that hold them together, but they are pretty flimsy, so I used (LOTS) of zip ties to further secure them. Not pictured, but I then added cross beams for additional support. This bad boy would be standing upright and it gets pretty windy here in the desert. I didn’t think squishing oodles of small children with a butterfly mural would look awesome on a resume. I used a staple gun to attach the boxwood panels to all of the beams.

I used two sets of EL wire to create the quote, one blue and one pink. Where I didn’t want the line to shine through, I wrapped the EL wire with black electrical tape. The on/off battery packs are attached to the side of the frame for easy access.

Next, it was time to build the mural side of the installation. I used dog-eared fence slats to create this side. We had a small pile of them on the side of the house just dying for a purpose. Pretty sure I acquired them while dumpster diving at some point. :upside_down_face: :woman_shrugging:

Two layers of matte black paint.

It was FINALLY time to doodle paint! I just doodled whatever came to my mind. I’m not so great about planning designs like this. I do better, if I just blast music and see where it all goes. :crazy_face:

Looking at the time stamps on the photos, I started around 9:30 PM and finished around 2 AM. I ended up using 3 of these Mean Streak Markers. I had never used them, but found them at Home Depot and loooove them. They are awesome for doodling on uneven surfaces and they are permanent once dry (just a few minutes). If you press heavily, they leave quite a bit of texture to the paint strokes, too (though, you will squish the tip of the marking point, if you get too heavy-handed).


And more doodling…

I hid lots of words and images in the mural that mean something special to the children and faculty at the school. It’s like a giant search & find! :slight_smile:

And finally, mr.sweets4ever helped me lift the beast and build a rolling contraption for it. Now they can move it around the school easily. The wheels lock for safety, too.

Painted the legs & supports to hide them a bit and then she was ready to deliver to the school.

Boxwood side in action at the festival.

A couple of my adorable friends posing with the interactive mural side. :heart:

And my youngest working at the cafe one day. Just because he’s so damn cute in that itty bitty apron and I want to share. :grin: He was running to cars in the afternoon pick-up line to ask them if they wanted to place an order. He’s so petite, he couldn’t reach up to their car windows to see them, so he would just tap on the side of their doors to get their attention. :joy: It was the best.


This is awesome. The butterfly image is striking, I love the black and white, and so much to find in the doodles, too.
Also, great idea with the EL wire, now I want to try something like this :slight_smile:


Wow! This is amazing!

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I love everything about this! Your kid’s school and community sounds awesome! The butterfly is striking. You are wonder woman!


This is utterly fantastic! I love the dual sided wall you came up with…so much function and beauty.

P/S I love your concept illustration :wink:
Most folks make do with a quick pen and paper doodle.
Yours is along the likes of a formal project proposal :smiley:


Love this whole idea of the garden cafe at school. That’s amazing!
And that mural! It’s so striking! Very well done!!

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I can’t love this enough!

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I love this! So beautiful!

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I love everything about this!

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Thank you! And that EL wire is awesome! We near a venue that has amazing outdoor raves and the whippersnappers always create spectacular costumes with it. I finally had to try it for myself!

Thank you!

Thank you! It really is a pretty amazing place. We moved here (AZ) from Ohio and chose this location just for the school. We really wanted to be surrounded with community (sensing a pattern in our life… :laughing:).

Thank you! I’m so visual. I either draw it out with stupid, ridiculous details or Photoshop it real quick. :smile:

Thank you, thank you!

Thank you! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Thank you! :heart:

Thank youuuu!


Awwww that whole thing is one giant :heartpulse:

The interactive background is so great for everyone who loves to post clever pictures on FB/IG/etc. And I love the light up writing on the other side. So cool!

That is just awesome. I’m sure the school will love it and use it for years to come. I don’t even like coffee, but if that cute little barista came knocking on my car door, I’m sure I’d have to place an order anyway. :smiley:

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Oh my gosh! This is so beautiful! (And I always love a good marker recommendation.)

It’s such a weird product, not really a marker, even though they call it that. It feels kind of like waxy paint when wet, but dries permanent. Apparently mechanics use them often because they mark even on wet and oily surfaces. I went back and bought every color after I used them on the butterfly. I never know when I’ll need them. Supply hoarder. :roll_eyes:


What a great project. Love how people can pose in front of the butterfly.

these look super cool.

too funny

Love, love, love this project! Its ALL the things-usefully double sided, super cute and the use of magical new supplies (markers, EL wire which may or may not be on my own hoarding list now)!! What a wonderful school community as well :heart:


Woooow!! This is amazing! I love the freehand mural; there’s so much to look at in the wings!

Also, totally jealous of your son’s school! We have a few montessori schools here, but none on this level!

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Blimey, that’s stunning!

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I’m always amazed at the things that bloom in the desert! What a program, and what a contribution to it. I’m starting to believe that with supportive grown-ups involved, kids really can do ANYTHING they set their minds to (this wasn’t the message I grew up with, though for others it might be obvious).

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This project is so next level awesome - both sides!! That doodle is seriously amazing, I can’t believe you did it all in one night, WOWZA!! The kids must be stoked to have such a rad display for their cafe!

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