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Chrysalis Project: Release your Butterfly!

Updated: May 20, 2022

Christina Harrelson developed this fun project you can do at home with kids (or adults!). Use whatever clay you have on hand!

1. Go for a walk to find the perfect rock for your butterfly. I like smooth flat ones, like a river rock! Maybe pick up a few, one for each pocket. Make sure they aren’t too big though, about the size of the palm of your hand is perfect. You’ve got to be able to carry them back home after all!

2. Once you have found your perfect butterfly rock, head home to set up your crafting station. To begin, all you need are some Crayons! Acrylic paint or sharpies work well too, as long as it doesn’t wash away with water.

3. Make sure your rock is clean before you begin, a quick rinse and dry in the sun for a little bit should do the trick.

Now that you have a clean, dry rock, draw yourself a butterfly! This critter could be anything you want it to be, does it have legs? How about antennae? How many eyes do you want that sucker to have? Really go nuts, after all this is YOUR butterfly!

4. Once you have divined your precious rock butterfly into existence, it’s time to cover that baby up with clay!

Check out our “Clay Safety at Home” guidelines if you are working in the house, but if the weather allows, its best to do this part outside.

5. Get your clay out and make two pancakes a little bigger than your rock. Make a rock, pancake sandwich, and then smoosh it all together until your rock is securely surrounded by it’s clay chrysalis! You can use a TINY amount of water if your clay starts to crack and to help shape your cocoon, but not a lot, you don’t want it to melt away (not yet *wink wink*).

1. Once you are done forming your chrysalis, comes the hardest part… waiting. Choose a good sunny spot on the pavement for your project to dry. If the weather is yucky, find a safe, dry spot inside for it to dry out.

You will know your Chrysalis is dry when it is hard, and not cold to the touch. The dryer it is the better, for releasing your butterfly, but I get it if you don’t want to wait too long. Wait at least a day for drying before the next step.

2. Now, you can release your butterfly a few different ways. You can leave your chrysalis outside, somewhere special, and wait for the weather to release your butterfly over time. This can be a fun task to check on the erosion every day. Most real butterflies stay in their chrysalis for 5-21 days before emerging! Check out this video of a monarch butterfly’s life cycle.

If you want to speed things up, you can help nature along by placing your chrysalis in the garden, lawn, or anywhere really and spraying it with a hose or dumping buckets of water on it. Might not be as graceful of a transition into the world, but will get the job done. The clay chrysalis should melt away, releasing your fresh new butterfly into the world!

This is a great project to repeat and make your own, after all a rock can be anything! Other fun options are dinosaurs being released from their egg, or flowers growing out of a seed!

We’d love to see pictures of your projects, please feel free to tag The Clay Studio of Missoula on Instagram or email pictures to

Happy Making!

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