Inspired at Home Logo

Aleene's Burnt Brown Bag
Butterfly Plant Stick
by Tiffany Windsor

This intriguing technique was discovered by one of Aleene’s designers in the early 1960’s when she was testing Aleene’s Glues for flammability.

Aleene's Burnt Brown Bag Butterfly Plant Stick Aleene: A Tacky Lady
Visit the Aleene Jackson
Craft Museum - Learn about how this amazing woman (our mom!) started the craft industry! Click here!
Aleene’s Super Thick Tacky Glue
18 gauge florist wire (cut into 3” length and bent in U shape for antenna)
Wooden skewers
Brown grocery bags
Rub ‘n Buff – gold and silver
Plumbers candle and matches (or other candle with tall flame)
Soft cloth (for wiping away soot)


Transfer your pattern to 1 layer of brown bag. We used a stencil for our pattern only tracing the outside lines.

Burnt Brown Bag Butterfly Step !Burnt Brown Bag Butterfly Step 3Burnt Brown Bag Butterfly Step 2Burnt Brown Bag Butterfly Step 4

Next, cut two additional layers of brown bag and glue all three layers together with the pattern on top. Immediately cut out the butterfly pattern. You want to do this quickly because in the next step, you need to insert the wooden skewer in between two of the layers and if you wait too long for this step, the glue will start drying making it very difficult to pull the layers apart and insert the skewer. While you’re at it insert the antenna in between two layers at the same time.

  Burnt Brown Bag Butterfly Step 5Burnt Brown Bag Butterfly Step 6Burnt Brown Bag Butterfly Step 7

Now it’s time to apply the glue to one side of the butterfly covering all of the brown bag with the glue.  Do not leave any of the brown bag exposed because it will burn if it is not covered with the glue.  Apply the glue with your finger in a generous coat. You do not want to see any of the brown bag.

Burnt Brown Bag Butterfly Step 9Burnt Brown Bag Butterfly Step 10Burnt Brown Bag Butterfly Step 11

Light the candle and hold the glued side of the butterfly right in the top of the flame. Keep the butterfly moving around at all times. In this step, you are blackening the glue.  Some bubbling will occur from the heat of the flame. This is fine and adds texture to the design but be sure to keep the butterfly moving in the flame until the entire glue surface is blackened. 

Let the butterfly set for several minutes and then gently wipe away the soot with a soft cloth. Use a gentle touch because if you press to hard, you will break through the skin of the glue. If this happens, you will see white glue oozing out. Just return that spot to the candle flame and re-burn.  Your finished side should look shiny and the glue will have turned to a shiny charcoal grey color. The surface should have ridges which either developed during the burning process or while you were wiping away the soot.  Let butterfly set for a few minutes and repeat process on back side. 

Burnt Brown Bag Butterfly Step 12Burnt Brown Bag ButterflyBurnt Brown Bag Butterfly

Apply gold and silver antiquing paste with finger lightly over the surface. Apply enough paste to add a nice patina effect but be sure to let some of the black show through.

Burnt Brown Bag Butterflies - 2 stylesTiffany’s Designer Tip: This burnt brown bag technique looks great in many different designs and several pieces grouped together make a great sculpture.  You can also use 18 gauge wire for the stem (in place of the wooden skewer).  Do not try this technique with any other glues. We have tested the Aleene’s Super Thick Tacky Glue for this technique and it is the only glue that we recommend. Also, always have a bowl of water handy just in case you have any sort of flame flare-up with the brown bag while you are burning your butterfly.

Copyright© 2008 - 2011 - All Rights Reserved
Inspired at Home Headquarters, Grasonville, MD | 410/533-6168 -