Several years ago a friend gave me the chrysalises of several Cecropia moths. They soon hatched and it was truly glorious. I was so enamored by their beauty! I thought what fantastic jewelry they would make. After they had passed away I tried several ways to showcase their beauty. Through much trial and error I came up with a way to preserve them virtually forever.
I make a template of each individual wing and send it to a glass cutter in Utah named Tim Trent. He hand cuts and bevels one quarter inch clear glass for each wing and sends it back to me. Every wing has glass cut just for it. I then use the glass to do all my fabrication around in either silver or gold. Sometimes just a silver bezel is more than enough. It’s pretty hard to improve on God’s creation. I feel like “Yay God, let’s just frame that”! Obviously each wing is one of a kind, but so is it’s setting. If I tear the wing or break the glass I have to start from scratch. After I make the metal setting I set the wing in very carefully using a pair of tweezers. Then I place the beveled glass over the top of it. Finally the setting is closed down around the edges. To me this is a wonderful way to preserve and celebrate something beautiful from nature. Otherwise it would be lost and destroyed by the elements. It’s very important not to get your butterfly jewelry wet. Water will seep in under the glass. So unless you go swimming or take a shower with your jewelry on, it should last forever. As a final touch I engrave the genus and the species on the backside of the piece of jewelry. This way you will always know what you have.
Butterfly wings come to me in several ways. Many I find in my garden. Others come from friends or customers themselves. Others I purchase from commercial butterfly farms. None of the butterflies I use are illegal or endangered and they are naturally deceased.
I recently had a woman have me make a pendant for her and one for her Mother. They had released butterflies at her sister’s funeral. Two butterflies were deceased when the butterflies arrived. So we used them to make the jewelry. She also had me engrave dates on the back. These pendants will be a keepsake and reminder of her sister that she will always have.
Besides butterfly wings I use the same technique for peacock feathers. I used to raise peacocks. Once a year their entire tail falls out. They leave trails of these beautiful feathers in their path. I might mention they seem to be very embarrased when this happens and they try to hide till their tail starts growing back. They definately are proud once all their feathers return. Consequently I have quite a collection. These too find their way into some of my jewelry.