Butterfly wings and Fabric in Jewelry

Can anyone help me with what materials I can use to protect
butterflywings which I want to use in my jewelry. I’ve thought of
very thin glass and possibly mica, if I can get it both clear and
smooth enough to see the wing through it. Does anyone else have other
ideas? Also does any one have experience using small pieces of fabric
in their jewelry? How did you mount it? I want it to still look
sophisticated and not ‘folk arty’ so am looking for good methods of
mounting. Thanks, Sharron

Hi there! In one of Jinks McGrath’s books she has a project for a
sterling ring with a bezel-set clear quartz cabochon – and
underneath that she placed a butterfly wing. You might try that, or
use a flat-top piece of clear quartz (more durable than glass or
mica) and set it like you would a buff-top gem (quartz angled in
slightly toward the top to give the bezel something to hang onto).
The cabochon would be easier to acquire, though.

-Kieran Dewhurst

How about mineral glass watch crystals. Or even the very flat and
thin synthetic saphire crystals. Cas-Ker at 1-800-487-0408 might be a
good source for you.

Good Luck,
Etienne Perret
Designing Colored Diamond Jewels
< www.etienneperret.com >
20 Main St
Camden, Maine
USA 04843

First, I have not worked with butterfly wings, so you might get a
better answer from someone who has. However: One thing to protect the
wings that quickly comes to mind is epoxy. Another would be a thin
piece of quartz, which would be less likely to get scratched up right
away than either glass or epoxy (and not as breakable as glass). Don’t
think mica would be practical; too fragile.


Hi Sharon, you could try covering your Butterfly wings with crystal
cabs much the same as opal triplets are made. Crystals make things
look larger kind of like a magnifying glass. I don’t know about the
material but I just saw some earrings made out of snake skin and they
were nice. Lisa do you still have those rattlesnakes on your door
step? This looks like opportunity knocking at your door! Susan Chastain

G’day Sharron;

Can anyone help me with what materials I can use to protect
butterflywings which I want to use in my jewelry. 

Microscope slide cover glasses are extremely thin. Would the slides
be too thick? Otherwise what about getting a lapidary to cut and polish
for you slices of quartz? I have a watch glass of synthetic colourless
‘sapphire’ corundum. Opticon seems to be the cement of choice for
such laminations. Cheers - but I’m sorry for the poor butterflies!!!
:slight_smile: John Burgess

Sharron, I’ve sandwiched fabric and paper between very thin acrylic
sheets and done heavy acetate overlays held in place by rivets or #90
screws to protect fragile parts which added color, texture or pattern
to metal pieces. You have to be careful that the aesthetic is
compatible or it starts looking a bit tacky fairly quickly. I once
used raw silk in a sterling and stainless steel piece. I constructed
a frame of silver, stretched and stitched the silk over another bezel
like frame, then back prong set the silk into the heavier silver frame
piece. I t looked crisp and could still be remover for cleaning.
Linda M

I haven’t worked with butterfly wings but I have worked with insect
wings. You might want to laminate the wing or part before you place a
cab over the top of it to protect it from friction. Keeps the wings or
parts together, but be careful doing the lamination, place it where
you want it because you won’t be able to move it once it’s placed. Use
the heatless laminate, you can get this cheap at walmart or a store
like that…Char

Ms. Charolette’s Gold & Gem Specialties
Rob & Charolette Purviance Jr.
P.O. Box 1354
Guthrie, OK. 73044
fax #: 405-260-7601

I haven’t worked with butterfly wings, but I have used mica as a
"window" (in a brooch) in front of something I wanted to protect. I
bought the mica from Thompson’s Enamels; it comes in sheets which are
quite thick, and are about 3" x 5". You can actually peel the sheet
and separate it into thinner layers (a very thin long blade helps with
this). The mica is transparent and virtually colorless. It is
extremely tough as long as the outer layer hasn’t been fractured so it
is flaking. You can handle it, drill it (I suggest a punch to make
holes, rather than a drill), cut it with scissors just like
construction paper. It is not all that fragile, as long as the sheet
is not too thin. If you stay with something that is at least
construction paper or manila folder weight, and the surface isn’t
broken, it should be fine. It’s fairly inexpensive so you can order
extra to play with until you get the feel for how it handles.

It’s lightweight, not subject to cracking or breaking, easily cut. I
made my brooch my simply sandwiching the mica between two pieces of
silver and riveting with very tiny rivets. Much easier to attach than
glass would ever be, and much thinner. I would encourage you to try

Hope this helps -
Rene Roberts

– My experience has been that anything that touches the wings will
destroy the color. The wings are very fragile and covered with a
powdery substance. I have some that I haven’t yet used because of
this. I would love to have a solution that will keep the surfaces in
natural condition.

	==Pisces 		@mbm

I spoke to an entomologist today, by coincidence, and told him about
this thread. He pointed out that the iridescent colors of butterfly
wings are structural and permanent, but the browns and reds are
pigments that are notorious for fading. Just thought this might be
helpful in your design plans. Will Estavillo

-- My experience has been that anything that touches the wings will
destroy the color.  The wings are very fragile and covered with a
powdery substance. 

G’day; that powdery substance you mention are the microscopic scales
that provide the gaudy (and non-gaudy) colours. Brush that off and
you don’t have butterfly wings any more. Each of those scales is
unique to the variety of butterfly, and is one way the entomologists
tell what species they have. Some of the scales have very tiny ridges
(like those of a CD) which provide some iridescence by interference
with the light waves. Cheers, – John Burgess @John_Burgess2

– John, thank you. I am much aware of this and know that this is not
true of the wings of most other insects. I work with cicada wings
very successfully, casting ,etc, but have not solved the butterfly
problem. If I could set them between plastic, etc. in some way that
keeps the material from touching the wings, while keeping the wings
from moving around between the transparent layers? ???
==Pisces @mbm

Try spraying the wings with a “very very light” coat of quick drying
sealer. Something like laquer. Very light! It fixes the scales.
Then you can sandwich them with the crystal lens.

On that note, try “artists fixative” sold in most places selling art
supplies. It’s used to stabilize things like charcoal drawings …
should work well for your application.