This is an experiment in beetle wing and goldwork embroidery. These are wings from the Thai Jewel Beetle, Sternocera aequisignata. The goldwork design is based off of one I found online. Beetle wing embroidery was popular in parts of India and the East, and came to England during the Victorian period by way of the East India Company.
For those of you who know a lot about photography, I also have a question, behind the cut.
I pierced the wings with a sharps needle after steaming them for five minutes, and then attached them and the gold to a piece of felt-backed silk using invisible nylon thread. The gold is Kreinik #7 Japan Gold.
For some reason, once the camera *completely* focuses on the wings, it levels out the glare that makes the goldwork sparkle. In person, there are a lot more highlights. The first photo is just a tiny hair out of focus, and so it still has the light – but it tends to go away once it really locks in. Anybody know if there’s a setting or something I can adjust? I tried taking a few on manual with a variety of settings, but it still auto-focuses, and does the same thing. The best images I was able to get, were outdoors in full sun – indoors, or outdoors in shade, were even more flat.
Using the flash wipes out most of the gold. It picks up a few sparkles, but most of it seems to blend into the red ground.
At certain angles, the beetle wings shift color – they can go toward an almost coppery orange, all the way to a blue purple.
The beetle wing color is actually made by irridescence, rather than pigment. The wings are about as strong as a fingernail; they can break with bending, but are fairly tough against scratching.