Beetle Wing Embroidery: second round, flower

This is my second attempt at beetle wing embroidery.

I learned a lot about goldwork, reading Tanja Berlin’s website, and I bought some supplies from her. I also learned a lot about lighting this kind of photography, and I think the shots turned out much better. Ironically, the solution that worked best was a simple one – stood outdoors in slanting full sun, and positioned the piece so that it was covered by my shadow. For some of them, I used an additional reflecting card to get bounced soft light.

The stems are couched in the #13 Japanese Gold, and the doodles around the leaves are Kreinik #7 Japan Gold. There are two different colors of the beetle wings; the flowers are done in the “coppery red” variety, the leaves in the more typical kind. They are both mostly green, but the ones in the leaf tend more toward purple, while the ones in the flower can flash copper over their whole surfaces in just the right angle of light.

The leaves are detailed with #10 green glass seed beads, with silver insides.

The flower hips are made from the pronotum, which is basically the bug’s “shoulder” area. They have a very neat texture, little dimples all over.

61 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. admin
    admin says:

    Not planning on it. It could be a possibility, although I’d have to figure out costs on it, etc… it goes relatively quickly, once I’ve figured out how to work it – because the gold lays in the surface, and the beetle wings cover so much fabric.

  2. ruddawg
    ruddawg says:

    I LOVE IT, simply LOVE IT!

    It seems as though the use of the natural sunlight has taken care of the lighting problem. The pictures are coming out beautifully. It really does show your work in the best light! (Pun intended)

  3. admin
    admin says:

    They will break if bent; they’re pretty strong against scratching, though. They’re about as tough as a fingernail. It certainly wouldn’t be a dress you could wear romping through the woods and then toss in the wash. But if you’re doing delicate beadwork on something, they won’t make it that much more delicate. There are plenty of records of old pieces where the dress has worn out or become unfashionable, and the beetle wings are picked out for use in a new piece.

    I’ve found that the main breaking point, is crossways to the wing’s length, about halfway up. Many designs take advantage of this fact by cutting the wings in half – by doing that, they’re VERY strong, and you have to really work (like, step on them hard) to break them.

  4. shadowduchess
    shadowduchess says:

    The lengthwise split seems a natural breaking point.
    I’m just thinking of a stunning wedding gown with these as design points.
    Of course I don’t make wedding gowns for one very good reason…bridezillas.
    Interesting to hear the history with the usage of these wings though but, it makes perfect sense.

  5. niamh_sage
    niamh_sage says:

    I was thinking bridal gowns too – how gorgeous and unusual to have a gown with these on it! Pity I already got married, dang 😛

    (ps I’d be willing to bet that most women interested in a gown with this kind of detail would not be your common or garden bridezilla).

  6. niamh_sage
    niamh_sage says:

    Just stunning. Like others in your comments trail, I’d be interested to see these worked into an item of clothing. Have you tried them on a dark background too?

  7. sclerotic_rings
    sclerotic_rings says:

    WOW. (I want to emphasize that this is NOT a criticism, but just a suggestion on new materials: when tiger beetle season starts in spring, you might want to try tiger beetle exoskeletons in your next set of embroidery. Due to a vagary of coloration in their shells, many tiger beetles look almost pixellated in their metallic sheens, and the wing cases might be even easier to use due to their strength. Just a suggestion, considering how common they are in North Dallas and how they already look as if they’ve been beaded as it is.)

  8. shadowduchess
    shadowduchess says:

    *chuckles* well, you could always wear a gown for another event.

    I’ve come across all sorts and luckily not all of them are bridezillas but there are some that are just intolerable so I stay away from wedding gowns to avoid those potential complications.
    Still this type of gown with detail would be extraordinary to make and I’d enjoy it, too bad I’m so darned busy 😀

  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Amazing

    You never cease to amaze me Michael. Not only is this unusual, but stunningly beautiful. I had never heard of this technique/material. Can’t wait to see what you’ve got up your (embroidered) sleeve next.

    Ames

  10. admin
    admin says:

    Re: Amazing

    Thanks!

    I haven’t forgotten that you want a bunch of cocoons; once I get the crafts room un-piled from holiday crap, I’ll count them out and get in touch.

  11. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Beetlework

    I am so pleased to be introduced to your site and have bookmarked it. Your work is stupendous.
    I have owned Jane Nicholas beetle book for over 12 months and never been game enough to try doing even one beetle. I am now inspired enough to try. At least I have collected a few Christmas beetles.
    Thank you.

  12. admin
    admin says:

    Re: Beetlework

    Thanks! It’s a fascinating book – I have to admit, though, that I just wanted the chapter on stitching with the actual wings, not so much the whole stumpwork beetle making part.

    If you find yourself in need of some beetle bits, let me know! I bought a LOT of them (i.e. I started out with 3 batches of 200, and went back for 1000) and at that bulk, they came down to a pretty reasonable price. I have sold a few in bags of #50 for $10.

  13. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Re: Beetlework

    Hi- I do intricate costuming and am just amazed at how beautiful your work is… I’d love to give it a go on my pieces! I’ve been looking for bulk wings and have had a tough time finding them – do you have a source or any left you’re still willing to sell? Thanks!

  14. admin
    admin says:

    Re: Beetlework

    Hey! LiveJournal tagged this as an anonymous comment, so I don’t know if this will get back to you… but here goes!

    I got them through an Ebay vendor; if you need hundreds, that would be the best source. I can share that information if you’ll email me at oakenking@gmail.com.

    If you want just a couple hundred, I’d be more than happy to sell you some of mine – I sell them for $10 for #50 wings. I bought a thousand, because I think they’re super cool and make neat weird gifts.

  15. moonrat42
    moonrat42 says:

    I am new to your journal (came here from spinningfiber), and i have to say that your work is stunning! i am just blown away.

    If you don’t mind my asking, how did you go about drilling the holes in the beetle wings? I have recently acquired a few, and want to use them in jewelry making, and i would love to not have to find out the too hard way. Thanks!

  16. moonrat42
    moonrat42 says:

    I am new to your journal (came here from spinningfiber), and i have to say that your work is stunning! i am just blown away.

    If you don’t mind my asking, how did you go about drilling the holes in the beetle wings? I have recently acquired a few, and want to use them in jewelry making, and i would love to not have to find out the too hard way. Thanks!

  17. admin
    admin says:

    I steamed them in a colander, and then pierced them with a sharp needle. Something like a pin vise to hold the needle is advisable.

  18. admin
    admin says:

    I steamed them in a colander, and then pierced them with a sharp needle. Something like a pin vise to hold the needle is advisable.

  19. admin
    admin says:

    Sure thing!

    Oh – and if you need to cut them to shape, after steaming, nail clippers are the best. Cuticle scissors are a distant second; big scissors tend to shatter the edge.

  20. admin
    admin says:

    Sure thing!

    Oh – and if you need to cut them to shape, after steaming, nail clippers are the best. Cuticle scissors are a distant second; big scissors tend to shatter the edge.

  21. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    beetle wings

    hi your work is just out of this world way beautiful, where do you get all the beetle wings for your work

  22. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    beetle wings

    hi your work is just out of this world way beautiful, where do you get all the beetle wings for your work

  23. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Re: Beetlework

    Hi,
    I just stumbled across your site while searching for ideas as to what type of needlework to use in this years christmas gift. I started out thinking embroidery, then goldwork, and then this absolutely captured my attention. I would be making very small designs, which I guess I will be designing myself. Could you please give me any first timer tips? Do you still have materials (beetle bits). I am about to order some from ebay, 200 green, 200 blueish…. but it does seem a bit overkill for me as i will only need a max of 5-10 per design. The designs will be as small as possible as i will be working on a very small space that will be framed in a very unique way… I guess the parts i am most interested in are the shoulder pieces. I haven’t seen them for sale anywhere.

    Thanks so much for your time (should u reply) 🙂

    BTW your have done a fabulous job. Really beautiful work. Definitely adding to my inspiration.

    I cannot wait to start this shiny new project.

    Kelly

    kellyschanging@yahoo.com

  24. elmsley_rose
    elmsley_rose says:

    Just found this, from a link from Mary’s site
    (what to do when waiting for the water heater to heat? Browse Mary’s site – it’s a habit.)

    Gooooorgeous.

    Now of course I have to search your blog for all other beetle-ish things/wings. *grin*

    Thankyou for your help last night. It helped.

  25. elmsley_rose
    elmsley_rose says:

    Did you realise that you can see your reflection (with camera) in the second last photo? (the blue-ish one).
    Just showing your work to a friend and he spotted it

    *grin*

  26. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Great article. I just skimmed through it because I’m at work, but you write very well — nice clear explanations and the addition of lots of photos and video are very helpful.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

Newer Comments »

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Security Code:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.