Butterfly wing earrings-- evolving

I have dreamed since ordering my Glowforge in 2015 of making earrings of images of butterfly wings. I have thousands of photos I’ve taken of butterflies, from ones in nature, to butterfly houses, to Lepidoptera collections at museums (those are so much easier because they are still… but so often under reflective glass…). Using my new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil has allowed me to illustrate over top of the images to create my vectors to cut. I had been doing conversions in Photoshop then bringing into Illustrator to Live Trace, but I’m finding this illustrating via iPad process much more fun and creative, and a lot less tiresome (even though it still takes a while) than adjusting an image for a long time just with the clickety clickety of my mouse. I’ve been iterating through versions of the designs, and through materials-- all shown here are proof grade (hardwood maple, cherry, and walnut). I’m learning how thin is too thin (notice where things have broken), how close to the edge is too close, etc. I haven’t adjusted from the proof grade settings at all but am considering doing so just slightly-- still getting some burning on back of some and the thinnest spots are still charring. You can see where that’s happened on some of these test runs. Will also try newspaper below to reduce that kickback. While there’s some artistic license no doubt in my illustration from color to single tone vector, these are representative of specific species. Many may be able to spot the monarch and swallowtail in particular. While butterfly wing images are usually represented as just the upper wing, I did a few of the lower wings as well. I’m looking forward to cashing in on my Inventables gift certificate to get some 1/16th hardwood; this is all the 1/8" proof grade.



Those are just lovely! Great idea! :slightly_smiling_face:


Love these! Will you be filling the spaces with acrylic or epoxy on any of these for color?


Hadn’t planned to, at least at this thickness. Am considering doing so once I get 1/16th inch material— then doing a multilayered version (say, a solid behind these shown). I’m loving the wood color but am considering painting some as well— might be more likely to paint or otherwise color if multilayered versions work with the thinner material.


Oh, so delicate! Very pretty. I like your workflow too, seems much more organic.


Got some inspiration from this. Always room to move forward…

Nice wings.

I had an order request for dragonfly, and tried to hallow the wings but they were just too small, so ended up just engraving them instead.
Might look into this more --> doing just the wings like you did, instead of the entire bug.

The bug was a big hit as it was made, will see how just wings go…


Very cool! You found your thing!

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Wow! That engrave looks just like real wings. :sunglasses::+1:


Yes I was thinking that engraved of the entire four wing set with the color painted in would be the way to go. The inventables two color 1/16 " black on white with color added in could be quite stunning.

Those dragonflies also look amazing!


Check out Unicorn Spit as I think it would look awesome for butterflies!! Check their facebook page and get inspired by all the items these people have been making. If my desk was uncovered I would show you my Unicorn Spit butcher block desk…It is so awesome (wood grain shows through the spit/stain)


That engraving turned out beautifully!! With the vector/cut version you don’t of course get the same amount of fine detail as with the engrave, so that’s the trade off.

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Not sure anymore if I should thank you for the concept of butterfly wings, heh heh.
Searching for various wings has turned into a rabbit hole the last day or so. They are a LOT of variations.
I can easily see why you accumulated so many.

They lose something without color thouugh, so your idea of possibly painting them has some merit.

About that…
I have been doing delicate things in leather lately. Very forgiving medium and is ideal when the design gets fine or thin.
Some 4 oz leather (0.080 or so thick) is my choice for robust earrings, and it engraves and scores well for some added detail.
Best to seal it when done to flatten the soft backside, especially if you masked the back to eliminate flash since removal can pull on it and make it fuzzy, (but that is easy to do with a light spray and then pat flat).

Probably ideal for you if you wanted to thin out your wing designs more than you have so far. That 4oz leather can be cut really thin and still hold up.

If you got a hobby lobby around, they have some really pristine stuff you can play with, and if like it, then can go to Tandy for the half cows. (no marks or bug bites IS a seller for the hobby lobby stuff though).

It is their ‘RealleatherR’ brand at Hobby Lobby --> a veg-tanned tooling leather in an 8x11 sheet (which is a lot for small stuff like earrings) and is usually hanging on a hook next to their rolled up stock. Only about $9 bucks if you take one of their 40% off coupons with you.

Ok, break is over. Back to the butterfly wing images rabbit hole, lol.


Lovely! If you would share where do you get your jewelry hardware. Looking to earrings, necklaces, keychains, etc

Beautiful! This work cries out for some veneers.

If you have time, it would be nice if you would identify each species. The one in the upper right is my favorite!!! Species for My Favorite?


All really beautiful!


I haven’t made much jewelry for a few decades, so am using jewelry findings I had laying around, plus some I just grabbed from a local bead store. A friend who make and sell jewelry, though, said Rio Grande is a main online source that folks use.


Let me trace back to which photo that came from and find you the species info! Those two are definitely lower wings, though, fyi.

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What an interesting product-- I’ve never seen that before… And I agree this could be a cool application of it!

If you do decide to add some color, a great way to do it that I got from this forum (possibly suggested by Jules or Cindy?) is to use Copic markers or any other brand of alcohol markers. They’re the best coloring medium that I have found that works with the proofgrade finish. You can still see the wood grain, but it adds a stain of color to it. The best part is most Michaels craft stores have an area that you can test the marker color out and you can bring a piece of proofgrade maple etc., to test for yourself!


These are so nice, the intricacy is great.

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