Casting butterfly wings in resin is an easy way to make beautiful jewelry. Butterfly wings are fragile and need to be protected in some way for your jewelry to last. Glue and moisture will turn iridescent butterfly wings black permanently. Non iridescent wings can withstand glue better but will still darken or be altered slightly from direct contact with the glue. Some crafters will protect wings between glass and solder the edges but if it is not fully sealed and moisture gets inside, it will still damage the wing.
A great way to protect butterfly wings is by laminating them. Most office stores have lamination machines but only a few of them have them out for public use. Call around locally to find an office store where you can physically laminate the butterfly wings using their machine and you just pay for the lamination pouch. I used to go to Office Max and the FedEx Office stores. If you do enough butterfly jewelry it would be in your interest to purchase a thermal lamination machine and pouches to do this at home. Machines in the $50-100 range would suffice and are sold at office stores.
Lamination seals the wing inside and is faster than working with glass. Since wings aren’t perfectly flat sometimes you need to laminate the wing several times or cut it out and laminate again to make sure the lamination is fully sealed. Lamination machines also have temperature settings that might need to be adjusted. I usually keep my temperature setting right in the middle range. Cut out around the sealed wings and make sure to leave around a 1/8” border so the wings are still protected inside the lamination.
There are several ways to cut unique shapes out of the butterfly wings before laminating. You can use craft punches, leather steel punches with a hammer, or hand cutting. Craft punches and hand cutting are best accomplished when the wing is between two pieces of paper. Regular white copy paper works just fine. Outline where the wing is inside the paper with a marker. Pinch the papers with the wing inside and make your punch.
Sometimes craft punches are limited in specific sizes so you may find the right size with a steel leather punch. You hammer the leather punch on the desired part of the wing on top of a non-wood surface (wood will dull the steel punches quickly).
Sometimes you need to result to hand cutting. Place the wing between paper and draw the wing and desired shape on the top paper while pinching everything in place. Carefully cut out the shape while continuing to hold the paper and butterfly wing inside in the same position.
Once you have the desired shape you need to protect the wing such as with lamination and cut out the shape again leaving a small lamination border. Once the wing is protected it’s ready for resin or to be glued into a metal finding and secured with resin.
You’re not limited to just jewelry, butterfly wings are great in home décor items as well such as door knobs, magnets, bookmarks, and ornaments! Who knows what you will come up with!
No butterflies were harmed for the purposes of this tutorial. These real butterfly wings were acquired after the butterfly’s natural passing from butterfly preservation farms worldwide.