Casting butterfly wings in resin – using butterfly wings in resin

how to use butterfly wings in resinby Zell Lee

If you are interested in casting butterfly wings in resin, there are a few things you need to know first.  Butterfly wings can be a little tough to use in resin, but with some preparation and planning your projects will come out amazing!

Wondering where to get them for your next project?  You can get them in our store:  butterfly wings for resin


casting butterfly wings in resin

Casting butterfly wings in resin is an easy way to make beautiful jewelry. 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 alter slightly from direct contact with the glue. Some crafters will protect the wings between glass and solder the edges.  Unfortunately though, if it is not fully sealed and moisture gets inside, the wings can still discolor.


A great way to protect butterfly wings is by laminating them. Most office stores have lamination machines but only a few have them out for public use. Call around to find an office store where you can physically laminate the butterfly wings using their machine.  You usually only pay for the lamination pouch. If you do enough butterfly jewelry, it would be in your interest to purchase a thermal lamination machine, plus the pouches, to do this at home. Machines in the $50-100 range will suffice and are sold at office stores.

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 adjustment. I usually keep my temperature setting in the middle range.

trimming butterfly wings

Once the wings are laminated, cut around them, leaving a 1/8” border so the wings are still protected inside the lamination.

Using a paper punch on a butterfly wing


Cutting shapes after lamination

There are several ways to cut unique shapes out of the butterfly wings before laminating. You can use craft punches, leather steel punches, or cut by hand. Craft punches and hand-cutting are best accomplished when the wing is between two pieces of paper. Regular white copy paper works well. Outline where the wing is inside the paper with a marker. Next, pinch the papers with the wing inside and make your punch.

Using a metal punch on a butterfly wing

Using a metal punch on a butterfly wing

Sometimes craft punches are limited in specific sizes so you may need to find the right size using a steel leather punch.  Hammer the leather punch on the desired part of the wing while on top of a non-wood surface.  Wood will dull steel punches quickly.

Other times, you may need to result to hand-cutting. Place the wing between two sheets of paper or one piece of folded paper.  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.

using paper as a template for trimming a butterfly wing

trimming paper around butterfly wings

Trimmed butterfly wings
butterfly wing triangles
casting butterfly wings in resin

Ready for resin

Once you have your desired shape, laminate the wing.  Cut the shape leaving a small lamination border like shown above. 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 doorknobs, 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.

Butterfly wing knob pulls
butterfly wing bottle caps
Butterfly wing Christmas tree ornament
Butterfly bookmark

Ready to get started creating your own beautiful resin jewelry?  Then grab your copy of the downloadable ebook, Resin Jewelry Making.  It will take you from resin novice to resin pro in only a few hours.  It’s an Amazon best-seller!

Unpublished Blog Posts of Resin Obsession, LLC © 2020 Resin Obsession, LLC

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92 thoughts on “Casting butterfly wings in resin – using butterfly wings in resin

  1. Exactly how are you harvesting butterfly wings? There is a serious shortage of butterfly species around the world and I am concerned. I am asking since you are encouraging people to use butterfly wings in this blog and there are people who are going to think its OK to just catch and kill butterflies to get their wings. I think you need to emphasize that it is not OK to go out and kill butterflies just for their wings.

    1. Thank you for bringing this concern to my attention. Zell collects her butterfly wings from butterfly preservation farms worldwide after the butterfly’s natural passing. I have updated the tutorial to include this information.

      1. “No butterflies are harmed?”
        No doubt that is what you were told but I’m afraid you’ve probably been misled by your suppliers.

        Are the wings perfect, with no marks and chips or tears around the margins? If so, it is almost certain that the butterflies were killed as soon as they emerged from the pupae and their wings had dried. Usually, they are put into glassine or paper ‘triangles’ and then stored in the freezer. For cold-blooded creatures like insects, this is a relatively humane death but I don’t think you can consider it “natural”.

        Butterfly farms and ranches are mainly in the business of supplying pupae to living butterfly displays like ‘butterfly houses’ and zoos. Supply and demand cannot be perfectly synchronized, so a proportion of the pupae hatch before they can be shipped. These butterflies are sold as specimens and the demand from collectors, artists, etc. is very much for perfect examples – so the butterflies have to be killed before they have a chance to get damaged through the normal wear-and-tear of natural living. In fact, a few businesses only breed/ranch butterflies in order to supply specimens – the logistics of supplying living pupae is much harder.

        Now, it is possible to obtain wings from butterflies that really have naturally expired, but almost without exception these wings will show obvious signs of damage, especially around the margins. They will not be suitable for jewellery pieces featuring whole, intact wings as are so commonly seen for sale, but they can be cut down to yield useful and attractive smaller pieces. Butterfly houses can be a good source – I know of several that pick up the dead ones before opening each morning and now keep them for local art students instead of just throwing them away.

        In summary, then, if the wings are intact and in almost perfect condition you can be almost certain that the butterflies were bred and then killed for sale. A butterfly that dies naturally in near-perfect condition is quite rare and this occurs far too infrequently to support the commercial supply of specimens or wings to artists, jewellery makers, etc.

        1. Totally agree with you, Ashley. A perfect butterfly would be a rare thing if let to live out its days naturally. You only have to look closely at the butterflies in the garden to notice damaged, tatty wings. Although, not unheard of, you don’t find many dead butterflies just laying around, either, so I, too, would be a little concerned about the rather too perfect wings used in projects like these. A butterfly’s life is short enough without ending it deliberately.
          Unfortunately, I think some people won’t realise and will attempt to kill them in which case they’ll most likely crush the wings, anyway.
          To summerise, Ashley, I’m in total agreement with you….I was waffling on a bit then, sorry!! ?

          1. Just to put your mind at ease…perfect wings tells you they are not wild caught, but farm raised. Yes some are euthanized to ensure a perfect specimen, but these breeding farms also release many times more and have boosted them populations of many species significantly. It also helps preserve habitat because these farms need to be able to feed the catipilars from their natural host plant. This also protects the plants as the resource is too valuable for these farms to let it become endangered. Butterfly farms have prevented many acres of wilderness from being bulldozed for development or exploited for timber or minerals. It is one of the most environmentally beneficial industries on the planet actually.

          2. Thank you for this response. It was very well put! I sell jewelry made using one of these farms. Would you be alright with me using the response you provided to help put my customers minds at ease?

          3. This comment is very old, but I just wanted to say that it is possible to find perfect butterfly wings in the wild. I’m not sure why, but there’s a spot in my front yard where every day I come across entire wings of luna moths and butterfly wings. It’s odd, but I have now collected maybe 20+ full wing sets. I go out every morning, look down, and there’s another set of wings. I’m now looking into ways to use them, because they are absolutely beautiful.

          4. Grace, your wings are probably a product of two combined factors:
            1. Something attractive to the butterflies and moths
            2. A predator: possibly a frog, mantis or bird.
            I have seen things like that happen around lights that are attractive to moths. The predators learn where their prey like to hang out and take up residence for easy snacking. The wings aren’t of interest to the predators so those get left behind.

        2. We get our butterflies from our greenhouse. They somehow find their way inside, and I suppose the heat kills them. My 12 year old daughter just collected 15 of them in perfect condition and I had the idea that we could use them for casting in resin, which is a hobby we do together. She was going to keep them in a Tupperware bowl until they (probably) disintegrated. I think preserving them is a great option for anyone else who finds dead butterflies in their greenhouse.

          1. I cast spiders. There is no shortage of them here, however I obtain the vast majority from arachnids being stung by the wasps that are prevalent here. Once in a great while I harvest a specimen that appears in my garage, or patio, but the natural selection does help. These spiders are then preserved for further examination.

          2. Yes Amy! I also source mine from our greenhouse and our neighbours. They have all naturally expired. It’s a lovely way to honour their beauty.

        3. I raise and release butterflies of several species… there is a disease called OE in which it effects the butterflies ability to fly… also sometimes their proboscis doesn’t form right and the butterfly can not eat…and die…. Not to mention the predators that butterflies have that will attack it’s soft body and leave their wings perfectly intact…

          1. I tried to rescue a butterfly from a spider and ended up with a perfect but dead specimen. That is why I was looking at this post years later.

        4. Does the same need to be done for dragonflies? I have wings as well as whole bodies and I want to preserve them as best as possible

    2. I have many butterfly wings because my grandchildren and I decided to raise butterflies to help replenish the supplies of butterflies, especially the Monarch. We built a butterfly tent with a wonderful environment for them all. They would mate and soon after mating would die a natural death. But they would lay their eggs on plants we provided and we kept the caterpillars well fed. They then spun their crysallis and when they hatched we released them. It helped the population but we ended up with a ton of butterfly wings. We kept some of them and I still have them. There are ways to get good wings if you help the butterflies at the same time. It also help the children appreciate the butterflies and their plight. We also built a butterfly garden. If anyone is interested, you can check with “Monarch Watch” which tracks the monarch migration down to Mexico each fall. If they are coming your way, put out slices of watermelon and keep the watermelon damp with sprays of water. This gives the butterflies energy to make their journey.

    3. If any one is looking for butterflys wing all summer go to a truck stop and get them off the truck radiator free no kill. and if you raise butterflys in your garden enough of them will pass away natural

      1. 😂😂😂
        I just woke up and saw that in my email and thought you were offering them bc you drive a truck!😂 my bad. That’s a good idea tho.

  2. Just wondering, how do the rest of us get wings from preservation farms around the world? I don’t have enough $ to travel And pay for wings so, where in US?

    1. P.S. I had wings from in my yard once. Couldn’t figure it out and it got destroyed by dust. Gotta be real careful with them too. Just touching takes beautiful color off the wings. Very tender anatomical parts 🙂

    2. These butterfly wings come from preservation farms worldwide which requires a U.S. Fish and Wildlife license, international CITES license, and an exporting and importing process. We have legally imported these butterflies into the United States with the appropriate licenses so you don’t have to. Resin Obsession provides you with butterfly wing options for your craft projects.

    3. I got mine from Etsy, there are sites just for insects too. Just do a Google Search and be sure you include farm or preserve in the terms. There is also an indoor preserve near my home, there might be one closer to you than you think so try a search for that too.

  3. Can you give a more specific idea about the temperature used? Does something happen if it is too hot or too cold in our experience?

    1. I have found success with any lamination thickness type ranging from 3 mil – 10 mil. Thicker and bigger wings will require the lamination machine to be slightly hotter. If the wings didn’t seem to laminate fully the first time just send it through the machine again.

  4. Thank you for posting this very helpful tutorial. I was thinking of creating a mosaic using butterfly wings. What’s the best glue to use that will guarantee no fading of the colors, and to help preserve the wings?

    1. Erika, I laminate everything first to protect the wing. In my experience MOST butterfly wings will turn black with glue applied directly to it. I would start with water based glues though and it doesn’t seem to affect Monarch butterfly wings. If you can think of some way of protecting the wing (with lamination or a spray of some sorts) before applying the glue that would be your best bet.

  5. Thank you for the tutorial! I am a big admirer of your work. I have been making butterfly wing jewelry for a little while now, and had a hard time cutting shapes. The leather punch should be a great help. I was wondering if you have advice for drilling holes in the finished piece? I use a 1/16″ drill bit, but have a problem with getting though the laminated wing in the middle. When the drill hits it, it spins the laminated layer slightly and it separates inside the resin, sometimes breaking the resin layers off completely. Do you punch a hole in the laminated wing before applying resin? Or a hole in the wing before laminating? I hope I have described my issue well enough, and thank you!

  6. Yes Tarrah,
    I apply holes before applying resin because I had similar results as you where the resin would separate if I tried to do it after the fact.

  7. Just in case: Paint edge of lamination with clear sealant after trimming. Clear fingernail polish works well but may cause the pouch to crinkle. Super glue may frost or otherwise damage the laminating pouch. Modpodge works as long as there are no gaps in the laminate. Quick setting clear, 2-part epoxy probably would be best, if you’re a fast worker, which I’m not:(
    Thanks for the info about putting holes in laminate before resining. I was just going to use a glue-on bail, because I was afraid of this possibility.

  8. I have a beautiful blue luna moth that died a natural death. I wanted to cast it in resin. Can this be done? How exactly can I do it and still preserve the color of the wings? I don’t want to remove the wings from the body. I want to preserve the entire insect. Thank you for any help!

    1. I have dried whole bees and hornets found in my garden area using silica gel crystals. The can filled with very fine, almost a soft light sand consistency and sold mainly for drying flowers. I start with a Tupperware container large enough to hold my critter with at least 1/2 inch space left all the way around. Pour some crystals in the container, gently lay your little guy down in the bed and use a small spoon to GENTLY add more crystals until its fully covered at least 1/2 inch on all 6 sides. I will fluff up some under the wings by pushing it in from the sided so I don’t rub or break them. Put your lid on and set it somewhere warm and dry for at least a week. When I take mine out, I use a fork by sticking the tines as close to the side wall as I can so I don’t hurt the insect or flower buried inside. I slowly scoop under then up, lifting my item out slowly, letting the silica crystals just fall off. Be super careful from here on out, because they tend to be on the fragile side (much like a dried late autumn leaf). I spray mine with an aerosol can of clear gloss to not only seal, but it also gives the item a bit of protection from breakage.

  9. I don’t know how to preserve the body. I’ve always developed my methods around laminating the butterfly first to preserve the wings and natural color. That would mean removing it from the body. Good luck in your quest.

  10. Fascinating. I didn’t realize that butterfly wings have to be laminated and then resin added (or sandwiched between glass). Will share and link back!!

  11. Thanks for your tutorial! But is it illegal to kill normal butterflies/kill pearl oysters just for pearls in your area? The comments confuses me..sorry if I get it wrong.

    1. Hi Cat, I don’t know what the laws are regarding this issue, but I certainly support people using butterflies who have died of natural causes for jewelry making purposes.

  12. Hey, nice tutorial! I’d like to know more about the temperature of the laminating machine. I read that if it’s too hot the wing will turn black/be damaged and since I only have one butterfly I can’t risk myself to lose it. Also, do you have any tips for using the laminating machine? Where I live this machines are kinda rare (they got useless since ppl here liked to laminate documents but they can’t be laminated anymore) so if I have the oportunity to use it, I can’t make a mistake! Thank you in advance!

    1. A medium setting on the lamination machine is what Zell (tutorial author) recommends for laminating butterfly wings.

    1. You can either put the wings into a finding (like shown above) or you can dome resin onto the surface if you don’t want to have it within a finding.

      1. Great thanks! Where do you buy resin for crafting such as this, a craft store? And do you recommend a brand?

  13. Don’t anyone kid yourselves about the source of most butterflies. They are farmed & must be euthanized immediately upon setting their wings to produce an A1 specimen. A few morphos are net caught wild, which the seller will indicate. But most Papilio & Morphos are farmed. Consider this, no forest, no butterflies. Collecting & farming does not extinguish butterfly species, habitat destruction does. A commodity harvested from the forest gives financial incentive to the indigenous persons to conserve the tropical forest intact. Caterpillars at farms need lots of host plants, those come from the forest. Farming butterflies helps to conserve butterflies. All humans have a vocation for sustenance. If a person earns money from a protected forest through butterflies, that is a protected forest that won’t be clear cut. Yes, farmed butterflies are euthanized without experiencing a full life. But the forest that supports farmed butterflies also supports butterflies that fly naturally free.

  14. Hello! I am trying to cast full wings and butterflies, but I haven’t found a good technique yet. I of course laminate, but getting smooth edges is a challenge. I just tried one last night on wax paper and the wax paper killed the shine on one side. I’m going to try dipping and hanging it next, but if you have something better, that would be great.

  15. For the people saying this harms butterfly populations: No disrespect but you are not understanding modern butterfly collecting at all. Its the best thing that has happened to butterfly populations. All around the world there are butterfly farms. These farms breed butterflies, many of which are no longer endangered because of it. None of the online stores are selling wild caught butterflies unless they are from an historical collection, can’t say the same for ETSY and EBAY across the board, but they are extremely inexpensive from the farm raised suppliers so I can’t see why they would go to the trouble when wild caught are nearly never pristine. These farms release many times more butterflies than they sell as specimens, and most of those breed before being collected. Selling specimens supports the breeding programs. Its a win win. I agree butterflies are beautiful in the wild. Nobody would care if these were centipedes. But the truth is these farms boost populations significantly and provide income in many economically challenged communities. No I don’t own a butterfly farm.

  16. BTW a natural death for a butterfly is quite a horrifying death. It entails a slow death by starvation because some don’t actually have mouth parts and only live long enough to breed, or because their wings are too damaged for flight, or they freeze to death. That is all if they are not eaten first. So euthanizing pristine specimens to support breeding programs that boost populations and preserve habitat is not a bad thing. Also, I know they are pretty, but nobody complains when the exterminator comes to kill the roaches or a spider gets flushed down the toilet, or you kill the bugs eating your tomatoes. And yes it is the same because these farms do nothing to reduce natural populations and in fact help so saying roaches are not endangered has no weight in the arguement.

  17. That’s all you have to do as I do and when your driving around in the summer months look on the sides of the roads and pick up the ones that have been hit by cars . Sometimes they are still alive and can’t fly. I bring them home and place them on a house plant and let them pass in peace .

  18. Hi, what kind of resin gives the clearest and most durable result? epoxy, polyester, polyurethane? also, where do you get your metal shapes for the actual jewelry, the ovals and circles and diamond metal frames? thanks!

      1. Hoping to just encase the wings whole, for example a keychain, as well as to fill one of those metal shaped pendants. I’ve heard epoxy is sort of soft? also, I’m sure all those of us who are interested in making this jewelry would love a how to video on the resin use. thanks!

        1. Hi Morgan, thanks for the additional information. It is helpful. Since you are new to resin, I would suggest getting started with our beginner articles. You can find them here: Of particular interest to you might be this one, What kind of resin should I use?

          Depending on the epoxy you use, yes, they can sometimes cure soft. For what you want to do, a polyester or polyurethane resin is not a good choice because they are not doming and/or self-leveling resins. A doming epoxy resin is what I would recommend for this project. We have several in our store here: All but the Castin’ Craft epoxy resin should cure hard enough for creating keychains and pendants.

          As for videos and resin, we have a bunch to help you as well. 🙂 There are bunch of resin techniques videos on our youtube channel:

          Good luck with your project!

  19. Hello, where can I find necklace, ring and
    earring in the shape of a wing????
    I’ve seen them use resin, but I can not find them… my english is bad sorry 😛 hugs from Greece

  20. It isn’t about whether they are endangered or not , that there are plenty, if you are not using wings from butterflies who were allowed to live their life, you are part of bringing them into the world to kill them for selfish purposes. This is what we do with cows, pigs and other creatures. I choose not to be part of any of that and find butterflies on my property that have passed naturally or have been hit by cars on the roadside.
    My business and art is as cruelty free as I can possibly make it.
    I do appreciate the tutorial, though I am going to try something different for the few I find each year.

  21. You can stop buy your local greenhouse and ask for any the growers find in the houses or check roads and truck grills as they get hit and stuck there.

  22. Ok ok I’m not trying to be on either side of to kill or not to kill a butterfly, but I have found two ways that can at least be quick cause minimal damage to the wings and minimal suffering to the butterfly. However I’m sure some of you will find it distasteful.
    First I would put them in Tupperware and put them in the freezer so they would basically slow down and go to sleep and die. This would prevent them from beating themselves up in the container as much. It is however difficult to get a butterfly in a Tupperware container then into the freezer in a timely manner. My second method was inspired by watching a friend breeze stink bugs with duster so that they wouldn’t release their smell when he squished them. By turning the duster upside down it will immediately freeze a butterfly it is either slowly dying or cotton in i by turning the duster upside down it will immediately freeze a butterfly it is either slowly dying of natural or caught in a net. the important part is that it’s super fast and does zero damage. Hope this helps. *oh and if your laminator doesn’t have adjustable temp settings you can iron the laminate with a paper towel over it. ☺️

  23. Hi! I noticed after the resin dries, if I try to drill a small hole in it for a jump ring, an air bubble around it pops up. Tried adding more resin, but it seeped into the wing and made for some interesting discoloration. Any advice on making holes for jump rings without the air bubble? Thanks!

  24. It goes through the lamination, just like in the last picture shown with the bookmark, that one has a jump ring through the wing/lamination itself. Just curious if that one also had an air pocket or if there was a trick.

  25. Hi! I loved this tutorial so much!! When I try to laminate wings with my laminator, it seems that any iridescence goes away, such as with wings like the blue morpho, which lose its amazing blue color and turns faint to just being brown. Is there a better laminator/paper I should use? I got the amazon basic, which likely isn’t the best, but your wings seem to keep that amazing iridescence when laminated and mine look pretty sad! 😆 Thank you so much again for this awesome article and any help you could give!! 🙂

  26. I hope this question gets answered because Im about to start laminating and resining my butterfly wings. How did you hide the 1/8 border from the lamination sheet? I noticed you don’t see it in some of the pictures of the jewelry you have made.

  27. Do you have a website to order things from? I have been looking for someone to make costume butterfly specimen resin shower curtain rings. Lol I NEED to find someone to make these.

  28. Thank you for this information!

    I was wondering…after the initial lamination, you leave a border when you cut around the wing, but then you ‘punch’ inside the sealed area? Does this not need to be relaminated in order to close the new, open edges?

  29. We have a *thriving* praying mantis population in my neck of the woods. We found several perfect and near perfect sets of Monarch wings this year, but no bodies–we assumed they were got by some of our little green trapeze tigers.

  30. Where can I get the necklace bezels you show here? Or doyouneedtobuy them individually and attach them together?

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