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