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Mariah Houk

Lawrence, Kansas

Two of my favorite things have always been nature and art, so I am constantly thinking of ways to combine them. The idea for this butterfly wing jewelry came to me when I was taking a jewelry class at the Lawrence Arts Center. I was sitting in my car right before class feeling like I was out of ideas, I felt like everything had already been done. Then as I stepped out of the car a single butterfly wing fluttered over and landed right on my foot! I used that wing to make my first wing pendant, which I still have. It took a lot of experimenting with different processes and materials before I finally found a method that would retain the bright, saturated colors of the wings. To me, these pieces are mainly about color and how different sources of light cause the wings to look slightly different every time you look at them.
The wings I use come from butterfly farming programs mainly in Peru and Papua New Guinea, but some are sourced from other countries as well. The programs encourage sustainable butterfly farming as a source of income for local families. Twenty percent of the farmed butterflies are released into the wild, and the ones sold for wings are allowed to live through their entire life cycle and die a natural death.