Monday, December 12, 2011

Cicada Wings in the Rolling Mill

During the months of late July and through August the cicadas sing their cacophony high in the maple and elm trees in the neighborhood.  In high season their symphony can be very loud and their shells can be seen still clinging to tree trunks, which my young son liked to pick off and put into a cicada shell collection jar. Towards the end of their life span the music dwindles to a buzz here and there.  By the end of August and early September the large eyed bugs have lived their short life above ground and can be found in the grass and the sidewalks at the end of their life cycle.  Since I tend to enjoy going for walks in the neighborhood in the summer time I would stumble upon many of these ridged cicadas.  Their morphology always fascinated me in a somewhat mysterious way, especially their beautiful wings and bubble eyes. 

This last summer one of these big bugs landed on our bedroom window screen and I took some photos of it and this got me thinking about how interesting it would be to try to mill a wing and see what kind of impression it would leave.  Mind you, there is no way that I would ever touch a live bug as big as this, so you know that what I did was use one that was past it's prime to experiment.  After mustering much courage, I snapped the wing off of one of the dead cicadas and ran it in the mill against annealed copper, dipped it in liver of sulfur, drilled a few holes and polished it up .  The result was pretty fantastic. It was as if the memory of this cicada would go on for a while longer imprinted into copper.  There is something kind of cool about that. 


  1. Susan! I am looking forward to following your work on your blog. Brent showed me these earrings via Mike's FB & I thought they were gorgeous. Are you selling any of your work? I guarantee there is a market/audience for such imaginative and elegant pieces.
    Thanks for sharing

  2. What a great (and kinda creepy) picture of the bug on your screen. Too cool! The earrings are, of course, fabulous! I have to ask though- did the wings crunch to pieces after they were milled. I'm envisioning dried leaves...

  3. Hello Sherry!! I welcome you to follow me here on the blog. Thanks for looking me up. I do sell my work and am, in fact, revamping my store front. I will post the link to the store on this blog most probably after the holiday. You can bet that there will be cicada wings, too. Thank you for your awesome compliment about my work. This means a lot. Hello to Brent and Nathan.

  4. Tela, that photo is creepy. While I was taking the photo of that cicada, with my macro lens, I had to get very close. I was on high alert for the buzzing, because I was afraid I would topple over if that monster would have talked. That is a great question about the wings and leaves. Interestingly, these things seem to compress rather than shatter in the rolling mill. This compression renders the piece unusable for another rolling mill project, but since the wings stay intact they make for great resin protected jewelry or decoupage.


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