Beetle Wings in Embroidery

I am currently taking an Independent Correspondence Course on The Art of Teaching Embroidery through the Embroiderers’ Guild of America. I need to write a research paper. Obtaining research materials has been a bit of a challenge, but I finally got to the library and came home with sixteen books.

I think my chosen subject is embroidery embellishments through time and cultures. (It has to be approved by my instructor.) That phrase, “embroidery embellishment,” strikes me as redundant since embroidery is itself an embellishment (so I might as well say “embellishment embellishment”), but that’s what I’m calling it at present.

Aside: Whenever I say or think the word or idea of “redundant,” I am compelled to recite, “I should work for the Department of Redundancy department, that’s what I should do.” It’s required, kind of like “God bless you” or “You’re soooooo good-looking” after a sneeze.

Beads, buttons, charms, and sequins are all popular contemporary embroidery embellishments. Beads and buttons go way back in history, and the variety of those embellishments alone is fascinating. Then there are feathers, bones, quills, shells, gemstones, and metal. All of these have been or are used in embroidery.

Today I’m boning up on the use of beetle wings in embroidery. Beetles have an interesting history as sacred animals, ornaments, pets, symbols, trade objects, and, yes, embroidery embellishments. The best article I’ve found so far is here. I don’t know how the wings are harvested. I like to think they come from already-dead-of-natural-causes beetles, but what are the chances, really?

I’ve found a source for them on e-bay, so I may have to get some to check out. They strike me as precursors to sequins.

A picture of beetle wing embroidery can be found here.

Have you ever looked at all the beautiful beetles that exist? They’re every bit as lovely as butterflies. You’ve seen ladybugs. It’s easy to imagine the decorative possibilities of beetle wings.

Categories: Reading

7 replies »

  1. OK, so I’ll admit it. I haven’t the foggiest of the phrase “You’re soooooo good-looking” after a sneeze. I’ve never heard that one and don’t see how it applies to sneezes. While I do recall the story behind the saying of “God bless you”, that’s not helping me here.

    Please fill me in!


  2. “You’re sooooo good-looking” is an alternative to “God bless you” a-la Seinfeld.

    I look forward to seeing the beetle wings up close someday. I had a ladybug-ish beetle in my hand in the garden today and thought it would look lovely on a piece of needlework, but it was very much alive, and I liked it better that way.

  3. redundant, redundant, redundant.


    Hope your research paper goes well! I haven’t done one of those in years

  4. Kat, you should work for the Department of Redundancy department, that’s what you should do.

    You know, I love to read and I love to write, but writing a *research paper* seems like something else altogether. Why is that?

  5. I buy live ladybugs for aphid control on my roses. I don’t find many dead ones though. Many beetles have either bright colors or a wonderful metallic sheen- or both. Let us know how the research goes- and see some practical applications.