Ever since I started electroforming, I dreamt of immortalizing bugs in copper. Electroforming insects is actually pretty amazing, and they make awesome pieces of jewelry. You have probably already seen artists use butterflies, moths, and spiders on their jewelry. But, where do they find them?
If you have a garden, you probably won’t have a hard time finding dead insects, but for people, like me, who live in small apartments, it’s not that easy. I have recently started electroforming insects, and I can tell you, it took me a while to find them. So, here is where you can find insects and bugs for electroforming.
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Well, the obvious answer is in nature. If you have a garden, you will probably easily find dead beetles, wasps, and bugs that you can keep and turn into beautiful pieces of jewelry. In my opinion, this is the best way to do it. You are not harming any insect and just using what nature gives you. If you want to attract butterflies, you can grow daisies, dandelions, or butterfly bush. Since they only live for a few weeks, you’ll have high chances of finding dead ones near your flowers.
If you don’t have a garden, you can head to your local park or forest to find dead bugs. I live near a small forest and go there almost every day to find dead insects. So far, I’ve found wasps and beetles. It takes a bit of time to be honest, but if you want to source your insects without harming them, it’s the best way to do it.
2. Butterfly and insect farms
Do you live near a butterfly or insect farm? This is the type of place where you usually go with kids to spend a great afternoon. You could directly go there and ask them if you can take home some of their dead insects.
There are many farms like that everywhere in the world. To find one near you, simply type ‘butterfly farm’ or butterfly garden’ + your location. I cannot guarantee that they’ll let you take their dead specimens for free, but it’s definitely worth a shot in my opinion.
Plus, you could get pretty cool specimens, that you wouldn’t find in nature or online. Again, I think it’s a great way to get your insects since they die naturally in these types of places.
Most people obviously source their dead insects and bugs online. It’s the easiest way to get all sorts of different specimens that you wouldn’t find in nature near you.
If you want to electroform bugs but are worried about the impact on nature, you can buy ethically sourced insects. This is also something that your customers will appreciate. Beware though, ethically sourced just means that the insects are grown in farms. Therefore they do not come directly from preserved natural areas. These farms specifically grow insects for photographers, collectors, and crafters.
I have heard that some farms – especially butterfly ones – kill their insects to make them die faster… this means these insects still suffer through the process. I do not know if this is true, but I wouldn’t be surprised that it is.
But, I’m pretty sure that you can find reliable butterfly farms that sell insects that died naturally. Here is a list of websites where you can find ethically sourced insects for electroforming:
The Butterfly Company
This company was recommended to me by a fellow electroforming artist. The Butterfly Company is the oldest butterfly supplier and insect house in America. They say that most of their butterflies and insects die of natural causes. They have a wide range of specimens available. If you want to buy ethically sourced butterflies and bugs, I definitely recommend this website.
Thorne’s Insect Shoppe
Thorne’s Insect also provides ethically-sourced specimens of bugs and insects. You’ll find butterflies, moths, beetles, spiders, scorpions and more. This shop is located in Canada, and you can purchase insects for as little as $2. This is a really cool shop!
Etsy and eBay
You can find butterflies and insects on Etsy or eBay, especially in China. However, I’m really not sure about how ethically sourced they are. I personally wouldn’t trust buying ethically sourced bugs and insects on Etsy, but this could be an option for you.
If you don’t want to electroform real insects and bugs…
I know that some of you might want to electroform insects and bugs, but don’t want to use real specimens. I totally understand, and, I too, was conflicted with that for a long time. At first, I used charms of butterflies and spiders. You can easily find those in any jewelry supplies shop.
Now, I source my insects directly from my local forest and use the insects that I find dead. This way, I can electroform bugs without feeling guilty about buying them from a farm. There are other options for those who don’t want to electroform real insects.
You can find pretty realistic spider charms on Etsy. I think these charms are pretty cool, and you can still get a lot of details. Check out these colorful butterfly wings. They would be perfect for electroforming and look really beautiful. Also, look at these brass dragonfly wings that could be used for pretty interesting designs. There are a lot more options on Etsy and other jewelry supplies website. I think if you look around you can find great alternatives to real insects.
Electroforming insects is a fantastic way to preserve nature and create unique pieces of jewelry. Before you do it, I think it’s best to make sure you are getting ethically sourced insects. Whether you find them in your garden or buy them online, I’m sure you’ll find beautiful species for your next electroforming project! Where do you get your insects for electroforming? Let me know in the comments below!