Giving dead butterflies a "second life" through jewelry - KXLF.com | Continuous News | Butte, Montana

Giving dead butterflies a "second life" through jewelry

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MISSOULA - The River City Roots Festival in Downtown Missoula hosts many unique vendors from across the country and MTN News found one man who is giving dead butterflies a second life.

In an observatory, active monarch butterflies can live up to six weeks, according to experts. And in the wild, the duration of their life span depends on the time of year.

But after death, most of these insects decompose into Mother Nature. However, one jeweler is extending the life of these beautiful creatures through art.

“The butterfly themselves are an inspiration as a whole. I try to capture the special parts about each species," Damien Settelen of Real Butterfly Wing Jewelry said. "I play with them; some I use multiple species mixed together, but I try to keep the nature integrity.”

Settelen has been perfecting this skill for over a decade. He uses nine layers of acrylic and polymer to preserve the colorful wings and designs his own settings to highlight the insect's natural beauty.

However, the process of turning a deceased flying bug into a necklace or bracelet is a tough task.  

He works closely with butterfly observatories across the globe and pays money for these dead butterflies, which in return gives observatories some funding to help the reproduction process along.

"I only support observatories that have programs going on that benefit either the people in or around the observatory," Settelen said. "Or more importantly the observatory themselves through releasing of the females and the hatching of the eggs."

Settelen travels around the country to sell his jewelry and keep the beauty of these butterflies alive. 

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