Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Cicada Invasion

If you live in the northeast, you undoubtedly heard news reports earlier this year regarding the impending cicada invasion.
With 2013 being a banner year in the 17-year life cycle of these wonderfully noisy bugs, swarms of cicadas were predicted.
I remember one cicada season of my childhood in northern New Jersey.
Driving with my 5 siblings and parents in the family Volkswagen bus on the Garden State Parkway, the sound of the cicadas was all we could hear.
Even the noise of the highway traffic couldn't compete.
I was both curiously amazed and somewhat creeped out by the spectacle.
I was looking forward to this year's invasion because I had a plan...
a jewelry plan.
I was going to collect the hordes of cicadas and do something with those beautiful wings.
This was the 'hordes of cicadas' that descended on my property.
That's right...one, lonely, singular cicada that I found as it lay belly-up on my back yard patio.
How disappointing.
So...I had the wings of one cicada to implement my jewelry plan.
The wings were carefully removed.
I had no idea until I began my dissection that cicadas have two sets of wings- the large ones that you can clearly see in the photo, and a smaller set below.
I sandwiched one large wing between two pieces of annealed copper and passed the cicada wing sandwich through my rolling mill.
The wings appear delicate but this one withstood the pressure of the rolling mill surprisingly well.
A light imprint of the wing was left of each piece of copper.
Using metal shears, I cut out the wings and then treated them with liver of sulfur, hoping to better highlight the patterning.
 The copper wings were riveted with sterling wire to bases of sterling silver and etched brass, drilled and wire wrapped to become pendants.
I initially thought I would only be able to make eight pieces using the four wings of my lonely cicada.
Lucky me...my sister's friend paid her neighbor's little son to collect cicadas from their yard and pluck off the wings for me.


  1. Those are so beautiful! What gauge copper sheets did you use for such a delicate wing?


  2. I think I used 22 gauge copper and then backed that up with a heavier gauge base.