Butterflies are beautiful insects that have a very short life span. They belong to a family called papilionoidea. This term was derived from the Latin word "papilion" which means butterfly. There are four stages in their life cycle- egg, larva, pupa, and butterfly. Studies in entomology show that there are approximately 14,750 species available. The most beautiful species are the exotic butterflies. There are around 20,000 types that are classified as exotic. These butterflies are preserved after they die and are used for different art products.
Dead exotic butterflies are preserved and mounted on frames and exhibited as curios in homes and offices. They are also given as corporate and wedding gifts. The dead butterflies belonging to this species are collected and preserved in airtight and crystal clear acrylic displays. They are mounted on pegs and later framed.
This art is not only time-consuming, but also requires immense patience. Another thing that is noteworthy about this is, these frames are never mass-produced. Artisans use techniques that have been handed to them by their forefathers to handcraft these frames. Each frame is a unique piece. Most of them are made as per the requirement.
How are the Exotic Butterflies Collected?
Due to the destruction of rain forests and other natural habitats, there is a decline in the population of these lovely insects. To counter this, there are many butterfly farms that breed exotic species. Most of these farms are commercialized.
The artisans who make exotic butterfly art do not kill the insect. Instead, they purchase butterflies from these farms. Many artisans cultivate butterflies in their own plantations. The life cycle of the butterflies are approximately 30 days. When they die, they are collected and preserved.
Those artists who do not have the facility of cultivating their own butterflies purchase the dead insects from the farm. These farms make extra income by selling the dead butterflies to the artists. The farm workers gather the dead butterflies and wrap them carefully in paper bags before shipping.
Mounting an exotic butterfly on a frame is a skillful and tedious process. It is a slow and a long process, which requires very good skill and craftsmanship. The process of mounting starts once the size of the frame is decided. The artist knows exactly how many butterflies are required for each frame size. The artisan re-hydrates the dead butterflies using a special process. After re-hydration, the wings of the butterflies are spread and mounted on tiny pegs. This is a lengthy process and has to be done very carefully. The butterflies are arranged in a flight-like position. The next step is to preserve the art in acrylic boxes or panels. They are now preserved for lifetime.
To summarize, the exotic butterfly art is rapidly gaining popularity. For some, making this art is a passion, while for some, it is a hobby. However, there are people who make a living out of this. A point worth mentioning is that, the artists do not use endangered species for their work. They use only other butterflies that have completed their life cycle, to make a wonderful and a unique decoration.