Bring the outdoors in with natural collections, such as butterflies.
Warm weather brings butterflies back to the garden, but they can always be found inside homes on fabric, wallpaper, accessories and artwork. Trendy? Hardly! Egyptian hieroglyphics 3,500 years old feature artistic depictions of these winged beauties. Today, a collection of framed butterflies is a beautiful way to bring nature indoors. Place several displays among illustrations of flowers and found treasures gathered during a walk in the woods; a birds nest, a bowl of seed pods or stones, a container of branches or feathers and a few plants will complete the area.
If you are ever in San Francisco, be sure to visit Bugs Under Glass. Doing what he loves – yes, being surrounded by bugs all day! – owner and biologist Kevin Clarke creates insect displays embracing conservation and education, without sacrificing style. His studio is the only green certified insect display company in the country. Kevin enjoys teaching in a nature outreach program, working with local K thru 4 age children, and sharing his vast knowledge on insects. But be careful, his enthusiasm is contagious and you’ll leave Bugs with a newfound respect for the insect world. I love his shadowboxes featuring vintage or reproduction maps behind the butterflies and the detailed information label that is located on the back of each piece. They would be right at home with architectural pieces and old accessories. My next trip to visit our daughter will include saying hello and adding a few of his displays to my current collection.
Vintage butterfly wing trays, artwork and jewelry can easily be found online at eBay and antique websites. The design in the 1930’s inlaid chess board was mostly made with butterfly wings. The black portions are reverse painting on glass. High quality vintage pieces were made in England, where the Shipton family registered the original patent in 1923.
Wings form the water and sky in exotic souvenir pieces and in the English jewelry that became popular around 1924. Most are stamped “England” on the back for easy identification and to avoid the more modern souvenir pieces. Pieces grouped in a deep frame would make an interesting collection, with or without glass.
Fill several shelves with natural keepsakes and it becomes a cabinet of curiosities. A stairway wall is another perfect spot for a butterfly collection, allowing them to be displayed without fear of direct sunlight. Decorating with butterflies will bring beauty into your home.
(Sources: Butterflies of Egypt, Bugs Under Glass, 2009 San Francisco Decorator Showcase, ebay, Ruby Lane)
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