Perhaps it’s the time of year. Things are very Sparkly this time of year, aren’t they?
I like Sparkly! I love rich jewel tones, and I especially love them when they are combined with gold.
So when a reader asked about the possibility of doing shisha with beetle wings, a lightbulb went off. Why not? Shisha embroidery can hold practically any-shaped, flat-ish anything onto fabric. And beetle wings! Well, they are magnificently rich in color, and they can be trimmed to practically any shape.
If you’ve never heard of beetle wings being used with embroidery, you’ll find some magnificent images online. I’ve worked a beetle wing and goldwork project and written a few articles on beetle wing embroidery here on Needle ‘n Thread, including tips on preparing beetle wings for embroidery.
For the embroidery to really look spectacular with the beetle wings, I figured a metal thread – a gold thread – would be ideal. I used tambour thread #7 from Access Commodities for this tutorial. It’s a little stiff for the tiny chain stitches, but with care, it does work.
I’m using a wing that was already trimmed down a little bit into a more regular shape. I’ve already covered how to prepare and trim beetle wings for embroidery (and how to pierce them, if you’re using them for regular surface embroidery embellishment). You don’t necessarily have to trim and shape the wings, but it does make them a little more uniform, and it eliminates some of the irregularity in height across the surface of the wing.
The only thing that provides a real challenge with working shisha around a beetle wing is the shape of the wing. The foundation threads must be worked in a way that makes sense and that holds the wing securely to the fabric.
In the diagram above, beginning at “a” and traveling around the wing twice, ending up finally at “r”, you can see the order I followed in working the foundation stitches. The concept is exactly the same as working the foundation stitches for the traditional shisha stitch, only adjusted to work around the shape of the wing.
As far as the decorative part of the stitch goes, I worked the traditional shisha stitch, which you can find explained in this step-by-step tutorial. You can certainly try other variations of the stitch. I hope to down the road a bit, and if I do, I’ll share any discoveries with you.
There’s nothing at all tricky about working the shisha around the wing. When you come to the tip, just continue right around it.
The best thing about beetle wings? The way they change color in the light!
Are they green? Are they blue? Are they yellow? Gold? Copper with reddish hints? It depends on the wing! This particular wing is primarily green-blue. Some wings are green-yellow, and some are a deep coppery-yellow-bronze-gold-reddish color. (A little hard to explain!).
I always think of peacocks when I see these green-blue beetle wings. How about a goldwork peacock with beetle wings and shisha in the tail?
I’m thinking in terms of a Christmas ornament. How many days do I have?
If you want to find beetle wings online, check eBay. You’ll find them more economically and in larger quantities on eBay than you will in individual retail shops. Search for the following terms: beetle wings, beetle wings for embroidery, beetle wings for crafts, elytra wings, jewel beetle wings, or Sternocera beetle wings – so many options! Normally, they come directly from Thailand. The beetles are farmed, and the wings are collected from beetles once they are dead, after their short 3-4 week lifespan.
So, what do you reckon? Would you try shisha with beetle wings? Or is it just too weird? Happy to hear your thoughts, below!
If you’re looking for some fun stitch tutorials, feel free to visit the Stitch Fun Index, where you’ll find a whole list of stitches to explore!