Biology instructor finds new use for insect wings

Adrienne Savoldi

Dragonfly and butterfly wings are not typical jewelry materials, but graduate student Maureen Drinkard uses them anyway. ?

Drinkard makes and sells unique jewelry made from a plethora of different substances.


“I like to use a lot of natural things, like insect body parts, feathers, chains, copper and brass,” Drinkard said. “I use a lot of earthy metals.” ?

Growing up, Drinkard said her mother taught her to be industrious. When she was 14-years-old, Drinkard she first sold her homemade jewelry and made pieces for her friends. Selling jewelry in high school combined with working two other jobs helped Drinkard purchase her first car. She stopped making jewelry after high school but started again throughout the past year. ?

“A lot of my stuff us kind of collage-y,” Drinkard said. “A lot of my earrings are weird collages with some type of form to them.” ?

Drinkard, who also has a Ph. D. in wetland ecology, sells her jewelry through her website, but she recently sold her jewelry at the Black Squirrel Festival. Drinkard said she sold 100 pieces of jewelry that day. ?

“All my good stuff is gone, so I need to get on replenishing my stock,” Drinkard said. ?

She said her favorite jewelry materials are dragonfly wings, but they are the hardest to work with because of their fragility. She also said butterfly wings are difficult because they fall apart and fingerprints easily appear. Some of her pieces include earrings, necklaces, bracelets and hair clips. ?

To make the wings stronger and more pliable, Drinkard said she uses a mix of Mod Podge and shellac.

In addition to making jewelry, Drinkard is a mother of three. Her eldest daughter is also beginning to show interest in jewelry, but according to Drinkard her daughter’s style is more 80s and bright versus her own earthy style. Arts and crafts are a huge part of Drinkard’s household, and she is extremely proud of her children. ?

“They know they can do everything and try everything. They pick things up out of necessity,” Drinkard said. “They know I genuinely respect their wants and needs.” ?

Drinkard called jewelry her “personal release” and is proud of all she has accomplished. ?

“I’m so glad that I found a way to do lots of different things and found a way to express myself in lots of different ways,” she said.

Contact Adrienne Savoldi at [email protected].