Cicada Jewelry: Wing Bling
By Emily Canal, Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.
Jul. 9–SANDWICH — Talk about lemonade out of lemons: Katheryn Maloney and Brady Cullinan made jewels out of this summer’s cicada swarm.
Yesterday, amid the tents of baked goods and vegetables at the Sandwich Farmers Market at Oakcrest Cove Field off Quaker Meetinghouse Road, their table featured earrings and necklaces made with colored beads, sea glass and dead bugs.
The business partners, both 17, residents of Sandwich and seniors at Sandwich High School, crafted the dainty pieces from the bodies of the insects that have covered areas of the Cape this summer for the first time in 17 years.
“Some people like them and some get grossed out,” Cullinan said. “We get good compliments on them and how unique they are.”
Maloney and Cullinan made about 75 earrings and 14 necklaces for the market and charged $10 each or per pair. Lavender Moon, a gift shop in Sandwich, recently purchased five earrings and necklaces to sell at the store.
Yesterday, the creative team sold out the 14 necklaces and also sold seven pairs of earrings, garnering a total take of $210. Fear not shoppers, Maloney said the entrepreneur duo plans to make more necklaces for the farmers market.
Maloney and Cullinan began crafting the pieces in mid-June after Cullinan’s mother suggested the idea. The teens recruited three neighborhood friends to collect the dead cicadas, offering 5 cents a bug.
“I’m not scared of them anymore,” Maloney said, as she let a cicada roam her hand and arm. “We are either going to sell them for the rest of the summer or until we run out of bugs.”
After collecting the cicadas, Maloney and Cullinan use a lacquer to coat the insects, giving them a hardened outer surface. The whole process takes about a day and the hardest part is guiding a needle through the body of the bug for strings or wire, Maloney said.
“We add beads, food coloring or spray paint for different styles,” Maloney said. “They are all different. Some have their wings open and some are closed.”
Beth Nyhan, 66, of Sandwich bought a pair for herself and one for her sister. “I like cicadas, they are gentle bugs and don’t bite,” Nyhan said, attaching her amber and blue earrings. “I plan on wearing these out to dinner tonight.”
The young entrepreneurs plan on attending the rest of the summer’s Sandwich markets, 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday.
And they might attempt other creatures for jewelry in addition to the cicadas.
“We are thinking of using small horseshoe crab shells,” Maloney said.
“We are definitely not trying spiders though.”
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Copyright (c) 2008, Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.
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