I was alerted to the very interesting artist Hubert Duprat via jeweler Frances Wadsworth-Jones (whom I will be posting about in the near future). Duprat has been experimenting with caddis fly larvae, a small winged insect related to the butterfly, who build protective cases out of found objects such as grains of sand, plant material and bits of shell that are held together by the silk it spins. Working with the insect since the 1980s, an encounter with people panning for gold led him to trying to put the larvae into a controlled environment where their found objects would be pieces of gold, precious and semi-precious stones. Sure enough, the items were used to build the cases, and you can see a video below of the action. I’m not sure of the long term viability of it as jewelry, given that the silk is likely to break down over time, but it’s a very neat concept nonetheless.
Here is another video of Duprat speaking about his work, including the caddis fly larvae.