BY CHERYL SLAVIN
Unlike their cousins the butterflies, cicadas are not inherently beautiful creatures. With their huge red “bug eyes,” crunchy brown exoskeletons, and spindly sticky legs, their notoriety is based far more on their remarkable 17-year life cycle and distinctive song than on their visual appeal.
It is the gift of the artist, however, to see beauty where others might not and then find a way to share that vision. This summer, as cicadas began to awaken from their long slumber and make their brief but indelible mark on the world, Ginamarie Engels of Nyack picked up a delicately etched gossamer wing and found inspiration. Five months later, the 22-year-old artisan has incorporated those iridescent appendages into a distinctive line of pendants, rings and earrings which she has already started selling in stores and on line.
Although always attracted to the arts, Ginamarie did not have an extensive background in jewelry making. She had only recently started to make wire wrapped rock and mineral pendants. Soldering was still a brand new skill to be mastered. And ironically, although she grew up in Congers loving nature, she was also always afraid of insects. But when she saw the wings, she couldn’t get over their radiant beauty and unique appeal. A jewelry line took flight.
Ginamarie started with a few personal pieces, simply encasing the wing between two glass plates and then soldering it closed and applying a glaze. Very rapidly, however, friends and family started to ask for the pendants as well, and before long she was gathering wings all over Nyack and producing one-of-a-kind adornments. Inspired by the positive response, she expanded the line, and began to use more sophisticated materials like nickel-and-lead-free silver solder and copper coated silver wire.
Today her lovely designs not only incorporate the wings in a variety of unusual ways, but also include wing-shaped pendants inspired by the natural artifacts. She has also expanded into using the wings of bees, katydids, grasshoppers and other insects, and accents many of her pieces with colorful gems and minerals. It is well worth a visit to Ginamarie’s Myriad Mirage Jewelry Facebook or etsy page to see creations that have transcended their entomological origin and now only evoke ephemeral grace. It is no surprise that she has already sold over 70 pieces, including a recent large bridal party order.
The longer she works with cicadas, the more Ginamarie becomes enamored of them. She even recently donned a cicada costume for the annual Nyack Halloween parade. She has also become something of an expert on all things cicada and will enthusiastically explain, for instance, that along with being decorative cicada wings also contain anti-bacterial qualities.
In addition to being available on line at Facebook and etsy.com/shop/myriadmiragejewelry, Ginamarie’s Myriad Mirage Jewelry designs can also be found in Bee Alive of Nyack and Facewear Makeup Studio of Nanuet. The pieces currently range in price from 15 to 55 dollars.