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Gilding a ...Wasp? Answered

I have a  vision for a project but am unsure what would be the best means of achieving it. 

When I was a kid, I had a bug collection. My grandfather found a perfectly preserved wasp in his garage and saved it for me in a plastic syrup bottle lid. Over the decades all my other insect specimens crumbled (I was a kid, so I just had them loose in a school box without proper mounts) but this wasp is STILL intact and perfect inside the syrup cap more than 20 years later!

My grandfather was very special to me, and I was toying with the idea of somehow metal plating this wasp to turn it into a pendant. I have no experience with metal working and don't own the stuff to do it, but i'm open to purchasing materials if my goal even seems realistic.  It is a fragile exoskeleton, which probably limits what I can do in terms of casting  I have wondered about brush coating it with fiberglass resin (to strengthen it) and then painting it with gold leaf, but many of the faux gold leaf paints out there are pretty crappy looking.  

Fearing I might just end up destroying the wasp, I've also thought maybe I should just get a Ryker mount and hang him with the rest of my legit insect collection, though it is not posed properly and is likely waaaaaay too old to be re-relaxed for posing.

If any experienced jewelry makers, gold leaders, or entomologists have thoughts on how to successfully gild this wasp (or why not to), I welcome your ideas! Thanks in advance.

Discussions

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verence

3 years ago

Well, technically, gilding it is possible. Samples for scanning electron microscope are sputter coated with gold or platinum. The problem will be to find someone who can do the coating for you.

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gmoon

3 years ago

Cool... I'd think that any coating painted or deposited on the wasp would be too thin to protect it's structure...assuming you'd want it recognizable for what it is.

Would encasing in liquid plastic, maybe in some type of specimen jar be too easy?

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ashleyjlonggmoon

Reply 3 years ago

I have considered encasing it in resin, but the pose of the wasp is such that I don't think I could get away with a domed resin cabochon, it would almost need to be a complete globe. It is still an idea on the table, but to avoid the bulk and really be able to appreciate the wasp itself I thought I'd see what other options might be feasible. Thanks for the feedback. You're probably right that fiberglass resin might not toughen him up enough. I ought to find another test bug...

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Downunder35m

3 years ago

One option for such delicate things is to perform a 3D scan with enough images.
From that you use a powder or resin printer to get a "replica" with proper detail level.
Only downside is that it takes quite some time, especially if you don't have the right software to create the 3D model from images.
To get really good details I would use a high resolution digital SLR with a set of macro lenses or a reverse lens adapter.
To avoid damage place the insect on a small rotating platform with some good markings for the software to identify.
Once printed you can use the model for a direct cast although I doubt you will get all details like wings and legs in this process.

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ashleyjlongDownunder35m

Reply 3 years ago

That's probably the best of both worlds; not harming the original and getting something I can work with. I don't have access to a 3D printer locally but I have two different friends out of state who use them. I'll ask them whether they think its feasible and see what i need to provide them. Great suggestion!