Sunday, February 15, 2009

Shadow Boxes

When you teach science, some of your students become like cats; they bring dead animals to you as presents. These little offerings are usually welcome and add excitement to the day. One exception would be a pair of antlers I received after a hunting trip. The family used a chainsaw on the deer's skull so there was still flesh attached to the antlers when they gave them to me. I was unaware of this fact and left them in my class over night. The next morning when I unlocked my room, the class smelled of rotting flesh. It was pretty gross.

At the beginning of the year, one eager student brought me a dead bumble bee and a swallow-tail butterfly. She had seen my bug collection that hangs near the white board and wanted me to display her findings. I promised her I would spread both insects when I got phenol (an anti-bacterial agent used when softening insects and also used on cadavers). Then I forgot about it for a long time. Well, I recently learned that Chloraseptic throat spray contains phenol. I was both excited and a little disturbed, but I finally displayed both insects. Here is the process:

Step 1: Softening

Step 2: Spreading and Pinning (tedious, but my favorite part)
Step 3: Painting, cutting, spray glue, and a lot of mess and then . . .


If my entomology professor saw this he would probably shake his head in despair and curse the day he ever let me take his class. No, I'm not using my knowledge to hunt down bugs in Papua New Guinea and I'm not analyzing their DNA to further the phylogenetic tree, but I made something. So, yay for that!
Posted by Picasa


Kristen said...

Ohhhh---I want a framed butterfly - that is so pretty!! (no antlers though, thanks..gross)

Emily said...

That butterfly looks great! I almost threw up the first time I tried Chloraseptic b/c it tasted like the way the anatomy lab smelled. . . and now I know why!

Amanda said...

wow. i now know what i want for christmas this coming year. :)

beckie said...

I love it, plus I really like the way it looks on that pretty paper. Did you paint that?

holtkamp said...

i like your shadow box thing but i'm still scared/don't like butterflies! :)

Melinda said...

Kristen, Amanda - I could make you one if you'd like. Let me know the colors in your house. It might not get to you until summer though. I need to go catch more butterflies :)

Beckie - I wish I painted the background! It's actually wrapping paper by Snow & Graham that I order here: