Thursday, June 6, 2024
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Edgewater Artist Transforms Cicadas into Unique Jewelry

Edgewater—When Sophia Catania heard about the impending cicada invasion in the Chicago area, she was ecstatic. Unlike many, she eagerly anticipated the arrival of the insects because they are a key element in her unique jewelry creations.

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Catania’s journey into this unusual art form began in 2020 during the pandemic when she started taking walks to maintain her sanity. These casual strolls evolved into nature walks where she observed and collected bug carcasses. Fascinated by what she found, she began taking the specimens home.

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Today, Catania operates an Etsy shop called Crystyleyes, where she sells jewelry and art crafted from the dead bugs she discovers. Her collection includes earrings made from butterfly wings, gold-dipped iguana vertebrae, rodent femurs, and cicadas adorned with crystals, all mounted in floating frames. Her tagline is fittingly, “Crystals and dead things, but make it fashion.”

This summer, cicadas are swarming the trees and grass on the border of Beverly and Morgan Park neighborhoods, where Catania grew up, leaving their shells and corpses scattered on the sidewalks. For Catania, who always ensures her bugs are sourced ethically and naturally—found dead rather than bought or bred—the cicada surge is a wellspring of inspiration.

Although she hasn’t encountered many cicadas in her current Edgewater neighborhood, her mother, Lisa Catania, is a dedicated supporter. She frequently uses social media to ask neighbors to collect specimens for her daughter. “What she does is pretty incredible!” Lisa said.

The abundance of cicadas this summer simplifies the task for Sophia. “They’ll be falling into my lap, literally,” she remarked.

Catania’s background as a neuroscientist and artist fuels her fascination with the intersection of nature, science, and art. She finds endless wonder in the diversity of insects, their adaptations, and their colors and forms.

This sense of wonder is central to Catania’s jewelry hobby and her volunteer work at the Peggy Notebaert Museum, where she cares for resident bugs. She hopes others will also experience this wonder as cicadas take over the area for a few weeks. “We kind of forget, as we get older, that there are so many weird, wondrous things in nature. And we just kind of learn to look past it,” she said. “It’s been a cool experience to dial back into that.”

Catania’s bug hunts and jewelry-making have transformed her walks into mindful experiences, helping her manage mental illness and live in the moment. “The act of walking and looking for insects actively has really become a mindful thing,” she explained.

She understands that bugs are not everyone’s preference but hopes the cicada emergence will change some minds. “If you’re feeling uncomfortable or scared of the cicadas, maybe do some research and learn more about their life cycle,” she suggested. “It’s such a cool thing that I don’t see how you could find them disgusting once you learn more about them and how awesome they are.”

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Alice
Alice
Alice is a seasoned jewelry designer renowned for her exquisite creations that seamlessly blend artistry with elegance. With a passion for craftsmanship and an unwavering commitment to quality, Alice has established herself as a distinguished figure in the world of fine jewelry. Drawing inspiration from diverse cultures and artistic movements, Alice brings a unique perspective to her designs, creating pieces that transcend mere accessories to become timeless works of art. Her meticulous attention to detail and insistence on using only the finest materials ensure that each creation reflects not only her artistic vision but also a commitment to unparalleled craftsmanship. Having honed her skills through years of dedicated practice and a keen understanding of evolving trends, Alice is adept at translating her clients' desires into bespoke, one-of-a-kind pieces. Her portfolio encompasses a range of styles, from classic and timeless to avant-garde and contemporary, showcasing her versatility and ability to cater to a diverse clientele.

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