This 19th Century Art Is Made Entirely Out Of Butterfly Wings

Henry Dalton was a 19th-century micographer who created "micromosaics." Born in 1829, he had to work hard to get just the right materials for his artwork. Mainly because his medium of choice was butterfly wings.

While butterflies may disagree, Henry Dalton was by all accounts a very nice man. Not only was he a micographer — an early scientist trained to use the microscope — he helped others learn their way around a microscope as well. The paranoia and competitiveness that often marks both scientists and artists was entirely absent in him. There were few things he liked more than showing other people how to properly prepare a slide.


To make what came to be known as his "micromosaics," Dalton first designed an image, then sent off for exotic butterfly specimens. He would remove every scale with a needle, sort them, and pick up the one he wanted with a boar bristle. He breathed on the slide to push the scale into place, and very gently crushed one part of the scale, using its own oils to glue it in place.

If you have a hankering to see Henry Dalton's work, and you either live in or are traveling by southern California, stop by the The Museum of Jurassic Technology. We've covered their eclectic collection before . If you're in Los Angeles, it's a real off-the-beaten path find.


If you're planning a trip, check out The Museum of Jurassic Technology website for times when they're open. If you can't make it, their online gift shop has reels of Henry Dalton's micromosaics that you can see on a viewfinder. We thank the museum very much generously allowing us to use these images.


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