Some people can make anything look beautiful, but biologist Kathy Stout, Wheeling, W. Va., has a niche for the unusual. Stout and her creative partners, small insects called caddisflies, work together to create to create unique pieces of jewelry, which are on display now at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History.
Caddisflies are moth-like insects whose larvae live under water. In nature, they build protective cases out of sand grains and other debris found on streambeds and then live in these cases, sheltered from fish and other predators. Stout has created an artificial streambed for them in her home. She lines the habitat with carefully selected gems and semiprecious stones. The caddisflies substitute these materials for their normal sand and pebbles to construct their shelters. As they become adults they leave their shelters and fly away, leaving behind beautiful pieces of art for Stout to collect and craft into her unique jewelry.
The exhibit, "Jewelled Cases: A Collaboration of Art & Nature," opened April 7 and will run through August 12.
Admission to the museum is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and youth ages four to 12 and $3 for Fort Hays State University students with their Tiger cards. Children under age three receive free admission. The museum hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday and closed on Monday.
For more information, contact the Sternberg Museum of Natural History at (785) 628-4286 or visit their Web site at www.fhsu.edu/sternberg.