Audrey Botha inherited jewellery from her grandmother, which ended up being the inspiration behind the exquisite pieces from Papillon Belle. Every piece is as unique as the butterfly it came from, and just as captivating.
Once we managed to stop oohing and aahing over Audrey’s adorable puppy, we asked her a few questions:
- Hello Audrey! So, who are you exactly?
I am a freelance graphic designer and illustrator based in Cape Town, South Africa. Butterflies have always been a source of inspiration to me. When I inherited two antique brooches made with real butterfly wings from my grandmother, it sparked the idea for my new range of jewellery. The brooches date back to the Victorian era and I became very interested in how you can take something as transient as a butterfly, and immortalise it in a piece of jewellery that can be passed down three generations. I wanted to create a range of timeless, classic pieces that could become family heirlooms at a time when disposable consumables seem to dominate our world.
- That’s a really nice ethos. Hello Pretty is a huge fan of lasting, quality design. Can you tell us about the wonderful things Papillon Belle makes?
Papillon Belle jewellery is special on so many levels. Each piece is handcrafted using real butterfly wings, encased in glass or perspex and set in Sterling Silver. The glass pendants are engraved with the year of manufacture on the side, making it the perfect gift for a special occasion. Each pendant comes in a luxury gift box with a certificate of authenticity containing info on the butterfly and where it’s from.
The butterflies used in my jewellery are sourced from an organisation that manages sustainable farming projects all over the world. The pendants are not only beautiful to look at, but also help to conserve the rain forests and support the farmers who depend on the forests to make a living, while preserving the populations of endangered butterflies.
- I read up on that on your website’s About page, and it’s fascinating. Who knew something as small as a butterfly could help change the world? What changes your world and inspires you?
Being a creative person, I am constantly inspired by things around me. When I encounter something that inspires me, it tends to cross-pollinate in my mind and result in new ideas. I also love working on a range of different projects and tackling a new creative problem. I love traveling and spending time with my beagle Otis.
- Hi Otis, you cutie pie. Audrey, anything interesting coming up that we should know about?
I have been working on waterproofing butterfly wings for the past 2 months and have finally found a solution after much trial and error! You can’t touch the wings or get any moisture in contact with it without damaging the wing, so waterproofing it is incredibly tricky. I will be launching the first butterfly wing rings at the end of the month.
- I just saw pictures of those on your Facebook page! Super exciting. Now, we know we shouldn’t ask you to play favourites, but do you have a favourite butterfly?
Luckily, I have a collection of 5 pendants next to my bed so every morning I choose a pendant and dress according to the colour of the wing! I would never be able to choose a single butterfly, but I would have to say the Morpho Zephyritis from Peru is pretty spectacular. The wing is actually brown, but to the human eye the one side is an iridescent turquoise blue that changes colour depending on the colour of the light. This is an optical illusion caused by light refraction taking place on tiny scales on the surface of the wing. Then the Urania Chrysiridia Ryphaeus from Madagascar is actually a moth that mimics butterflies to ward off predators. It’s a crazy looking insect covered in stripes and dots and all the colours of the rainbow. I call it my transvestite butterfly as it looks like it’s wearing too much make-up :) Madagascar is an isolated eco-system, so you tend to find insects and animals there that have evolved over time that you will find nowhere else on earth! Lastly, the Siproeta Victorina Stelenes has to be one of my favourites…for one, I love the name! It looks like something from an Art Nouveau painting and the colours are incredible (blue grey and burnt orange).