Kentucky Tourism

Senetar, Melissa — PhbeaD, LLC

Paint Lick, KY


insect wing jewelry

Originally from Louisa, KY, Melissa Senetar came from a family of painters, quilters and interior designers. She received her BA from Pikeville College and her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Kentucky.


Melissa began making jewelry when her husband suggested she take up a hobby to lower her stress during the completion of her PhD. After graduation Melissa took a teaching position at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where she joined a bead society and learned new techniques at their monthly meetings.


After seeing pressed flowers made into jewelry, Melissa began to think about incorporating insects and in particular butterflies - into a line of jewelry.


With no information available and after a year of intense experimentation, Melissa devised a method of her own for preserving her collected insect material by overlaying it with epoxy resin. She does not net-catch or kill insects or butterflies - but only collects them when found dead along roadsides and in parks.


To create her jewelry, Melissa cuts the insect material to size, glues it onto paper and preserves it with chemicals and varnish. Placed into sterling silver frames, the wings are then overlaid with epoxy resin with a water tight hermetic seal. Each piece is cured for 24-48 hours and all of Melissa’s packaging is made from post consumer-recycled materials.


Works by this artisan can be found at Melissa’s PhbeaD shop in Berea, KY; The Alternative Jewelry Shop, Nicholasville, KY; The Painted Cow Gallery,  Louisa, KY; and at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, Berea, KY.