I have been waiting for a blog to create this post. I first heard about the jeweled cases created by caddisflies (Order Trichoptera) a couple of years ago and thought it was brilliant. French artist Herbert Duprat uses caddisfly naiads (juveniles) to turn the concepts of art and artist on their head by providing the larvae gold flakes and precious stones with which to create beautiful cases. The cases are then used as jewelry. (However, the idea is not new, as seen in this journal article from the 1930s–warning, link opens a PDF). Here’s an interview with Duprat explaining his technique, and, below, a video of the naiad building a case.
Caddisflies live in streams and rivers and are known for the protective cases they form around their bodies from pebbles, twigs, or sand. Here are some examples of what the caddisfly larvae build on their own.
(from Scotland’s Hunterian Museum Animal Architecture Collection)
(from the book Animal Artisans)