Buttons made from 'beetle juice'
Lac is natural, hardened resin secreted by a tiny insect from a large species of plant sucking bugs. The Indian lac-producing insect, commonly known as Kerria Lacca, is very small and thousands settle in abundance on the twigs of host trees. They suck the plant sap while secreting the lac resin from their bodies. The lac is harvested, washed and sieved to remove insect debris and other impurities. Lac is hard, tough and brittle but is quite pliable with slow heating. Pigments can be added and the coloured lac is worked over a small flame to form the shape of the button. Small mirrors, seed beads and metal pieces are embedded into the softened lac by hand so each button is unique.