Real Butterfly Jewelry and Framed Art

Nisswa, Minnesota

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Holly Ulm

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Holly Ulm


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Quality 18 Shipping 41 Customer service 15

About Isms

Sales 2,204
On Etsy since 2012
Video summary: Welcome to our Studio ♥

Real Butterfly Conservation Art

What would Isms be without stories of metamorphosis? Life brings us opportunities to grow, change, learn, and move on. My share includes more than any of us care to have me list here. There are those experiences, however, that have left profound marks, and brought Isms into being. In a nuthouse... errr... nutshell...

I was raised as a vegetarian living in the back of my father's meat market. Not only did this teach me to ward off dogs that loved the smell of beef jerky in my clothes, it also taught me that your choice defines your life. You can choose. Again, and again. Not everyone gets a degree in meat processing before living under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, only to find yourself a vegetarian butcher. My father did, and used it as a spring board to become Crazy Cowboy Bob, Nisswa Citizen of the Year, the Clock Doc, and owner of 6 boutique stores at one time. Not to mention my self-employed grandparents, aunts, uncles, brother, and numerous friends.
Lesson One: Choose your life.

My vision for Isms's butterfly wings came on a cold day in January. For the next 5 months I researched, experimented, and tried some more to find a way of making what I saw in my head. I tried every product on the market. I told myself mistakes were cheaper than college. Let's just say it would depend on the college. I found ways of processing the wings, but none that I was really happy with the results of. I was ready to throw in the towel, and told my oldest daughter (who was 9 at the time) as much. She replied, "Don't give up, Mom. You always tell us not to give up. I know you can do it. I'll help you! We all will. Just don't give up!" Well, crap. Now we were talking life lessons, and being a proper role model. I started reading more; researching deeper; and calling on more mentors (this is where Greg first got on board). A month later I had a rudimentary process that I would spend the next year refining, and growing into. A wise man once told me, "Every problem inherently has a solution. Otherwise it would be a condition, which few things truly are."
Lesson Two: Find the best solution possible.

In the span of the three years before starting Isms: I left my husband; my home; our three retail boutiques; brought one of our stores back from fire; started two interim businesses; incurred mercury & lead poisoning; became a doula, a minister, and a reiki master; all the while raising four children without child support or government cheese. I flung myself at life with prayers of, "Thank-you. More, please. Use me." I am so grateful this has evolved into life with a business that allows me to explore my ceiling for mastering my art form, while keeping a schedule that allows me to be a present and joyful mother to three of the most wonderful kids imaginable, all while helping conservation efforts. I always knew I was capable in artistry, life, business, and motherhood. Isms allows us to meet amazing artists, and supporters; to share our passion with the world; and to work for the greater good through conservation efforts. Isms is an extension of our intentions with one another, and the world around us.
Lesson Three: Love, and give thanks.

Shop members

  • Holly Ulm

    Owner, Maker, Designer, Photography, Shipping

    My greatest lesson came early from my mother. She didn't allow coloring books, as she felt we should make our own lines. Not color-in someone else's. It is the foundation of Isms creations, and my best excuse for driving outside the lines.

Shop policies

Last updated on November 23, 2018
Thank you for your consideration of our work. We're happy to help, even if we're a little slow to respond. Please be patient and remember we're a team of two. We prioritize paid orders, and ship quickly. Let us know how we can be helpful.

Accepted payment methods

Paypal Mastercard Visa American Express Discover Apple Pay Klarna Giftcard
Accepts Etsy Gift Cards and Etsy Credits
Returns and exchanges
I gladly accept returns, exchanges, and cancellations
Contact me within: 14 days of delivery
Ship items back within: 30 days of delivery
Request a cancellation within: 2 hours of purchase
Questions about your order?
Please if you have any problems with your order.
Returns and exchange details
If you have a problem, we'll figure out a solution. We're pretty nice about things. We're from Minnesota. It's in our contract.
Expect fast turn around times through the USPS. Special shipping services available upon request.

More information

Last updated on Sep 17, 2020
Frequently asked questions
Where are the wings sourced from?

All specimens used have completed their life cycle and died of natural causes. Most specimens are purchased from conservation groups, educators, and pollinator organizations around the world, which funds efforts in butterfly repopulation and land conservation efforts. This not only helps the butterfly populations; it also allows us to use gorgeous exotic species! Donated and found specimens are also used in creating Isms art.

How do you preserve the wings?

All wing preservation is done by Holly Ulm. One of approximately 20 starting processes is used, depending on the reactions of the scales covering the wing. Regardless of process, each wing undergoes 12-25 steps from start to finish, and are treated as the individuals they are throughout. All wings undergo scale setting; color preservation (unaltered); initial hardening; at least 4 coats of jeweler's grade bio-epoxy; sanding/sculpting; and finishing. This takes approximately 2 weeks, and renders the wing waterproof, prismatic (in full sun or under a full-spectrum light bulb), non-toxic, and lightweight. The wings are hardened, yet the edges are hand tapered to a perfect finish with similar durability and care as eyeglass lenses, opal, or amb

Can I donate a specimen?

Yes! Donated found insects are graciously accepted, and honored into art. If you're interested in donating specimens, or having your own specimens preserved into art, please send to: Isms P.O. Box 194 Nisswa, MN 56468

Do you sell wholesale and/or consignment?

Yes! For more information about selling Isms work in your fine establishment, please email:

Do you gift wrap?

Gift jars for jewelry are available through this link:

Gift wrap for larger items coming soon!

Do you offer custom necklace lengths?

Although most items for sale are made in the most commonly requested lengths of 16-18", we welcome all body sizes the opportunity to wear our wings in a size that makes you feel gorgeous. Shorter and longer chain lengths may see price variances due to the amount of material used.

What about metal allergies/sensitivities?

All body chemistry is different. Isms strives to procure only the finest grade of metals, and all is lead-free. Surgical steel, sterling silver, sterling plated brass, brass, bronze, copper, and 14/20 yellow and rose gold are kept in stock. Solid golds, titanium, niobium, and other metals can be used on request, though it will take a tad longer. We can also custom-make jewelry that is metal-free for those with more severe allergies. Leather, silk, cotton, wool, hemp, sinew, and stone make nice alternatives.

How can I help pollinators?

-Learn about chemicals that are harmful to insects and pollinators.
-Plant indigenous host plants, and re-wild wherever possible.
-Many people enjoy fostering butterflies, moths, and other insects for release. If you choose to foster for release, please do your research!
-Get involved locally by helping to manage greenways.
-Get involved with Wild Ones, Monarch Watch, Xerxes Society, NAMBA, or other wildlife supporting groups.
-Participate in a butterfly count or another similar volunteer effort.

Thank you for your support of our efforts! Enough small ripples can make big waves of change! 10% of all profits are additionally donated to butterfly conservation