Looking at insects through a dissecting scope is one of my favorite activities. I love seeing the gorgeous textures and colors up close–it’s like entering a secret sci-fi wonderland, where you can get intimate with the alien without it eating your head. I especially like this “fantasy” world because it’s real–and because human lives are entwined with these marvelous tiny beings, even if we aren’t generally aware of it.
Not everyone has the equipment or inclination to gaze at insects through a scope, however. For them, artists can provide an accessible aesthetic for enjoying insect beauty. Mielle Harvey is my latest find. (Actually, she found me on this blog–thanks Mielle!) Her HEXAPODA collection is both artistically sophisticated and scientifically accurate enough to suit both art aficionados and entomology buffs. Check it out!
Kids of all ages like gross-out food, especially if it’s sweet. A Japanese company, Megahouse, aims to please with a DIY insect kit: the Gummi-X kit. It’s sure to up the ick factor at your next slumber party or Halloween get-together.
For around 4,300 yen (just under $50.00), you can order the kit from Amazon Japan. The “mother center” gives you a base mold, beakers, tweezers, and a measuring spoon.
The molds allow you to create two different beetles, pillbugs and crayfish. Expansion kits include molds for a tree frog and another beetle, going for 1,529 yen (about $17.00) each. If only it had botflies!!!
Check out this Japanese TV commercial for the kit – even the young actors can’t hide their “Eeeeeew!”
More pictures of the kit in use are available at this Japanese blog.
After evaluating the heck out of a paper on gene expression in bird beaks, I feel like a creativity break. As a fan of all things handmade, I have chosen to explore insect origami. Here are a few resources.
What I found ranges from the easy to the mind-bogglingly complex. Here are a couple of kid-friendly folding diagrams for a butterfly (page 1 and page 2). Here’s the link for a simple fly project.
Here are several instructional videos showing how to fold various insects. And this site hosts some PDFs for super-complex insect origami, for the obsessive kids among us.
Catherine Chalmers rocks, in my book. She takes the artist’s approach to insects and other “less desirable” organisms, and as a result shines a spotlight on all of the preconceptions (anthropomorphism) that color our ideas about insects and other small things. Cockroaches are a major theme, and she also uses flies, mantises, and geckos–CUTE geckos licking their eyes!
So, to supplement the cockroach-robots news I just posted, I’ll share a little of her work. There’s more than one way to be inspired by nature!
Here’s a link to one of her art videos. The cinematography is wonderful–breathtaking in spots.
Here is an interview in which she explains her approach. Enjoy!
Alright. It’s a little weird. And the art itself? Well, let’s just say it’s an acquired taste. But it’s worth a few words here because it’s all about insects!
Steven Kutcher–a die-hard environmentalist who apparently wouldn’t hurt a fly–has made his splash in the art world by enlisting the help of our favorite arthropods. He dips their tarsi into Gouache paint and sets them loose on paper to create artwork. (more…)
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. (more…)
Mayflies (Order Ephemeroptera) are well known to fly fishermen. They are part of an ancient lineage of insects called Paleoptera, which also includes dragonflies and damselflies. The mayfly naiad (aquatic juvenille) stage lives about a year in freshwater, including overwintering under ice in cold climates. The adults are short-lived, surviving only a few minutes to a few days depending on the species, and are often found in mating swarms. The adults don’t eat–it’s all about reproduction, baby!!
Entomology has long been concerned with survival and scientific study, but the branch of investigation that addresses the influence of insects in literature, language, music, the arts, interpretive history, religion, and recreation has only recently been recognized as a distinct field. Here, Dr. Charles Hogue talks in depth about this budding field, “cultural entomology“.
Borrowing from science fiction and fact, Insect Lab customizes real insect specimens with antique watch parts and other technological components.
Given that these pieces go for a couple grand, this seems yet another grand scheme to part the wealthy from their money. But I must admit, it’s a clever parody of the human assumption that “insects are machines”–and not very complex ones at that. (more…)