Welcome to this week’s edition of Friday 5! I’m getting this out a bit late today, but it couldn’t be helped. I spent 11 hours working on revising a paper yesterday, then I spent 4 hours baking for a friend’s Ph.D. defense this morning. I got about 4 hours of sleep and forgot all about finishing this post! Oops!
I’m one of those lucky people whose career and main hobby happen to be the same thing. I don’t really separate my work and my home life, so my passion for insects is clearly reflected in the things I own and the decor of my home. There are insects EVERYWHERE! I also really enjoy making things by hand and have a lot of crafty hobbies. As a crafter, I really appreciate beautiful handmade things, particularly if they feature insects. I buy a lot of insect art and I love supporting people who are inspired by insects. Today’s edition of Friday 5 is about artists I love whose work is heavily inspired by insects. In no particular order, I present 5 of my favorite insects artists!
Alex Wild, Insect Photographer Extraordinaire!
A lot of the people who read my blog regularly also read Alex Wild’s awesome Myrmecos blog, so you know what he can do. If you’re not familiar with his work, you should be – Alex is a phenomenal insect photographer! I’d consider myself an excellent photographer if I were 75% as good as he is with a camera. Unlike the rest of the people on my list today, I don’t actually own any of Alex’s work yet. When I eventually get around to buying a photo (and I will as soon as I have some spare cash and some more wall space), I think it’s going to be this one:
Love it! The colors make me so happy. And I don’t even like ants! (I get stung a lot. What can I say?)
Margaret was a grad student in my department several years ago. She’d just learned how to make lampworked beads when I met her, but she became a full time artist after completing her entomology master’s degree and now supports herself entirely on the sale of her exceptional work. Margaret also has a house full of insects and her love for them has inspired her to create several lines of insect related glass beads. I adore Margaret’s insect beads and feel lucky to own one of them myself:
This is one of the very first beetle beads she made and is downright rough compared to her current work. Her recently introduced lines of butterflies and bees are gorgeous! These beads require a ton of labor, so they’re expensive, but I think they’re worth it. Someday I’ll be able to add another MZ Glass insect bead to my already large collection of her work, but I will have get a higher paying job first.
Catherine Reece, Insect Potter
The curator of the UofA entomology collection has two coffee mugs that I absolutely love, heavy handthrown mugs with a rich turquoise matte glaze. I wanted one of my own so badly! When the woman who made them showed up at a Fourth Avenue Street Fair one year, I was ecstatic. I love Catherine Reece’s work! A lot of her pottery pieces features bright, colorful, and whimsical insects. Even better, she puts insects on things that people eat out of, so people pay good money for the privilege of eating out a cockroach bowl or drinking out of a mantid mug! I buy a new piece or two every time she’s at the street fair, so now I have my own little collection of cherished coffee mugs:
If I ever win the lottery, I’m replacing all of my dinnerware with Catherine Reece’s pottery. Maybe I’ll get the cockroaches…
Brigette Zacharczenko, aka Weird Bug Lady, Plush Insect Goodness
I am a total fabric addict! I love sewing and I’m good at it, but I also buy a lot of fabric pieces and clothing handmade by other people because I can’t get enough. I was thrilled to discover Brigette Zacharczenko’s work on Etsy! If you haven’t seen her work, check it out. Her plush insects are positively adorable and I love that some of her pieces feature animals that you wouldn’t ever see in plush form such as water fleas and water bears. She also does a lot of custom work. Behold, my custom plush giant water bug:
My water bug is based on Lethocerus americanus and I love him! He keeps watch over my desk, looking down on me menacingly from atop my scanner. He’s huge and makes a great impromptu pillow. I also use him as a prop for a lot of outreach events. Stitch this bad boy onto a jacket and I can effectively demonstrate just how big some water bug prey is relative to the size of the bugs! I am drawn to Brigette’s work for several reasons, but I think the fact that she is an entomology Ph.D. student with a crafty side like me appeals to me more than anything. I admire her for taking the plunge and selling her fantastic creations! (Aside: Weird Bug Lady is a great blog if you haven’t seen it!)
I love linoleum block prints. There’s something so primal about their sharp lines and the somewhat rustic look of the final pieces. I have a lot of block prints, but my favorite is this beetle by Foster Beigler:
The thing I love most about her work is the size of her block prints. I know you can’t really tell from the photo, but this beetle print is huge, about 2 feet by 3 feet! A lot of printmakers stick to smaller pieces that max out at about 8×10 inches, so my beetle is impressive. Insects feature heavily in Foster’s portfolio and she has done prints of a wide variety of species. I still regret not buying her smaller dobsonfly print. It was $70 I didn’t have at the time, but I’m still kicking myself for not buying it when I had the chance. Where am I ever going to find another dobsonfly print? If you want to see more of Foster’s work, you can check out her website. However, please note that the few images she has made available on her website don’t do her work justice at all. The collection of work on display when I bought my beetle far surpasses the few pieces you can see on her website.
I hope you enjoyed learning these artists! I have no idea what to do next week, so it will be a total surprise. Have a great weekend!
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