Friday 5: My Other Hobbies

Okay, this post is going to be completely non-scientific, but I want to post it anyway.  Be forewarned!

When I’m not working, spending time with friends or family, or photographing things, I typically have  SOMETHING in my hands I’m working on.  I am a huge craft geek.  I don’t think I am an expert at any of the crafts that I do, but I enjoy the process of creating something from raw materials regardless of how the final product turns out.  It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that insects make their way into a lot of the crafts I do!  I think insects are beautiful and, apart from a few “cute” insects like butterflies, ladybugs, and dragonflies (I really don’t understand why dragonflies make the “cute” insect list…), they are entirely underrepresented in most crafts.  So, I make insect things.  Today I’m going to share a few projects that I’ve particularly enjoyed making.  Please note that I only photograph the things I make so that I remember what they looked like after I give them away (because I give nearly everything I make to someone else), so these photos are FAR from spectacular.


I am hard on clothes.  Any biologist that does field work is going to have an occasional catastrophic wardrobe malfunction, and I am no exception.  However, I am also a tremendous clutz and I walk too close to walls, so I have ripped more holes in knees and torn more pockets entirely off by catching them on doorknobs than I care to admit.  So, patching holes in my clothes is something I have to do on a semi-regular basis.  But why settle for a boring patch when you can embroider an awesome invertebrate one?  Though this isn’t an insect, it IS an invertebrate and it IS aquatic, so it’s my very favorite patch to date:

Daphnia patch

Daphnia patch

Is there anything cuter than Daphnia?  I think not!  And how many people have Daphnia embroidered on their pants?  Probably not very many.  I’m sure some people think I’m weird for sporting a large Daphnia on my pants, but I don’t care.  I think it’s fun!

Block prints

One of my very favorite things to do is carve things.  I don’t know why exactly, but one day when I was 10 or so, I picked up a piece of wood and a pocket knife and two hours later had a pretty decent kachina doll on my hands.  I was hooked from that moment on!  Block printing is my very favorite art form entirely because it involves carving things.  I have a limited ability to draw so my prints tend to be rather simple, but I enjoy it anyway.   This was my first attempt at a large print:

Luna moth print

Luna moth lino block print

It was too boring with just the outline, so I turned the series of prints into mixed media pieces with the block print as the base, guache for the color fills, and metallic marker for the detail on the body.  I like the way they turned out.


I have always enjoyed decorating t-shirts, ever since I was a kid.  I use a variety of techniques from drawing directly on the shirt with Sharpies or bleach to screenprinting to using my linoleum blocks to stamp the design on.  For this shirt, I painted the rectangle with metallic silver paint (because silver glitter paint = feminine) and then block printed the beetle on top:

Dung beetle shirt

Dung beetle shirt

I have a thing for dung beetles.  They have the most beautiful, elegant shapes yet spend most of their lives seeking, forming, rolling, and otherwise working with dung.  I also really like the juxtaposition of entirely non-girly things with super girly things.  Hence, dung beetle printed on a women’s tee with glittery paints.


My second favorite artistic medium behind linoleum is metal.  I’ve done everything from casting shapes from molten metal to upcycling soda cans.  You can make really fun luminaries by drilling holes in empty, clean cans, though they are surprisingly time-consuming to make.  I timed how long it took me to make this one as an argument against my sister making luminaries for her wedding:



I’m sure they would have been beautiful at her evening reception, but she had dozens of other projects planned and that simple little dragonfly took me close to an hour to do with a hand drill.  Probably would have gone faster with a drill press, but neither I nor my sister have one.  (Yet at least.  I’ve had a drill press on my Christmas wish list for 3 years now. Someday…)


When I’m in the mood for a fiddly project that takes a long time, I always start a new handmade book.  But, they’re a ton of fun to make!  This the only book I’ve made that I’ve kept for myself, and only because it is covered with this amazing paper one of my best friends sent me a while back.  The paper features three different aquatic bugs, including two of my all-time favorite insects:

Blank book

Aquatic insect covered book

Coolest paper ever?  I made this book quite a while ago, but still haven’t used it for anything.  Has you ever gotten that feeling where you have a blank book and are paralyzed by the possibilities of what you can put inside?  I should just suck it up and use this book for taking meeting notes at work because my current meeting notebook get a lot of use.  Otherwise, I’m going to spend forever trying to come up with something “good enough” to put in my aquatic insect book…

Do any of you do any sort of insect crafts or artwork?  Got photos online somewhere?  If so, I would LOVE to see what you’ve done!  Just leave a comment below and I’ll be right over to take a look.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth