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Beetle Blog

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

From this!

This time of year is usually showtime. It's getting ready for weekends away, packing and unpacking the car, manically making extra work, and trying to be ultra organised for setting up and taking down my stand. This year is still showtime, but with the focus on my website and social media posts.

I'm missing seeing visitors and other artists and makers at the fairs - catching up with regular customers, and meeting new ones. Having lots of conversations about my work, hearing stories and people sharing snippets of their lives with me, that often become part of some of my work.

One question that is always asked when people see my work is about my materials - where do I get them all from? Luckily through lockdown I had quite a few donations - I think it was the case of people being at home and having a clear out. Donations are great because it means objects aren't going into landfill, but also that I am being given surprise inspiration - which is always exciting. I usually trawl car-boot sales, charity shops and eBay for objects - but quite often I don't know what I am after until I see it. That was the case with these beetles.

They are actually hollow, and had a red sugary substance inside - you could detach the head and eat it! So after I had washed them out I had to decide what to do with them. I love it when I find objects that are pairs or multiples, and can create 2 pieces the same but different. Firstly I wanted to alter the plastic surface so I spray painted all the components. They had quite a chunky appearance, and I wanted them to become sleeker. Next I added a very fine black glitter to the legs to give them a texture, then I decoupaged the body of each insect. The papers become very fabric like when they have been soaking in wallpaper paste, and easily hug the curves of the torsos. I gave them a final coat of varnish to give a hard exterior to the paper.

Now I wanted to give them their own identity - like making up my own species of bug. I referenced several varieties, and looked at the amazing colours of some. I painted the heads with acrylic paint. It's a fine line between caricature and realism, and the aim with all my pieces is that while it may appear playful, there is a considered concept behind it.

Now the playful part - changing the silhouette of the bug. There is lots of experimenting with different objects here, pinning bits on and moving them around, until I know I have the right fit. I wanted them to be carrying around an array of treasure on their backs. The idea was that they are magpie beetles, collecting tiny pieces of treasure and adding it to their backs to create their own camouflage, whether they are creeping about in the forest, at the beach, or in our gardens. They collect whatever they find, be it organic or manmade.

Finally I added the organic materials, dried flower heads, grasses and seed pods. As the bodies were hollow I could drill and stitch right through. I've named them Beetle Bridget and Beetle Destiny and they will be available in my shop during November.

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