Insects inspire many creative reuse artists. Some make insect sculptures from recycled materials, while others actually work with live insects to make art. Get inspired by insects to make creative reuse art!
What Insects Teach About Creative Reuse
Insects are pros at creative reuse. They decompose materials and bring nutrients back to the earth. For example:
- Wasps chew up wood fiber to make their papery nests.
- Bees are constantly reusing wax to make honeycombs.
- Dung beetles roll manure into balls and creatively reuse them as food.
- For camouflage, lacewing larvae attach soil fragments to themselves and caddisfly larvae make a tube from pebbles. The masked hunter bug covers itself with wood chips and sand when it is in the nymph stage.
- When the blotched emerald moth is in the larval stage, it attaches pieces of oak leaves to bristles on its body.
- Assassin bugs actually stack dead bugs on themselves like a costume to hide from their predators.
Not only do insects creatively reuse all the time, but humans have also creatively reused insects. For example:
- For centuries, if someone wanted to dye fabric red, they would crush a type of beetle called a cochineal.
- Beetle shells have been incorporated into jewelry designs.
- Some people eat insects. I ate a dried mealworm once at a science fair. And my parents like to tell a story about when I was a toddler and ate a dried up old fly from the window sill.
- Mick Pearce designed the Eastgate Mall in Harare, Zimbabwe to keep cool without standard air conditioning, reducing energy use by 90 percent. Learn more about his work on the Green Dreamer podcast.
Insects Creatively Reused in Art
In the Midnight Garden by Jennifer Angus was an installation at the Renwick Gallery in Washginton DC. I viewed it in December 2015. Jennifer gets her insects from indigenous people mostly in Peru, Malaysia and Indonesia. She only works with commonly-found species.
Artists Who Partner with Insects
Agenetha Dyck places objects such as porcelain figurines or sports equipment in hives where the bees sculpt around them.
Johanna Griffith is a printmaker who made paper that included part of a wasp nest. Listen to the podcast episode to hear about the fun connection between Johanna and me!
Insect Sculptures from Creatively Reused Materials
Edouard Martinet – likely the best known creative reuse artist who makes mostly insects and fish from recycled materials
Mark Oliver made a series of insects called “Litter Bugs” from a wide assortment of materials such as book covers and broken glasses.
Alan Williams makes many creatures from metal – not many insects but here is a stag beetle.
Insect Crafts Made Recycled Materials
Creative Reuse Tips to Repel Insects
- Script for this podcast episode about insect-inspired creative reuse art
- Trashmagination Pinterest board about insects and creative reuse
- Join in with Plastic Free July and get ideas on how to get started in this Sustainable Brown Girl podcast.
- The Trashmagination podcast theme music is Kitchen from the Marian Circle Drum Brigade
- PS – A lot of the artists in this episode are Canadian!!! 🙂