Saturday, March 29, 2008

Contest!!! What's it doing???

Here's a question for you: what is this dragonfly doing?
There is a certain term that describes this silly looking behavior. If you know it, leave a comment and you could win one of my baby monsters!
Comments will be moderated so you can't see the other guesses. Please leave either your etsy name or email address so I may contact you if you win. Everyone with a correct answer will be put into a drawing, with a name picked at random. The baby monster will also be chosen at random.

Contest will end Tuesday (April 1st), at 10pm EST.

Good luck!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


My latest creation is actually a set of creations: a butterfly net, cage, four butterflies, and a moth. They're for sale in my etsy shop but I'm not sure I want to give them up!
The insects are:
Cabbage butterfly (white with black spots)
White admiral (black with white stripes)
Common wood nymph (brown with yellow and black spots)
Gray hairstreak (gray with tails and red spots)
Luna moth (green with white spots and body)

As a child, my dad taught me how to catch butterflies, using a net my grandfather made for me. That butterfly net was my companion for many years, until in my teens it started to fall apart and I bought myself a professional one. I'd spend nearly every summer day outside in my backyard, patrolling. Butterflies, and just about anything else that moved, were chased down, captured, and examined.

I think it's really important to take the time to observe the world around us. Appreciate the little things, the unexpected things. Too many people are in a big rush these days, there's always somewhere to go or something to do or someone to talk to on facebook. Slowing things down and letting yourself feel like a kid is important once in a while. I still go out and catch bugs, because there's always something new to learn.

As my professor says, "get out there and poke nature!"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A little divergence... KITTIES!

Ok, so cats aren't exactly "creepy crawlies" but I just HAVE to share my latest etsy purchase with all of you. The lovely Hamster of etsy created these kittie plushies in the likeness of my two cats, Skyler and Sherman! I sent her pictures of my cats, and here's what I got:
Love love love love love!!!!!!! AHHHHH!!! They're so perfect! Skyler is on the left, with the stripes and pretty face. Sherman is the pouty one that resembles a russian blue. They're brother and sister, I picked them out from a neighbor's litter of kittens when I was three years old. They are at home while I'm here at college, and I miss them like crazy.

Guess you should see what they really look like...

Hamster offers lots of different cat breed plushies in her shop, and will do custom orders like mine in the likeness of your own cats. She also has some silly looking bunnies.

I'm currently working on a sewing project that's a bit different, involving butterflies. Not sure how much longer it'll take me but I'll certainly update once it's all done.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bugs bugs bugs

New banner for my shop:
I changed my avy to the caterpillar, I think he's less evil looking than the mosquito.

I also took a picture of the gang all together:
However, this is missing the caddisfly larvae and house fly (both sold), as well as my latest little creations, Mindy Marsha and Melissa the three mealybugs!Mealybugs are nasty, fuzzy, hairy little pests that congregate on plants to suck the juices out. This makes them abhorred crop pests, but they're also kind of cute. They are a type of scale insect (order Hemiptera, the true bugs), though unlike the other scales, they retain their legs and can move around. The females have very reduced body parts and lack wings. They secrete a waxy substance all over their bodies, making them look powdery and furry.

Like aphids, they create a honey-dew substance from their abdomens as they feed. This attracts ants, and they have a similar sort of mutualistic relationship as ants and aphids do. The ants care for and protect the mealybugs, while the mealybugs provide the honey-dew as food. It is when this relationship occurs that the mealybugs can become serious pests, because they aren't being controlled by predators.

I have some ambitious projects in the works, stay tuned :)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Crazy Caterpillars

Everybody loves caterpillars, right?

Introducing Timmy, the tobacco hornworm.He's the latest addition to my collection of gigantic insect soft sculptures, for sale in my etsy shop. Hand sewing his stripes and spiracles was tedious work, but well worth it. He's so cuddly and squishy!

And now I'd like to talk a bit about caterpillars. As most of you probably know, they're part of the life cycle of butterflies and moths. These insects of the order Lepidoptera, as well as several other orders of insects, go through holometabolous development, which has four stages: egg, larvae, pupae, and imago (adult). Caterpillars are the larval stage, and they create cocoons or chrystalids to pupate in. They are mostly herbivorous, but there are a few species that will actually eat other insects.Caterpillars may look like they have a lot of legs, but like all other insects, they only have six. The rest are prolegs, fleshy extensions with tiny hooks at the ends to aid in gripping and movement.

Since they are pretty much soft bags filled with yummy innards, they need to defend themselves. Different species go about this different ways. Some, like the hornworm, have one or more spines (some are completely covered!). Stinging hairs, nasty chemicals, noxious secretions, warning colors, camoflauge or a disgusting taste can keep predators away. Many of these properties are due to the plants on which the caterpillars feed. One really funky strategy is employed by the swallowtail caterpillar. They have fleshy protrusions, that smell gross, that they can stick out of their body to deter predators.
While the adults are extremely popular due to their often elaborately decorated wings, the larval stage is just as fascinating. Raising one from a larva to an adult is an interesting process I think everyone should experience.

Check out the new poll on the right hand side of the page!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I've been tagged so many times!!! Aaahhhh!!!

I've been tagged now by uglyprettythings, beetlegirl, and themorninglorivine.

So I guess it's time for seven random facts about me! And to make it interesting, each will have a photo to go along.

1. Ambush bugs are one of my favorite insects. Here you can see one sucking the juices out of a fly it caught. Ambush bugs are really tricky to find, as they're so well camoflauged, though they're usually found on goldenrod because their backs are yellowish. I kept this one as a pet for a while. They have raptorial front legs like praying mantids.
2. I catch (and tease) snakes for fun. In the wild I've found garters, red bellies, water snakes, and eastern milk snakes. Here is a little garter that did NOT like my camera.
3. Yes, I DO also like cute little furry animals! They're not as exciting but still adorable. These are some baby mice I rescued when our cats found their nest.
4. I don't just like to sew bugs, I like to draw them too. Been drawing much longer than I've been sewing! I'm a master with some sharpie markers, I have to say. This one is a bombardier beetle, copied from a famous photo by Thomas Eisner (one of my favorite authors).
5. I make forts in my woods.
6. I am obsessed with blueberries, they're my favorite food! We have lots of bushes at home, multiple varieties, and we get more than we can possibly eat. So all year we make blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, blueberry cobbler, blueberry crisp... they're better than candy. I like to eat them frozen.
7. I can find four leaf clovers like it's nobody's business. Seriously (hey, it's my photo!). I've been known to sit in a patch of grass and find over 60 in under an hour. I usually don't keep them though, I give them to my friends and only press the really large ones.
There you go! Now I'd like to tag:
1. Field notes from an evolutionary psychologist
2. Fluffy Flowers
3. NataJane
4. Razorberries
5. StoopidGerl
6. colormebella
7. Tizzalicious

The Rules:
1. Link to your tagger and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by posting their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

I'd also like to point out I've been featured on Pretty Little Love Objects' blog!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Adventures in Stamp Making

I've been carving my own stamps for a little while now to put on my tags, notes, and packaging. I've decided to start putting them on my business cards too, since I'm venturing to the buggy side of things, and not monsters so much anymore. It was quite fun coloring each card by hand with sharpies, but it does get in the way of homework time.

So here goes! A tutorial for making your very own stamps! Here is what you'll need to start: Speedycut Speedball rubber, a Speedball carving set, a pencil, and of course an ink pad and paper. You can check out the speedball website here. First step is to sketch out your design (for this I chose a beetle). Make sure to do this very lightly, you don't want to make indentations in the rubber. Then cut out the area you'll be using.
Take the tiniest carving tool, and cut out around your lines. It goes very smoothly, so make sure to keep control over your tool, it's very easy to cut too much.
Should look like this!
Then start digging out the areas around the details. You want to do this very carefully, so you don't accidentally cut off any important pieces.
You can see here the beetle is starting to take shape. I added some lines for decoration, it shall be a colorado potato beetle.
Then take a larger tool to take out the rubber around the edges. You want your design to be the only raised area.
At this point, you're almost done. Clean up some of the scraggly lines with the tool with a smoother curve, and run it under some water to wash away the little bits and pieces. Pat dry.
And there you have it! If you use the stamp and discover that your design is a bit off, you can always go back and fix it until you get it right. You can mount your stamp onto a block of wood with glue, but for now I keep mine the way they are.
Now for the fun part - making business cards and tags! Here's what you'll need:
For my business cards, I simply cut up cardboard (the type used for cereal boxes, cracker boxes, etc) into rectangles. I try to make them roughly the same size, but don't worry about being exact. I then simply write my website, and stamp away!
If you get your hands on a tag punch and a hole puncher, you can make some awesome little tags for your items. The tag punch will actually punch through the thin boxes!
And there you go, cute little tags that are uniquely yours.
Some of the other stamps I've made so far:

Hope you've enjoyed this little tutorial! I think it's a great way to give your business a more personal touch, while being eco friendly (by using recyclable materials). You can of course create any design you wish, simple or complex. Words are a little tricky, as you can see in the last picture I just cut them out (backwards!) as opposed to making them raised.

If anyone makes their own stamps after reading this, I'd love to see them!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Making your dreams come true

For those of you on etsy, you've realized that Alchemy is back! Making it super easy for people to request custom orders in the public section, or to ask sellers individually. It's currently suffering some growing pains with a LOT of fluff that doesn't belong (like requests for supplies, vintage things, trades, classified ads, promotions, etc), but it's still a valuable tool, to be used by buyers to request custom, hand made items. I saw a listing asking for a time machine, and it already has a bid, wonder how that'll work out?

I've already bid on, and created, my first custom order using this feature. Etsy buyer Pinupchick reeeeaaaally wanted a fly plushie, and I was happy to oblige!

I've decided that I'll allow myself to be open for more custom orders (made through the "request custom item" link in my shop), but ONLY of my giant insect soft sculptures. I'm done with monsters. I'd like to point out that I have a limited supply of materials and time, being a college student with no access to a normal fabric store (I buy things when I go home, or at the thrift store). However, I'm always up for a challenge!

So if there's some sort of bug you're just dying to have, give me a shout! You can always send me a convo to ask about possibilities before you place a request. And please check out the prices in my shop to get a feel for what I charge for my skillz (that's right, skill with a z, because I'm cool like that).

As always, you can find me here!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

When bugs and man collide

I never would have thought that insects and machines would go together, but the etsy seller triciamckellar combines them in some stunning digital collages.

It's an interesting juxtaposition, as both insects and machines are intricately complex, often small, and often overlooked. However, they're fundamentally different in their aspects of creation: by nature versus by man.

Here are a few of my favorites from her shop, you can click the pictures to be taken to their listings. Her subjects are most often luna moths, cicadas, and wasps.

She offers prints in different sizes, varying in price from $14 to $170. Other images involve birds, and her interesting "plans and diagrams". I think one of her prints would look awesome on my wall.

Friday, March 14, 2008

They're taking over!!!

I'm on a roll with my insect plushies! Candice the caddisfly has been sold, yay!

And now, for Annabelle the aphid:

Here are a few of my own photos of aphids:
There are many species of aphids in the world, and they are true bugs (order Hemiptera, suborder Sternorrhyncha), meaning they have piercing sucking mouthparts. They use these to suck the sugary juices from plant stems. They can spread diseases and otherwise overwhelm the plant, making them nasty pests abhorred by the agricultural industry. However, they have some interesting interactions in nature.

Aphids need to suck up a LOT of sap to get enough nutrients, and the excess water and juices need to be expelled quickly. They produce "honeydew" from their abdomens, which is taken advantage of by some ants. In return for the tasty treats, the ants take care of the aphids, herding them like cattle. They offer protection from other predators, creating a mutualistic relationship that's not often seen in nature.

In other news, I also decided to change some things around in my shop. I had so many listings for baby monsters, selling a few here and there, and figured I'd clean things up. I'm making the baby monsters a RANDOM selection. That's right... if you buy the listing, you never know which one you'll get! For sale here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

There's a new bug in town

And her name is Candice the caddisfly larvae!Caddisflies are in the order Trichoptera, closely related to Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). In fact, the adults slightly resemble moths, holding their hairy wings tent-like over the body. They are most well known for the interesting, case building habits of their larvae. They live on the bottoms of fresh water streams. The larvae have three main strategies: build nets/retreats to capture food, build a portable protective case, or to be free living (though all types build a case to pupate in). Candice here is based off of a case-building caddisfly. They use a special silk to put materials together, such as rocks, twigs, and leaves. Each species uses a different type of material in a different way. An example of some cases (picture from this website)
They are also important to consider when determining the quality of water in streams. Their presense and abundance, along with insects such as mayflies and stoneflies, can help give an estimate of the health of the ecosystem.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Congrats to all those who guessed correctly! As far as the drawing, I accepted scarab beetle, beetle, or any other kind of beetle, as a correct answer (you can now see the comments on the previous post).

The winner is... polkadotandpersian! One of my baby monsters will be on its way to you soon.

And now, for the rest of the beetle pictures! Many people guessed ant, but the antennae are the giveaway. Many beetles have lamellate antennae (the fringes at the end), while ants only have geniculate (kind of like an elbow) antennae. He does have a funny head, which some species are known to have.

His name is Danny, and he's for sale here!They are amazingly important little critters, along with the vast array of insects that act as the clean up crew of the world. Bacteria and microbes do most of the work of turning organic matter back into basic materials, but the insects are needed to break things down into manageable bits, or to bury them in the earth. Dung beetles eat dung, or roll it up into balls to bury in the soil. These serve as either stored food sources, or as brooding chambers for their young.

Monday, March 10, 2008


A sneak preview of my latest creation!
Can you guess what it is???

I know it's a plushie, but what IS IT???

All correct answers will be entered into a drawing to win one of my baby monsters:
Names will be written on slips of paper, placed in a bowl, and chosen at random by my roomate. The baby monster will be chosen at random by me.

Just comment on this post with your guess (please be as specific as possible), along with either your etsy name or your email address so I may contact you if you win.

Ends at 8pm (EST) Wednesday (3/12) Good luck!

*edit* Thankfully, a NICE HONEST PERSON alerted me that when you click on the picture, it gave the filename, which included the name of the thing. I was wondering why I was getting so many confident guesses. So the filename is changed.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

My latest creation

I am so tickled by how this turned out. Meet Tammy the Tick!
She's made from white and brown fleece, amber safety eyes, and filled with polyfil. As with my other lovelies, she's for sale in my etsy shop.

Ticks are arachnids, related to spiders (hence the eight legs). Tammy is a fat happy dog tick, and don't worry, she's not carrying any diseases.