Marinea Heindel is not your typical woman. Known as Insect Mother, Marinea plays with bugs and makes art out of dead things. Intrigued? So was I. Which is why I contacted her and asked if I could share his unique work on The Travel Bug Bite! Check out her Etsy store ASAP, but keep reading while you shop!
“I’ve always had an interest in animals and insects and started creating jewelry when I was around seventeen. My jewelry has always been a little strange, with most of it being made from the bones and insects I’ve found. When I learned about the process of copper electroforming, it blew my mind and immediately sparked my interest.”
Real Insects and Other Dead Things
I follow Insect Mother on Facebook and often see photos of the bugs she finds to use for her jewelry. Admittedly, my brain immediately goes into 404 Error mode. My first message to Marinea was: “Hello, I love your jewelry. Can I write about it? Also… are there actual dead bugs in it?” And the Insect Mother was like DUH *points to the name of her store.* Just kidding, she was super nice and didn’t judge my dumb question. I’m sure it gets asked A LOT. Is dead insect jewelry morbid? Kind of. But it’s also absolutely amazing!
Insect Mother turns real insects into jewelry using electroforming:
“Copper electroforming is the process of running electricity through liquid chemicals using an anode and cathode, with the anode being copper materials. The copper particles float through a solution and attach to the piece of art I’m creating! It’s similar to the process of plating a watch or gold plating a necklace, except it’s much thicker and I’m plating organic materials instead of plating base metals.”
I know exactly what you’re thinking. Insect Mother is part artist and part evil (genius) scientist. She was kind enough to share a sneak peek of her laboratory with me:
Many if not all artists draw inspiration from nature. Unfortunately, in todays society many people find insects to be gross. In my exploration of entomophagy I became really interested in the psychology of disgust. The same people who eat fresh oysters a.k.a. the natural filtration system of the ocean and remove the poop string from crayfish before eating them will turn their nose at the idea of a fried cricket. One of the theories is that when we are little, our parents will see us playing with bugs or even trying to eat them. To keep us safe, they will say ‘eww, gross, don’t do that.’ And so, ‘eww, gross’, becomes ingrained in our brains when it comes to bugs.
Clearly, Marinea’s parents, like mine, didn’t corrupt her view of these six-legged creatures:
“I enjoy working with insects as a way to teach people about the insects biology, but also as a way to show people that insects aren’t as creepy as they may think. I love that I can inspire people to admire the little guys that otherwise may be looked over.”
It sounds like Insect Mother (and anyone insect-curious) should join/follow these Facebook groups:
Seriously, there are so much fun and will snap you our of your fear of insects, if you have any.
Insect Hunter or Gatherer?
Marinea doesn’t run around murdering insects to use for her art. While a lot of research shows that insects are unable to feel pain the way animals do, killing insects isn’t exactly ethical. Insect Mother, as the name implies, isn’t in the habit of commiting insecticide for her art.
“For the most part, real insects, bones, and botanicals are used in my art. I try to source my “art supplies” locally, always searching for insects who have died from natural causes, or having friends keep eyes out for me.”
Is it weird to say that I now want to go out and find some dead insects and watch Insect Mother to turn them into jewelry? Maybe. Am I itching to suggest that she gets a PO box and begins accepting insect donations to be sent from all over the country? Yes! It could get a little icky, but especially in winter months, the cold should keep the insects preserved enough during transport. Although I would pity the USPS employee who finds a broken package full of decomposing insects…
ANYWHOO, Insect Mother also uses plants for her art. She has an amazing bark necklace on Etsy that I am slightly obsessed with. I did see a note in the store that she accepts custom orders. Once I save up some money, I am totally going to consider commisioning her for a birch bark necklace, maybe with a mushroom somewhere in the mix? I can’t get over how many possibilities there are with electroforming! And I’m sure I’ll be seeing (and buying) a bunch of them from Insect Mother.
I may have a new heroine in my life. She won’t be rescuing me from bad guys, but she will be saving me from boredom and monotomy with her art. Check out Insect Mother on Etsy, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Buy her work, wear it proudly and spread the word that insects are cool, not icky! Seriously though, consider buying something from this awesome human as a Christmas present. Supporting small businesses makes an impact, plus this jewelry is about as cool and unique as it gets.
Follow The Travel Bug Bite for more great content and occasional features of cool artists!