MOB Challenge: Wings and Stings


Wings & Stings: Exploring the World of Beaded Bugs

In 1998 and again in 2000, Caravan Beads sponsored The International Miyuki Delica Challenge. This contests produced stunning pieces from all over the world with a wide variety of styles. The first contest in 1998 was "The Sea" with all undersea themed beaded objects. The second contest in 2000 was titled Myths and Folktales, with everything from the myth of Baba Yaga to the Tooth Fairy being represented as beaded artwork.


Image courtesy of Caravan Beads, Artist Laura Leonard.

In the spirit of the first two challenges, we will be teaming up with Miyuki Co., Ltd. and Caravan Beads to bring you the first Museum of Beadwork Challenge titled Wings & Stings: Exploring the World of Beaded Bugs. 

Image courtesy of the artist, Cliff Swain-Salomon. 

This year's theme is insects: actual representations, larger than life, inspiration from, or any other interpretation you can envision. Insects have been inspiring artistic creation for tens of thousands of years, with some of the first artistic depictions in cave paintings! Since then, we've seen thousands of interpretations of entomological art-- from scarabs, butterflies, moths, to bees and wasps represented in countless art and craft traditions. We want you (yes, you!) to make beautiful bugs-- here's some inspiration that may help your project take flight.

Image courtesy of the artist, Nancy Josephson

Something that was inspirational to the Museum in forming the theme for this project was looking at historic arts and crafts featuring the beauty of insects, and we found ourselves fascinated by the possibilities. Scientific illustrations of the 17th through 19th centuries in the likes of John James Audubon, Ernst Haeckel, and John Gould are incredible sources of inspiration that bridge the gap between science and art. 

Above: Abraham Rees, plate illustration,1820 via Wikimedia Commons.

Above: Jan van Kessel, 1626-1679 via Wikimedia Commons.

The era of scientific discoveries in the natural world brought a new appreciation of the natural world that had not been seen prior represented in artistic expressions. If you're looking to make beaded bugs, make sure to check out the wealth of scientific illustrations, many of which are available to view, download, and use royalty-free on Wikimedia Commons and other digital libraries due to their age and utility in scientific study.

Image by Kókay Szabolcs via Wikimedia Commons.

Another major source of inspiration that you may find useful is looking into prehistoric art and craft. Many cultures in prehistory have created unique insect representations in thousands of mythologies spanning the globe.


Carved scarab beads and cabochons from the Egyptian Middle Kingdom era, housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Themes such as regeneration, rebirth, and transformation are associated with butterflies and caterpillars, while flies and wasps are seen as omens of decay, evil, and pestilence. Scarabs and beetles are seen very commonly in ancient Egyptian symbolism as the divine manifestation of the morning sun Khepri. The hieroglyph of a scarab, Kheper, is symbolic of existence, manifestation, and development and was a ubiquitous symbol found in hieroglyphic remains.

Image by Jon Bodsworth via Wikimedia Commons. Winged scarab set in gold, turquoise, lapis, and carnelian.

Although insects may be creepy-crawlies to some, there is so much beauty to found in entomology because of the natural diversity of insects. Take a look below at an artist from Chelyabinsk, Russia, named Julia Frolova. Her specialty is creating bugs using beads, fur, and wire.

Images above credit to Julia Frolova.

We hope you found this inspirational and helped get your mind buzzing, so bring forth your swarm of ideas and start building! To learn more details about the rules and required criteria of the project, click here. The deadline to submit entries for Wings and Stings is April 30th, 2021.

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    • Heather Kahn
    Comments 3
    • heather elias\surrrrder dorthy
      heather elias\surrrrder dorthy

      i am once again inspiard thankx h elias

    • Paulette Mazurek, President, Capital Area Beading Organization
      Paulette Mazurek, President, Capital Area Beading Organization

      Capital Area Beading Organization is a small non-profit in Raleigh NC and we are keeping up the news about the Museum of Beadwork and continue to note the information in our Newsletter.
      Thank you,
      Paulette Mazurek
      President CABO

    • Paulette Mazurek
      Paulette Mazurek

      I can wait to visit the Museum in Maine. I am President of Captial Area Beading Organization and we are following you.

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