Tag Archives: insect jewelry

Bug Stuff! And street art, and one of my very oldest mixed media pieces.

Beetle crown and Suzanne Forbes at Club Gretchen July 16 2022It’s been a while since there’s been any bug stuff!

I didn’t stop loving bugs, as you can see from these pictures!

Iridescent insect crown by Suzanne Forbes July 2022 detailI tried a new material for the first time on this metal crown: chrome/chameleon powder, like you see in fancy gel nail polish. I’ve been wanting to try it for ages, but I’m always skittish about new materials.

So I did a trial run on just a tiny part of the crown – the small brass bugs at the tips of each ray. I did my usual hot water and soap soak of the brass findings, then dried them in the sun and attached them to the metal filigree crown with uv resin.

Sprayed the whole thing black, then added AB Jet crystals, gradient pearls, and iridescent titanium finished cicadas.

Then I rubbed the green/purple chameleon powder on the black-painted brass bugs and varnished them with an acrylic varnish. The brushful of varnish picked up the powder easily, smearing it around, and the duochrome effect was limited. It was obvious that I really needed to use the recommended tacky UV resin base coat and UV resin top coat for the best effect.

So I did, in my next big project – The Purple Queer Wrath Tiger!

Suzanne Forbes photographed at Club Gretchen by fasermacka and gretl.wand July 16 2022I also had a wonderful Bug Art encounter at Club Gretchen, when I went to draw at the Queerberg Presents Festival.

When my taxi pulled up, I saw a crowd of femme and non-binary looking folks gathered around benches in front of the club. They were picnicking and working, with boxes of paste-up art. Some were my age, which I love to see! The group is a paste-up urban art crew* who renews the two large murals every two months. This month, insects were heavily featured! Imagine how happy they were when I walked up in my butterfly dress and scarf and beetle backpack!

@fasermacka and @gretl.wand took the pictures, and I gave them my card and they kindly sent copies soon after!

I also got to meet IRL the wonderful urban enhancer TextileStreetArt, who gave me a piece of tatting lace! How cool to meet this artist I’ve followed online for several years.

Tatting lace by Textile Street Art July 22 2022 with duochrome powderI took the tatting lace home and painted it with UV resin base, rubbed duochrome powder on it, and covered it with clear UV varnish.

It might seem rude to receive a gift of an exquisite handmade piece from someone and immediately transform it. But street art is a dialogue, an act of faith in leaving something to the elements and the street’s uses of things. It’s made to glitch/remix/collab.

Kaey with Tatting lace and paste up art by Textile Street Art at Queerberg Presents Whoriental Festival July 22 2022

Kaey with Tatting lace and paste up art by Textile Street Art at Queerberg Presents Whoriental Festival July 22 2022

I may wear this as a necklace or chest piece, as Kaey does above!

My relationship with lace and street art goes back to my own very beginnings as a graffiti artist.

I had lace doilies all over my West Village bedroom in 1981, and got interested in using them as stencils. Using spraypaint, the effect was remarkably like tie-dying, another thing we did a lot when I was a teenager.

Lace stencil tie dye dinosaur by Suzanne Forbes as Rachel Ketchum 1981The very oldest – I was 14!- of these projects survives, in our hallway in Berlin. I spraypainted the plastic T. Rex skeleton with Krylon Pastel Aqua, a color much loved by graffiti artists, then laid the lace over it and sprayed dark blue.

This was long before the days of plastic-friendly or acrylic spraypaints; it was in the days when I used solvent-based Krylon enamel exclusively of course (and you had to steal it, you couldn’t buy it.) Although I couldn’t afford to buy it now!

Krylon Pastel Aqua Spray PaintSo the unprimed dinosaur skeleton remained a little tacky for the first decade or two, until finally the paint and the plastic and the dust all kind of fused together.

I believe I tried the lace trick in the wild too, but of course there is no documentation. Still, the dino is here. Has always been in every place I’ve lived. I had a wonderful insight about my life today, one that speaks to why I am fairly at peace with a shortened lifespan and physical limits.

I thought, “I have been able to be exactly who I am my entire life, and that is a very rare privilege.”

*About the paste-up wall art at Club Gretchen:

On her post about the installation, Gretl Wand says,
“again 2 beautiful walls were created with a great crew thank you!”
otte von @omasgegenrechts.berlin
@stickermaidberlin 💋
and thanks for the support of

Bug bricolage roundup for June!

grasshopper bricolage carriage and shadow box by Suzanne Forbes May 2017I’ve been working on several bug bricolage projects this month. Here are two finished ones!

grasshopper bricolage carriage harness Suzanne Forbes May 2017The copper paperart cricket seen here was a birthday gift in my forties from the incredible artist and sculptor Aimee Baldwin. I made him this carriage to ride in out of a gilt carriage I got on eBay. Then I made a harness for a metal grasshopper I ordered from some online discounter.

I had this vision before we left the US of an insect-based version of the classic Golden Jubilee or coronation coach models. In my mind’s eye I saw it in our new home, one of the lamps that guided me through the terrors and trials of the move.Pall Mall GOldsmiths State Coach model

I don’t know why it felt so important to me to make this weird thing; I never do.

grasshopper bricolage carriage left side Suzanne Forbes May 2017 I had a lot of miniature horse saddlery supplies and thin metallic leather left over from my Snow Queen project.

I had little buckles, silver leather straps and silver cord. It could not go to waste! I covered the side panels of the coach, which were white, with a variety of fine silver leathers and cording trim. Silver rhinestuds added detail. I used antique silver color filigree jewelry findings to tip the ends of the carriage shafts so they fit the grasshopper better. (They still look a little dark, Imma brush them with silver paint to blend them in better just took my silver Sharpie and fixed ’em.)

grasshopper bricolage carriage left side Suzanne Forbes May 2017 I made a little silver leather seat pillow with cord trim and scrapbooking brads for the upholstery button-tufting, and filled it with microbeads which work better than any fluffy filling on dollhouse or mini scale.

I made the harness out of silver leather straps. Some of them were silver on the tops but white on the sides, so I colored the sides with a fine-point silver Sharpie. It worked great!

When you have all your tools readily to hand it’s so easy to take care of the details!grasshopper bricolage carriage med

The new jewel bug shadowbox is lined with green dragonfly brocade scraps left over from a corset made years ago by Mina LaFleur.

Like my incredible dressmaker and costumier Monique Motil, Mina always thoughtfully returns all scraps of fabric from a project.jewelled insect shadowbox by Suzanne Forbes June 2017 You never know what you might use it for!

I buy the jewelled insect brooches on eBay using a simple system: they have to have free shipping and I will bid up to $2.00. If the bidding goes over $2, too bad. So it takes a while to accumulate a batch for a shadow box but after all it’s not like I’m in a hurry.

I’m working on slowly increasing the pink accents in the Gothic Rococo salon, so I searched specifically for pink bug brooches this time.

jewelled insect shadowbox by Suzanne Forbes June 2017

If the bug brooch arrives with any colors that don’t coordinate well, I tint the enamel or rhinestones with a colored Sharpie. Since they’re going to be in a box, it won’t rub off. I turned white areas pink and yellows to pale green for this one.

To attach the backing fabric to the board in the shadowbox I use UHU “Extra Allekleber”, my Germany dupe for my beloved Quik Grip (formerly Quik Grab). It’s an excellent adhesive for fabric to fabric or fabric to anything; it really lets you stretch and shape your fabric to a surface.

The brocade was wrinkled from years of storage but I didn’t bother to press it, just stretched it taut with my UHU. To attach the bugs to the backing board I always use a glue gun. I make little balls of tin foil and attach them to the backs of the bug pins to keep them level. They hide neatly behind wings and keep the brooches stable.

Then I glue on the bugs and there it is, a new vegan jewelled insect shadow box!