Weekly Keep-Our-Sanity Challenge: Beetle


For this installment of our weekly Keep-Our-Sanity challenge, we chose the theme of Beetle.  

Let’s talk about the significance of Beetle in human history. It’s symbolic presence in myth and culture around the earth is prolific. Here is a sampling (from Beetles as Religious Symbols):

The Scarab as Creator

Among shamanic societies, there are series of myths relating the creation of world to beetles. In some Indian tribes from the Chaco (South America), a big scarab named Aksak modeled man and woman from clay. Thus, the scarab, who shapes dung into balls, is identified as potter; an identification that we shall find again in Old Egypt.

In a more remarkable myth, an aquatic animal plunges down to the bottom of original liquid chaos, managing to grab and bring back to the surface some amount of matter to form the terrestrial world. In some examples of this myth, the primeval diver and maker of the world is a beetle. This is especially the case among pre-Aryan people from India and South-East Asia. The myth probably combines two different sorts of beetles: a Dytiscid, whose name recalls his ability to plunge (from Greek dytiscos “diver”), and a scarab, grabbing and pushing his dung ball (of course, in the primeval waters, there was no dry land to push one’s ball on).

The sky, representing a similar symmetrical medium to the water, has resulted in variant inversions of the creation myths. Among the Sumatran Toba, a big beetle brings a ball of matter from the sky to form the world. This beetle could be a scarab. (Egyptian and Greeks believed scarabs were able to fly while carrying a dung ball.)

Sadigh Gallery: Ancient Egyptian Lapis Lazuli Scarabs

Our Team’s Interpretations

Lesley Watt: As soon as I got this green hand dyed silk thread I thought of beetles so Claire’s theme was the obvious chance to use it. The beetle is embroidered onto shot silk and then mounted on a remnant of furnishing fabric from my stash. Not my usual palette but I like the boldness of it.

Lesley Watt; close-up of the embroidery.

Cathy Spivey Mendola: I made a pendant that will either go on an amulet bag? Or make it into a necklace. I remembered that I had bought 2 wooden scarab beads years ago and never used them. It took me a couple of hours of digging through various bead containers but I found them! Paired it with more wooden beads and a carved bone hand.

Niky Sayers: I spent way too much time procrastanating over this one! I strugle with seed beads because there are just too many options, think I may redo this one in metal!

Cooky Schock: Wire wrapped scarab. I haven’t done any wire wrapping in a while so this was a challenge!

Susan Kennedy: Years ago my kids brought me this scarab from the British Museum (such cute kids!) – I assume it’s supposed to be faience. I made two scarabs today to look like faux faience – turned out pretty cool! I used opaque turquoise glass and transparent enamel in two different colors.

Claire Fabian: Real beetle wings over a polymer clay body and encrusted (is this a real word) with tiny micropearls, swarowski elements and embossing powder.

Jenny Davies Reazor: This piece was so much fun. I had been wanting to try shaped pieces. And framed/wearable pieces. Framed, shadow box frame. On real papyrus. It can be lifted out and worn.

Jenny Davies Reazor

Jenny Davies Reazor

Diana Ptaszynski‎: Two porcelain beetle charms and a cicada pendant. I still have to glaze and final fire these. I’ve made some beetles in stoneware before but wanted to try some in porcelain.

Karen Totten: From my blog post in 2009 (I had been hearing strange sounds in my new home, and things falling over, etc. I had some kind of paranormal activity going on!): “I heard knock sounds again in my studio. This was the 4th time; 4 distinct knocks. Unlike the previous 3 times which occurred in the dead of night, this happened during daylight, about 8 pm. It startled me enough to want to get out of the house so dog and I went for a walk. As we approached a pond, upon hearing the peepers and other sounds, I got a flash of an image: a strange double-sided bug. Unlike the representation here, it was carved into a light-colored stone.

Claire Fabian: This was an experiment I did with cold wax used for batik. Some layers of wax, acrlic paint and oil pastels… and the help of a heat gun. I have to say the cold wax was not the best material but I am intrigued enough by it that I want some encaustic wax.



Karen Totten

Karen has worked professionally as an artist and designer for over 30 years in a variety of creative disciplines: architectural design, illustration, art direction, mixed media art, interaction design. She currently works full time as a User Experience (UX) Design Principal for an international consultancy. When not flying to work every week, her other passions are ceramic art, sketching, and occasionally, jewelry design. “For me, the creative life, from UX to fine art, has always been one of exploration and adventure. As the daughter of an air force navigator, I grew up a traveler. To this day I am intrigued by stories and motifs that transcend time, culture, and geography.“
    • Renetha Stanziano
    • February 19, 2017

    I really like these weekly challenges. They are truly inspiring!

    • karen
    • February 19, 2017

    Very inspirational – thank you! So pretty.

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