“Like those crabs which dress themselves with seaweed, we wear belief and custom.”
― Cyril Connolly
Insect Lab is born from my love of science fiction, fact, natural history and storytelling- an intimate sculptural
series customizing preserved insect specimens with mechanical components and hardware from antique watches,
vintage sewing machines, old gadgets, lighters, typewriters. From beetles to grasshoppers to dragonflies, each handbuilt
work I make reveals another chapter of this world, a spirited and precise celebration of biology and engineering.
How did Insect Lab begin?
One day I found a dead intact beetle, thinking of how the beetle also operated and looked like a little mechanical
device, I located my old broken Mickey Mouse wristwatch, took it apart and so decided to combine the two. After some
time dissecting the beetle and outfitting it with watch parts and gears, I had a nice little sculpture. That was in 1999.
Where do you get your insects?
I get safe non-endangered high quality specimens from Licensed Dealers who supply from all around the world; Africa,
China, New Guinea, Brazil, Texas etc. These specimens aren’t endangered or threatened or black market. I also salvage
expired insects that I find right at hand, the occasional bumblebee or dragonfly. And for some custom work, an individual
will have and offer their own specimen for a unique project for themselves!
Where do you get the parts?
Mostly from antique pocketwatches and wristwatches- and I use almost every little part. I also use other odd bits
from sewing machines, typewriters, lighters, antique locks, adding machines. Some people donate broken watches or
their father’s old watch repair kit, which is always a fun surprise.
How are the insects displayed?
Each work is displayed within a glass dome affixed to a black base, signed labeled and dated underneath. The sculptures
are mounted on a post and the base is lined with an appropriate colored archival suede mat to compliment the sculpture.
Do you ship? Both in and outside of the US? Do they ship well?
Yes, both domestically and internationally, I build each piece as sturdily as possible in each display.
All finished work is individually wrapped in bubble wrap, secured and sealed in a box with packing peanuts, and
collectively shipped in a larger box with ample peanuts and packing material for safe and durable transportation. For
shipping within the US, FedEx or USMail is primarily used, and for international shipping I can include UPS or DHL.
All shipping is insured.
What if there is not an insect on display that I would like to own? or What if I have a custom idea in mind?
Please ask- I welcome exploring unique requests. Contact me here.
I’m Mike Libby, the maker of INSECT LAB- I’m a multi-disciplinary artist who
makes sculptures, collages and drawings using diverse materials, conceptual
curiosity, and diligent craftsmanship. You can see more work at