“Like those crabs which dress themselves with seaweed, we wear belief and custom.”
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 , in the summer of 1998, I found a dead intact beetle. A year later, 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 an interesting sculpture, the first Insect Lab work.
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, some
people have a specimen of their own, or a broken watch for the piece.
Where do you get the parts?
When I started, mostly from pocketwatches and wristwatches- these days it’s sewing machines, locks, lighters, travel clocks,
broken cameras, most any small machine of metal, I try to stay away from plastic. Some people donate material for a custom
work like with their father’s old watch repair kit, or an artillery fuze. Weird but true.
How is the work displayed?
Each work is displayed in a glass dome affixed to a black base, signed labeled and dated underneath. The sculptures
are mounted on a post and the base lined with a colored acid-free suede mat.
Do you ship outside of the US? Do they ship well?
Yes, I ship internationally. For shipping within the United States, FedEx or USMail is primarily used, and for international
shipping I can include UPS, depending. I build each piece as sturdily as possible in each display and all work is individually
bubble wrapped, secured and sealed in a box with packing peanuts, and collectively shipped in a larger box with more peanuts.
All shipping is insured.
Do I take custom requests and commissions?
Yes I do- contact me here.
I’m Mike Libby, the creator 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