Dear Readers, over the years I’ve built up a collection of objects that remind me that insects and other invertebrates have been essential to my love of the natural world. When I was a little girl, our tiny back garden was a haven for all kinds of creeping and crawling things, and I was taking notice of their lives from as soon as I could walk. And so, I suppose it’s not surprising that if I’m going to wear clothing or a piece of jewellery, it’s likely to have an entomological theme.
Take the brooch above, for example. It’s made by Canadian designer Danny Pollak, and is a combination of vintage stones and new materials. My Aunt Rosemary bought it for me in Creemore, Ontario, on a visit to Canada many years ago. It was on this very same visit that I made the close acquaintance of a young turkey vulture, who was perching on the roof of someone’s car, oblivious to the stir that he was creating. And I also bought a vegan cookbook in the local bookstore by a Canadian author, Angela Liddon – it has the most fabulous recipe for a sweet potato, peanut and red pepper soup. Highly recommended.
This brooch was made by Annie Sherburne, who uses salvaged stones to make one-off pieces. I fell in love with this beetle, and dropped enough hints to get it as a Christmas present from my lovely friend J. I think of her whenever I wear it, and there is something very special about owning something that brings together a warm feeling of friendship and the joy of a very quirky object.
J also bought me this scarf for my birthday a few years ago. It has images of pretty much all my favourite creatures – frogs and toads, bees and beetles, earthworms and ants. I’m just sorry I didn’t iron it before I took the photograph. I love that it looks like one of those elegant lady scarves, but turns out to be covered in creepy crawlies. Many a person has done a double-take when they’ve looked at it closely.
And this is the brooch that got me into trouble with my boss, who I was meeting ‘in real life’ for the first time in Dublin. We’d gone out for a team dinner, and it turned out that she was arachnophobic. I ended up popping the poor spider into my pocket for the duration.
And of course I could never resist a bee. I had a lovely holiday with my dear friend S, who was working in Washington D.C, so I got a chance to go to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. A visit to the museum shop is obviously essential, and they had the best selection of insect jewellery that I’d ever seen in one place. Sadly most of the pieces aren’t online, and my friend works from London now.
I fell in love with this quirky chap when I saw him at a craft market in London. Sadly, the pink gemstones have been falling out all over the place – I used to wear him a lot when I was travelling for work in Europe, and I know for a fact that one stone is in Prague, one is in Helsinki and another one is most likely in Copenhagen. Never mind. Whenever I look at him, I’m reminded of the days when such lunatic levels of travel were not only condoned but expected, and I’m happy to be more settled, and less of a carbon liability.
And finally, how about this Bugwoman-themed cardigan? If I ever do personal appearances, I shall have to wear this.
It’s funny how I am so drawn to images of ‘bugs’, even after all these years. For me, they are still a source of fascination, and nothing cheers me up more quickly than the discovery of a new insect, or a new piece of information about their lives. I can quite see myself as an elderly lady in a care home with a secret pet spider in the corner of the room. This last few years have really made me consider what is important, and what isn’t, and I know that being connected to the natural world is so fundamental to me that without it, life wouldn’t be worth living. It’s always worth thinking about and stating these things while you still can.