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Crafts & Drafts Saturday at Crosstown

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The third installment of Crafts & Drafts happens this Saturday at Crosstown. Craft vendors selling their wares, beer vendors selling their wares. Heavenly, no?

Among those who will be there: The egg-based artist Ansley Larsson, who makes pretty jewelry from etched-on goose egg shells. The popular Funlola's Workshop with her fun miniature food jewelry. Erica Bodine Pottery who makes pretty, study stoneware, many with a Memphis brand (like “38104” or “Tigers”) that can actually be used for what’s designed for — eating and drinking. (Plus, it’s dishwasher and microwave safe.) Then, there’s the cool Southern gothic artwork of Dorothy Art and the rustic and charming home decor stuffs from Gloriam Designs.

Another Crafts & Drafts vendor is Insectsy, which sells these cool displays featuring exotic tropical butterflies and insects as well as very pretty jewelry with butterfly wings encased in glass or resin. We spoke with Insectsy's Stacey McNiell in preview of Saturday's event.

Insectsy’s insect art
  • Insectsy’s insect art
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You were a biology major. How did you get into working that into art?

I've always had a fascination with insects. ... In college, I was lucky enough to be able to take a fantastic entomology class offered by an amazing professor. We did things like collect aquatic insects and macro invertebrates to gauge the health of local lakes. We also went out with nets and jars to compile collections of local insect species.

So, at the end of this, I had a vast array of beautiful butterflies, velvet ants, beetles, etc., and I hated the idea of them just sitting under my bed in a styrofoam box. I started cutting up vintage thrift store clothes with funky retro patterns to use as backgrounds in shadowboxes and began making displays to give as gifts to family and friends.

It seems like delicate work working with insects. Can you explain your process?

When I receive my butterflies in the mail, they are dried and folded and wrapped in paper. I put them in a rehydration chamber (a fancy way of saying I put them in Tupperware with some damp paper towels) for a few days. At this point, they are usually pretty pliable. ... I have special tools that I use, such as rounded forceps, which help me to pin them and spread their wings on a butterfly pinning board. I use strips of paper pinned in place to hold the wings in position. After a couple of weeks, I remove the pins and paper and — voila!

Is there a favorite insect you like working with?

Usually, it's whatever the newest thing I've just got in is! I do love working with beetles. There are so many amazing jewel beetles, long horned beetles, stag beetles.... And who knew dung beetles could be so adorable? Also, there are some super amazing species of grasshoppers out there that are just as colorful and vibrant as any butterfly.

Insectsy sounds like etsy. Is that by design?

Nope! That didn't even cross my mind until customers complimented me on how clever that was. Well, okay, thanks! Actually, my husband came up with the name- he's a "punny" dude!

Where can we get your stuff? Other crafts fairs you work?

I currently sell locally at Five in One on Broad Avenue, the Book Juggler on South Main, and the Shelby Farms Gift Shop. In addition to Crafts and Drafts, I will be selling at the MCA Holiday Bazaar, the Snowden Art Bazaar, the Tsunami Holiday Market, and probably some pop ups at Memphis Made in December. I'm all over the place!

Anything else you want to add?

The number one question I usually get is "Where do you get your butterflies?" I source all my butterflies from tropical butterfly farms around the world. It's a really amazing process that encourages land preservation so that hand raised butterflies can feed off of their native vegetation. Most of the butterflies that I work with only live for a couple of weeks once they are in the butterfly phase of their lives. Once they pass away naturally, they are picked up off the ground, and I'm able to have them shipped to me!

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