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Photos: Part insect, part timepiece

Artist Mike Libby customizes real insect specimens with antique watch parts and other technological components. Part creepy, part cool.

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Leslie Katz
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1 of 7 Mike Libby

Tarantula

Portland, Maine, artist Mike Libby customizes real insect specimens with antique watch parts and other technological components.

"Some of the most advanced 'aircraft' is no bigger, or heavier, than a dragonfly, and NASA scientists are making big steps in walking rovers and 'swarm theory' probes for planetary exploration," the artist says in a statement. "Manmade technology is finding that the most manuverable and efficient design features really do come from nature."

Here, one of Libby's creations, a 5-inch-wide tarantula, gets tricked out with brass and steel gears and parts.

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2 of 7 Mike Libby

Cerambyidae: Solli

Libby, who holds a degree in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design, says his Insect Lab began after he found a dead, intact beetle. He located an old wristwatch, noting how the beetle also operated and looked like a little mechanical device, and decided to combine the two. Other beetles, like this one, followed.
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3 of 7 Mike Libby

Bumblebee

The artist found this bumblebee in his grandfather's back yard and went on to embellish it using brass gears and parts, a tension spring, and dial. When Libby doesn't salvage insects from nearby, he gets "safe, non-endangered high-quality specimens" from around the world, including Africa, China, New Guinea, Brazil, and Texas.
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4 of 7 Mike Libby

Arachnidae: Heterometrus Spinifer

Libby mainly collects his components from antique pocketwatches and wristwatches, and uses almost every little part. He also uses electrical components and other odd bits from sewing machines and typewriters. This scorpion even has a faux red gem on top.
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5 of 7 Mike Libby

Orthoptera: Tropidacris Dux

This 5-inch long grasshopper has parts and springs made from brass, copper, and steel/copper. Libby has shown his work around the country, most recently at the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C., which ended Sunday.
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6 of 7 Mike Libby

Dynastidae: Chalcosoma Atlas

Libby sells his robo-bugs, displayed in glass domes. He also photographs his work and makes prints, which go for $120 each.
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7 of 7 Mike Libby

Odonata: Epischeana Heros

This dragonfly, which measures about 5 inches wide, has steel gears and parts. Libby says his work celebrates the contradictions and confluences between nature and technology.

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