Although viewed by many as a nuisance, wasps actually fulfill an important function in natural biocontrol because they prey upon pest insects. What’s more – quite apart from this – they’re also the perfect subject for a junk assemblage! That’s right, one person’s trash is another’s beautiful steampunk wasp.
We’ve found ten steampunk wasps made by amazingly creative and talented people who’ve raided their attics, basements and toolboxes (not to mention the odd shooting range!) to bring their creations to life. Would you want one of these metallic – and in some cases mechanical – insects buzzing around you? You might find they have a nasty sting in their tail! Intrigued? Read on.
10. Wheeled Steampunk Wasp Mobile
Bells and whistles come to mind when looking at this amazing steampunk wasp. This cool insect has wheels instead of claws – a nice retro-futuristic touch that surely allows it to zip by on land as well as through the air!
In terms of repurposing, we can spy several everyday objects that may have contributed to this lean, mean and decidedly large stinging machine: the handlebars for antennae stand out – very clever – but there are also various screws and levers used for the body and legs, as well as three intriguing-looking spherical objects that make up the body and head.
We would never have thought that a wasp could look anything like a motorcycle, but observing this steampunk creation just changed that perception! Now there’s an idea for creator Nozomu Shibata of Hope Metal Craft, Japan: to turn this wasp mobile into a functioning two-wheeler! It would surely be the center of attention at any vintage motor show!
9. Hymechenoptera Oculus Steampunk Arthrobot
This steampunk wasp by artist extraordinaire Tom Hardwidge is also creating a buzz for us. Like many of Hardwidge’s ‘arthrobots,’ this wasp’s body is made from an old bullet – an instrument of death that ironically finds new life in this creator’s capable hands.
This compact critter owes many of its body parts to what one might find in a toolbox: screws, nuts, bolts, and the odd old watch part thrown in for good measure. After all, what’s steampunk without some good old-fashioned clockwork? That’s creative recycling to our liking!
8. Steampunk Yellowjacket
Although copper-colored rather than yellow and black, this steampunk yellowjacket has most of the characteristics of a real-life common wasp: six legs, antennae, compound eyes and two pairs of wings. And what’s that sound we hear? Perhaps it’s the reused watch movement that now makes up the wasp’s body. You can definitely imagine this buzzing around in the imagination of H. G. Wells.
7. Robot-Like Hymenoptera – Hornet
For many insect and steampunk lovers, Mike Libby and his ‘insect lab’ are household names. He takes interesting, already-dead insects and adds to them repurposed clockwork elements from antique watches, as well as other old bits and bobs. The results are tremendous, with already- armored insect carcasses given metallic accents, transforming them into strange insectoid cyborgs.
This reincarnated hornet (here seen as if viewed through very simple compound eyes!) is a real beauty. As the largest of all wasp species, this hornet measures around 5 cm in length.
Spruced up with brass and copper watch parts, various gears and a spring, this makes for a fine steampunk specimen indeed.
Image: Tom Hardwidg
6. Hymechenoptera Rota Steampunk Arthrobot
Though English artist Tom Hardwidge doesn’t use parts from actual insects, his creations do look surprisingly lifelike. Each arthrobot is made of old, inactive ammunition, as well as various watch parts – for that quintessential steampunk touch.
Hardwidge is so true to his work that he even gives each of his creations a phylum and class (always ‘arthrobot’ and ‘machinsecta’ respectively), as well as its own order, which in this case is ‘Hymenoptera rota.’
With its propeller-like attachment, this 6 x 6 x 4 cm specimen reminds one of a miniature helicopter. An ample amount of screws, an old bullet and what appears to be a nail for the impressive-looking stinger combine to make this one magical work of art. We’re buzzing about it!
5. Brass, Copper and Silver Steampunk Wasp
There’s something both cute and lithe-looking about this steampunk wasp, which almost makes one forget its very visible stinger. It’s made out of bits of copper, brass and silver expertly soldered together. Particularly endearing are the wasp’s eyes, which were once watch knobs. Beyond the recycling that went into its creation, the intricate work of its acid-etched wings is also something at which to marvel.
Without the artistically bent, spiraling antennae, one could almost mistake this wasp for a real stinging insect – especially as it’s not much bigger than one. Great work!
4. Antique Longines Watch Silver Wasp Brooch
This steampunk wasp once literally ran like clockwork – namely as an antique 1951 Longines watch movement, which now makes up the inanimate creature’s body. The 4.2 cm x 3.8 cm brooch is sure to add a wonderful touch to steampunk and non-steampunk outfits alike!
The legs, head, wings and rear are made of rhodium-plated brass, the fine carving of which contrasts marvelously with the cogs and gears of the repurposed clockwork. This certainly has a cool sci-fi vibe about it.
Image: Nemo Gould
3. Bug 2005 Kinetic Wasp
The great thing about any piece by American artist Nemo Gould is that you never know what you may discover in his work, since all his sculptures are made out of repurposed and recycled objects.
This large kinetic sculpture, for example, has had many different past lives. It balances on what was once a baseball bat, while saucepan handles have been super-creatively employed as antennae, legs and that vicious-looking stinger. Various coffee makers and motorcycle parts gave up their lives for the insect’s body and wings. Other repurposed objects include a clock, light fixtures, a pipe stem, indicator lights, a crank wheel, a power drill, a magnifying lens, LED lights, and lots of stock aluminum. Is this one amazing critter, or what? And it moves too!
2. Steampunk Horntail Wasp Brooch
This steampunk horntail wasp brooch by Deviant artist spankyOspangler – a.k.a. Denise Humphrey – was once a vintage quartz watch movement. Add bent stainless steel wire for the legs and the rest of the body, and you’ve got one cool steampunk wasp. It also looks like a shard of glass or an old (fake?) gemstone was repurposed to help create it – and add to its elegant look. The wings, meanwhile, are made of acetate and painted with silver enamel paint. Nice!
1. Sleek Filigree Wasp
Though incredibly not actually a sculpture, but rather a masterfully created 3D rendering, this wasp just had to force its way onto our list of recycled steampunk wasps. Why? Because, in theory, creating a lifelike virtual model before getting to work on its physical counterpart saves so much waste. Different material ideas and poses can be tried out on the computer first, thus preventing or at least reducing wastage of the actual materials.
This close-up of the wasp’s shiny chassis, for instance, shows how a real sculpture might be outfitted with a groovy-looking wind-up key, as well as some old gears and other spare parts for the legs.
And the front view reveals how much this sleek-looking body is to die for. The dial on the torso helps to make this wasp look steampunk and sci-fi at the same time, and what look like watch parts for eyes complete the effect. Now someone just needs to build it!
Thus ends our tour de steampunk! We hope some of you are now armed with enough inspiration to create your own metallic, mechanical and steampunk-infused insects. We’re always on the lookout for creative recycling, so let us know if you’ve spotted any other cool creations like these.