Meet the maker – Becka’s Insects
Becka Gauld, creator of Becka’s Insects, makes insects, spiders, webs and snails from silver plated wire, sea glass, driftwood, marbles, gemstones and upcycled materials. These are in the form of wall mounting pieces, sculptures and wearable art and jewelery. She lives in Edinburgh and makes everything herself from scratch.
We caught up with her to discover the story behind Becka’s Insects…
How did it all start?
I had my first craft stall selling things I had made at the age of 11. It was was Fimo and clay sculptures back then. By the age of 15 I was supplying a few shops with dolls house food. My GCSE art project involved making lots of black widows from papier mache and card. I tried making these into brooches too and when I was 17 I made my first metal spider brooch using tools and materials on my dad’s work desk and soldering skills I had learnt it my school IT class. I had decided not to take A-level art as it seemed unlikely, I could develop a career from it. Instead I followed the sciences and then went onto Edinburgh Uni to study Ecology. I continued to make and supply new shops with dolls house food but in the summer between third and fourth year I tried fly pitching a stall in the Edinburgh Festival with my wire spider and insect creations. I had to buy a gas soldering torch and constantly make them on the stall as I could not keep up with the demand! With all of my Ecology studies plus a keen lifelong interest in bugs I had the knowledge to made sure my creatures captured the true essence of the species I was working on and give them an often startling sense of life. After completing my degree, I took it up properly, spreading my time evenly between this and a self-employed gardening career. Every year I design new species and evolve my creations often in response to suggestions and commissions from customers but the spider design I first started with is still going strong.
The story behind the name…
To be honest ‘Becka’s Insects’ was a spare of the minute response to give a business name to the Inland Revenue. It is thoroughly inaccurate name as spiders are a big part of my business and they are arachnids, not insects. A few years in someone suggested to me ‘Becka’s Beasies’ would be a better and more Scottish term however I already had a website and a following so I stuck with the original name.
Where are you based?
I live and work in Edinburgh, Scotland. I love it, not just for the excitement of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival every August but it is also a thoroughly beautiful and green city to live in.
What inspires you?
People often ask me ‘where do you get your ideas?’ and I try not to look at them like they are stupid. Beasties are everywhere, even inside your home but especially outside, in the air, under rocks, in the soil on the plants. There is a staggering amount of life literally under your feet and more being discovered all the time. Forget space aliens, what we have here on earth is more amazing and stranger than anything we could possibly dream up. I love visiting butterfly and insect centers, have been to heaps of handling sessions and have even attended several shows selling live creatures. I have no desire to confine and care for a creature in my own home, but I love watching them in the wild and maybe someday I will travel somewhere more tropical and join an exploratory expedition. Customers are often exposing me to new species with requests and commissions for creatures I have never heard of before and once designed these creatures often join my ranks as regular pieces.
What is your creation process?
I think one thing that has kept my spiders so popular through the years is getting them so life like. Whenever I see a spider and I have the time I often sketch their leg positions and movements. I have also spent lots of time studying and sketching webs and while I could never make anything so complex as what an orb weaver produces, I make a simplified version with attention to its imperfections and how it breaks. When I am asked for a new species I look it up in one of my books, I google it for images and information, if there is a living one I can visit I try to do this too. I then make a few versions until I am happy with it and often make two or three of these so I can fix the design in my head. I do not do any of this design process on paper (just observations) but I sketch in wire instead as I find if easier to think in three dimensions rather than two.
What makes you, your brand or products unique?
There are not very many people making beasties around the world as a proportion of artists out there. Of those that are there are some simply breathtaking creations with a suitable price tag to match. I looked into making my pieces in solid silver and took some classes for this however in the end I decided I felt much more comfortable keeping my pieces affordable and accessible to all. I love making them, I love designing them. I love giving each and everyone their own personality and sensation of life. Everyone I make is different, unique. I don’t have a mold or stencil. Every one I make comes out of my head, through my fingers and into the wire. I give a little piece of myself away with each one and I think this comes across looking at the delight on every customer’s face when they enter my stall.
What is your next project?
I continue to make new species all the time. I have been playing with the idea of a glow fly (actually a beetle) that has an LED that lights up when you touch it for some time. I’ve been floating the design for a dung beetle in my head for a while and I often get asked for a Mantis. I find unless it’s a commission I tend to let ideas evolve in my head for around two years before they come to the surface. Just now I have added face masks to my Etsy shop and am enjoying honing my sewing skills. While I am still getting a surprising quantity of Etsy orders I am not needing to make the VAST quantity of stock usually required for the Edinburgh Festival so I should also be using some of the at time to learn how to use Instagram but somehow I’d rather be making things than wrangling with the computer…
What is your biggest achievement?
Gosh, what a question! There are so many things I am pleased and proud of in my life but in terms of work I guess it’s having taken the plunge and gone for it when I was still so young and pursued my life long urge to make things and managing to make a carer out of it.
What is your best-selling product/line?
For many many years it was spiders but since I introduced them a few years ago bees have definitely overtaken them. I make bee brooches in three sizes, plus earrings and they always fly off the shelf.
What do you love about Country Living Fairs?
The size and bustle and footfall.
Your three top tips for crafters and makers…
- If it’s selling too fast, up the price until the balance is right.
- Don’t take negative comments to heart, there will ALWAYS be those that belittle what you do, remember instead all the folk putting their money where their mouth is.
- If you can adapt what you make to also sell a wearable line too, do. Folk will always pay more for jewellery and clothes and will always be able to justify buying them more than something to decorate their house.
Any advice for fledgling businesses…
Before you book a show ask as many makers that actually attend it what it is like and get a feel for whether your work will sell there by what other stalls go back year after year. Carry a sample box with you when you go o holiday so if you spot a likely shop you can show them your goods there and then.
Read more about Becka’s Insects and shop her products at: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BeckasInsects