Insect Aside: The Art of Mike Libby

There are things you expect to see in the Nieman Marcus Christmas book: A $200,000 "round-table experience"(a k a private dinner party) with eight to 10 of today's top authors. His and hers sport planes for a mere $250,000. A $12,000 custom-made acoustic guitar.

But this catalog wouldn't be famous without a few surprises. This year, a piece of insect art by Maine's own Mike Libby is one of them. In his Portland studio, Libby creates tiny sculptures combining real insects with gears and other mechanical parts, often from antique watches.

According to his artist's statement, RISD alum Libby found a completely intact, dead beetle one day and began thinking about how the insect "looked like a little mechanical device." He found an antique watch, took it apart and got to work.

Imagine a butterfly's wings with a body made of tiny gears and springs. Or a praying mantis propped up with watch hands and other metal gadgets. The result is mesmerizing. So much so, that Libby's work has been featured in The New York Times and a variety of regional publications.

For the right person, one of these limited-edition sculptures — which features an African Flower Beetle suspended in a glass dome — is the perfect gift — not to mention, completely unexpected. And at Nieman's prices, the $8,500 price tag is a relative bargain.

To view Libby's work, visit the Insect Lab Web site. To view the Nieman Marcus Christmas Book, click here.


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