New online business captures the beauty of insects through art

“I hope to inspire the beauty of insects in other people, because I think they are beautiful”

Two insect-loving friends and business owners from Guelph hope to share their passion and knowledge through art.

Samm Reynolds and Kat Cantera are co-owners of Arthropod’s Garden, a company that sells sustainable insect artwork. Using glass bottles, the duo create scenes using ancient living insects, flora and fauna to create scenes. Besides these pieces, this company also sells framed art works with insects and insect themed Christmas decorations.

“We both want to create, basically little miniature gardens, to preserve the insects so that they can kind of live in their natural environment for the rest of their lives, so that people can admire and learn from them. “said Reynolds.

Wanting to offer more than pinned butterflies to insect lovers, Reynolds explains that they use dragonflies, cicadas and other insect species in their art. For any of their framed insects, she adds that they press their own flowers and buy their second-hand frames.

“I hope to inspire other people with the beauty of insects, because I think they are beautiful.”

The insects used come from the University of Guelph and other organizations that study insects. Currently pursuing her doctorate, Reynolds mentions that she noticed that scientific studies conducted on one type of insect attracted different insects with their traps, resulting in a lot of “bycatch.” She said most of those bycatch would be discarded.

After noticing this, Reynolds started asking her if she could take them home.

“I was like, ‘Oh, they’re beautiful, and I think there is an opportunity to show people how beautiful they are instead of letting them spoil,'” she said.

“We’re just trying to find partnerships with people where the bugs die off naturally, because I don’t want anyone to go out and kill bugs on our behalf.”

With all the materials on hand, Reynolds said it could take up to a few hours, depending on the shape of the bottle.

“It’s kind of like building a ship in a bottle,” Reynolds said, “But for others that are easy to get to, it might take an hour or two, instead of three or four.”

Since launching on November 29, Reynolds has said she has been “blown away” by the online response and request for custom orders.

“I had no idea there was such a market for this stuff,” Reynolds said. “I was like, ‘If this were to work anywhere, Guelph would be the place where it would work. “”

While the duo recently launched their online store, Reynolds mentions that they have both wanted to do so for years, starting after they first met during an entomology field class in their two studies of first cycle.

From that field course, Reynolds said it helped shape her career path and that of Cantera, who now works for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

“I knew I loved bugs, growing up I was the kid who said to me: ‘Don’t kill him! Let’s take it out ‘, or I’ve never been afraid of spiders, and things like that, ”Reynolds said,“ and when I started to learn more about them, I was like,’ C is so fascinating!

“From that field course, that’s kind of where I found my niche, and Kat did the same. “

Reynolds mentions that it wasn’t until everyone went to a psychic for a tarot card reading on Halloween that they decided to give their business idea a chance.

“She basically told us that she could sense that we wanted to start a business together and that we had pushed it off and that we should stop postponing it,” Reynolds said, “and it was weird, but we were like , “Yeah, we should do it.”

As they test consumer interest in their work, Reynolds notes that she would like to expand the platform to also provide information about the species they feature, becoming more of a science communications company.

“I really like teaching people about bugs because I feel like they’re something that people aren’t very familiar with,” Reynolds said. “They are an undervalued part of the environment, so I really hope we can expand it not just for art, but for educating people.”

To see what products are available at Arthroprod’s Garden, you can check out their Instagram page here.