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Crafty crawly: Bug expert teaches a class on making dioramas with beetles! - Brooklyn Paper

Crafty crawly: Bug expert teaches a class on making dioramas with beetles!

Dung beetle: A beetle reads the paper while seated on a tiny toilet, in a diorama created by Daisy Tainton, who will teach a class on her craft on Feb. 10 in Williamsburg.
Daisy Tainton

Meet the beetles!

A Queens entomologist will teach oddball Brooklynites how to pose dead beetles and display their jauntily dressed, desiccated carcasses in whimsical bug-scale dioramas at a Williamsburg bookstore on Feb. 10.

The creepy-crawly craftswoman behind the Anthropomorphic Beetle Dollhouse Diorama Class at Quimby Bookstore said she is not being weird for weirdness’s sake. She really just likes dioramas — and bugs!

“I just like insects,” said Daisy Tainton. “It’s a combination of all the really cute miniature stuff I’ve liked since childhood, and nature.”

At the workshop, ticketholders will be provided with a dead rhinoceros beetle — a whopping three-inch tank of a bug, graced with charmingly cartoonish proportions.

“I feel like these guys are just adorable and they seem sort of bumbling,” Tainton said.

Unlike some beetles, it is easy to tell which way a rhinoceros beetle’s head is facing, thanks to its namesake horn, Tainton said.

“It gives them a greater sense that we can tell where their face is,” she said.

Lady bug: Daisy Tainton with one of her handcrafted beetle dioramas
Daisy Tainton

Once everyone has selected an insect, Tainton will give her budding beetlers a rundown on how to pin and pose the bugs. Students will also receive a shadowbox, and can choose from Tainton’s selection of bug-sized doodads and bric-a-brac. Then it is up to the students to wrack their imaginations and craft a scene for their insectoid actor, who could be cooking in a bug-sized kitchen, drinking in a bug-sized bar, or reading a bug-sized newspaper while sitting on a bug-sized toilet — all actual scenes created in previous classes.

Tainton encourages would-be beetle wranglers to bring their own dollhouse props if they want something specific for their six-legged star.

Previous sessions have attracted a wide variety of people, she said.

“I’ve had all kinds of people over the years, from 10-year-old kids who just love insects, to adults who are trying to conquer their fears of insects. In between are crafters who want a new way to make interesting displays and gifts.”

The upcoming class, just a few days before Valentine’s Day, can be a unique night out for the right pair, said the rhino beetle wrangler.

“Valentine’s Day class has typically been a great couples night,” she said. “It’s something they’ve definitely never done together, and they seem to love it as a date event.”

Tainton earned her expertise preserving bugs for the Museum of Natural History, where she labored for 12 years as the institution’s senior insect preparator, drying out a myriad of six-legged creepy crawlers for the museum’s world-class collection.

Make a bug diorama at Quimby’s Bookstore [536 Metropolitan Ave. between Union Avenue and Lorimer Street in Williamsburg, (347) 889–5569, www.quimbsynyc.com]. Feb. 10 at 5 pm. $65.

Having a ball: A beetle knits, while little bugs play with a ball of yarn.
Daisy Tainton

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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