Instead of throwing away dead beetles, how about turning them into jewelry and other embellishments? This bizarre idea comes from Aagje Hoekstra’s fascination with insects and design. Her design project, Coleoptera, for the 2013 Dutch Design Week entails environmentally friendly plastics reprocessed from the exoskeletons of insects.
She collected dead Darkling Beetles from insect farms and then went on to separating the body from the outer shells, which are made of chitin, a natural polymer also found in arthropod shells. Turning chitin into chitosan, Hoekstra heat-pressed the material to create a plastic that still holds the original shape of the insect.
Having already produced jewelry and ornaments with insect shells, Hoekstra aspires to experiment with more functional products, such as plastic spoons and cups, in the future.
Not quite sure how the public will react to putting shells of dead insects into their mouths, but it is good to see designers finding more practical ways to reuse animal products. Bioplastics have become a popular medium for designers, and have been incorporated into the works of several artists around the world.
Check out some more images of the project below.