Why Your Home Needs More Bugs and Creepy Crawlies

Give your free time creative purpose

Put huge grins on the faces of your friends with strategically placed creepy crawlies!

That’s right, there’s nothing better than a wasp in the jam, or a fly in the butter to get a reaction.

Especially, when the bugs in question, are charming little models made from pencils and paperclips. First, meet the bugs:

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No.1 Emperor moth caterpillar

Latin name: Saturnia pavonia
Previous life: Staedtler Noris 2B pencil

Pencil and paper clip bugs: emperor moth caterpillar
I'm not eating that apple!

No.2 Common wasp

Latin name: Vespula Vulgaris
Previous life: W H SMith HB pencil

Pencil and paper clip bug: common wasp
Buzz off!

No.3 Common house fly

Latin name: Musca domestica
Previous life: Berol Mirado HB pencil

Pencil and paper clip bug: common house fly
No toast and butter for me!

No.4 Earthworm

Latin name: Ocypus olens
Previous life: Derwent Watercolour pencil

Pencil and paper clip bug: earthworm
Mind where you are stepping!

What will I learn?

1) Anything made from wood, however small, can be creatively repurposed - never throw wood things away!

2) Where you put something is sometimes as important as the object itself - these bugs only have real impact when placed on or near food stuffs.

3) A few simple techniques, applied imaginatively, can create a wide variety of different outcomes.

Step by step guide

The first half of the instructions covers techniques and the second half provides detailed plans for each of the bugs. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them. Good luck!

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LEARN how to transform the stuff around you into fun and useful things:

Printable artwork
Preparation
How to make Four Pencil and Paper Clip bugs: illustration 1

Collect all your old pencils, but only the ones with a circular cross section (1), not hexagonal. Use sand paper to remove the painted surface, if it has one (2).

Shaping
How to make Four Pencil and Paper Clip bugs: illustration 2

Consult the ‘bug plans’ below for measurements and then mark the segment length using a ruler and pencil (3).

Use a combination of sand paper and a pencil sharpener to shape the ends (4), which will either be ‘rounded’ or a ‘pointy’ (5).

Cutting
How to make Four Pencil and Paper Clip bugs: illustration 3

Use a hacksaw (or hacksaw blade) to cut off the segment (6). Take the segment and gently round the cut end with sand paper (7).

Drilling
How to make Four Pencil and Paper Clip bugs: illustration 4

There’s two types of holes, one through the centre of the segment (for joining them together) and the other into the sides (for adding wings and legs).

Although its possible to join the segments using a straightened paperclip I preferred to use thicker wire, around 1.5mm. If you do the same choose an appropriate size drillbit for drilling through the centre of the segment (8). Also, remember not to drill all the way through the end segments!

For the side holes, use a drill bit slightly larger than the diameter of the paper clip wire, there needs to be some room for the glue (9).

Bending
How to make Four Pencil and Paper Clip bugs: illustration 5

Pliers are the best tool for bending the wire accurately (10). Use the ‘bug guides’ below to get an idea of shape and size.

As mentioned in step (8), I found it easier to use thicker wire to connect the segments, but if you don’t have any try using two paperclips (11).

Glueing
How to make Four Pencil and Paper Clip bugs: illustration 6

You need a hard setting glue to assemble your bugs. I used an epoxy based glue called Araldite, it consists of two separate compounds that have to be squeezed out in equal measure (12) and then mixed thoroughly (13).

Before it sets, take another paper clip, and use it to dab some glue into the side holes(14). Push the leg, wing or feeler into the hole (15), remove any excess glue using another paper clip before letting the glue set (16).

How to make Four Pencil and Paper Clip bugs: illustration 7

For joining segments dab a blob of glue onto the connecting wire (17) and gently push the segments together (18). To get a nice even shaped join, push the segments slightly beyond their final position, and then pull them apart again (19).

It’s very likely that some of your centre holes will be off centre. Try rotating the segments (before glueing) until you find the combination that looks best (20).

Painting
How to make Four Pencil and Paper Clip bugs: illustration 8

Paint the bugs using acrylic paints and a small brush (21), use the photographs above for colour references.

Bug Plans

Common House Fly
How to make Four Pencil and Paper Clip bugs: illustration 9

Please note, BOTH back legs fit into a single side hole, so you may need to enlarge the hole by wiggling the drill or using a larger drill bit.

Also, the front legs wrap around the centre wire, so you’ll need to add this before glueing the segments together.

Emperor Moth Caterpillar
How to make Four Pencil and Paper Clip bugs: illustration 10

Curve the central wire into the shape above. Add legs between segments (but not every segment) and use glue to create ‘spacers’ between segments.

Earthworm
How to make Four Pencil and Paper Clip bugs: illustration 11

Similar to the caterpillar, but more segments and no legs. Don’t put too much glue between each segment, they need to be close together, this is a worm not a caterpillar!

Common Wasp
How to make Four Pencil and Paper Clip bugs: illustration 12

The wasp is similar to the fly. Just add ‘feelers’ and watch out for the different wing and body shapes. Also, the wings fit into a single hole and the legs fit into two holes.

Materials

  • Old pencils and paperclips
  • Sand paper
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Epoxy glue
  • Drill and drillbits
  • Pliers and wire cutters
  • Acrylic paints and paintbrush

Give it your own unique twist

There’s a lot more creep crawlies you could make using this technique - I’d love to see a spider, I think that would complete the set!

Written by
Photo of Scott Bedford
Scott Bedford

Maker, Illustrator and Author