My last piece for Bicycle Magazine’s The Shift column. In the current issue now. I tweaked the colors a bit here from the version that went to print. Thanks Colin McSherry for all the great assignments!
"Right now, in almost every river in the world, some 12,000 different species of caddisfly larvae wriggle and crawl through sediment, twigs, and rocks in an attempt to build temporary aquatic cocoons. To do this, the small, slow-moving creatures excrete silk from salivary glands near their mouths which they use like mortar to stick together almost every available material into a cozy tube. A few weeks later a fully developed caddisfly emerges and almost immediately flies away."
Since the 1980s Duprat has been collecting caddisfly larvae from their normal environments and transporting them to aquariums in his studio. There he gently removes their own natural cocoons and puts the larvae in tanks filled with materials such as pearls, beads, opals, turquoise and pieces of 18-karat gold. The insects still do exactly what comes naturally to them, but in doing so they create exquisite gilded sculptures that they temporarily call home. If you saw them out of context, you’d never guess they’d been created insects.
Visit Colossal for additional images and video of Hubert Duprat discussing these amazing insects and their shiny, shiny creations.