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Photo of sculptures by Betsy Vaden

For the past few weeks, we have been experiencing the constant whirring of cicadas, as they break through their exoskeletons and emerge in their adult forms to take to the air. For some of us this cacophony is annoying, but it is music to my ears as it signals the availability of cicada sheds – that exoskeleton part that is left behind.

Photo of sculpture by Betsy Vaden

For several years I have been using the sheds in my sculptural work. Different types of cicadas hatch on different schedules, so I usually find some every year, though not the abundance we are currently experiencing. The image above shows a work in progress — After bisque firing the slip-coated sheds you can see the effect of using the sheds as hair.

Photo of sculpture by Betsy Vaden

This process of collecting the sheds, dipping them in the casting slip one-by-one, incorporating the dipped sheds into the sculpture, and firing and glazing the piece is very time consuming, but I find it challenging and fun. The image above is the final sculpture.

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