Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

[Tidbits] Wasp Pin

The Art Nouveau movement, as it related to jewelry, was named after
an avant-garde Paris shop by the name of ‘La Maison de l’Art
Nouveau’… which was owned by one Siegfried Bing somewhere around
the 1900’s. Not sure of date. The shop’s influence reached throughout
Europe and the United States. Sensuality and images from nature
predominated many themes.

Enter Rene Lalique. considered the greatest jeweler of his time
working this style. He was brilliant. he was original… and he was
the ultimate craftsman. His observations of nature elevated his work
from the mundane to the spiritually inspired. Insects were one of his
specialties. The one you are all about to see. as soon as you finish
reading this elegant and somewhat informative bit of superlative
tripe (oxymoron anyone?)… is made of gold with enameling and
contains opal and diamonds and was shown at the Paris Exhibition of
1900. This pin converts what might conventionally be deemed as an
abhorrent theme into one of beauty and art. All this of course brings
us–as I end my discussion about Lalique because I’ve done him so many
times in the past–to the Apocrita a/k/a the Wasp.

These critters are valuable in horticultural pest control as the prey
of species such as the white fly in tomatoes and cucumbers as well as
eggplants and marigolds and strawberries as well as also being
predators of aphids which have a penchant for peach-potatoes.
whatever a peach-potato is. Anyone? Anyone? Planting a tomato garden
next year? Get a couple of wasps to stand guard. Careful of the size
of the wasp you pick. The wasp in one of H. G Wells’ novels measured
27 and a half inches across its open wings. We’re talking about a
wasp over 2 feet wide–albeit in a work of fiction. Bounce back to
reality and you will find the Asian Hornet to measure 2.0 inches in
length. That’s about 2/3 the size of a small hummingbird. One of
those guys starts a nose dive in your direction. head for the hills
folks. Them stingers ain’t no joke. Conversely–the smallest wasp is
0.0055 inches long and that makes it the smallest flying insect in
the world. And–of course–last but not least. wasps are the only
pollinators of fig trees. No wasps… . no figs folks.

Wasps first appeared in Brazil abut 65 million years ago… which
makes them pretty good survivors. Some look a bit like yellow
jackets. Their influence on human fashion dates back to the 18th
century when Polaire, a French actress, became famous for her
silhouette when she was described as having a wasp waist. Wasps have
instilled themselves in jewelry fashion since at least the 19th
century during a period of time when emerald and gold and silver wasp
brooches became the vogue of the elite. as did the almost
suffocatingly tightly cinched corseted wasp waists.

If you care to segue from fashion and jewelry into the arena of
intellectualism you might want to consider the way it created doubt
in Darwin’s mind about the existence of a well-meaning and
all-powerful creator. This doubt was instilled because of the
beasties’ parasitic tendency of laying their eggs inside a living
creature and as the eggs matured they began eating their hosts from
the inside out. Not a very benevolent attitude was Darwin’s point of

And then there is of course the military. One of the Royal Navy’s
ships was called the HMS Wasp (1880). Eleven ships of the US Navy
bore the name of USS Wasp. As aircraft carrier in the Second World
War was called the Wasp. The Germans had a howitzer named Waspe. The
British developed the Wasp flamethrower. They also had a military
helicopter called the Westland Wasp. And then there’s the Aero
Vironment Wasp III developed for the US Air force.

If someone were to make one model of a wasp bejeweled pin with
perhaps a gemstone or two inlaid into the design. he or she would
have to create over 100,000 designs for each of the different species
which exist today within one wasp family genus.

Okay. You know the rest. The visit to the image. also known as the
viewing experience. You know where. Home page. Scroll down. Left side. [Tidbits]. Click.
And there for your sensory optic pleasure you will see Lalique’s Wasp

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks. Catch you all
next week.

Benjamin Mark