Spiders might not make you think of Darth Vader, but you’re not Klaus Enrique.
The sculptor and photographer was sketching a tarantula when he realized the arachnid resembled the mouth and nose sections of the Sith lord’s iconic mask. Inspiration struck. Enrique spent four months painstakingly arranging dead butterflies, moths, scorpions, and millipedes along with a fly and a cicada on a plasticine bust. He photographed the finished product, bringing the worst villain from long ago and far away to life in all its creepy, crawly glory.
“When I saw [the finished statue] I was like ‘I think this Darth Vader happens to be even scarier than the real Darth Vader,'” says Enrique.
He’s built human-like sculptures made of flowers, fruits and vegetables before, but insects presented a new level of tedium. It took nearly 300 hours to get it just right. All told he used some 150 insects sourced from around the world. The tarantulas and scorpions came from a vendor in Arizona, for example, while most of the butterflies came from a Chinese eBay vendor who charged $3 to $5 apiece for them.
The butterflies were brittle, so Enrique had to carefully moisten them in a humidity chamber he fashioned from a take-out container, water, paper towels, mouthwash (to keep bacteria from forming), rocks and mosquito net. The humidity allowed him to sculpt and pin the wings without destroying them. Enrique used pins to hold to bugs in place, and removed them later using Photoshop. “To make this happen I had to become a mini expert in bugs,” Enrique says.
Like many of his sculptures, which tend to rot or fall apart, the Vader piece is fragile and the photo is the final product. Enrique feels the medium is a metaphor for his subject. “The butterflies have a meaning of metamorphosis, change happens,” he says. “Darth Vader was this good guy then he turns into the most evil person in the universe.”