Love Bugs

Love Bugs

‘Tis the season to flutter with love! Learn how to handbuild adorable Love Bugs using air-dry clay, wires, and paint to bring your cute creatures to life.


  • Air Dry Clay
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Wire
  • Modeling Tools
  • Paint Brushes
  • Pliers
  • Wire Cutters
  • Clay Cutters

Step 1: Open the air-dry clay container and tear off a few handfuls of clay. 

Step 2: Work the clay into three shapes for the insect body. Use water to smooth the clay if needed. 

Step 3: To attach multiple segments of the love bug’s body, score the clay with a modeling tool and apply water to create a slip. Attach the two pieces together by pressing firmly. 

Step 4: Use modeling tools to smooth the connection between the segments. 

Step 5: Create wings by rolling clay and flattening with your palms. Slip and score the wings and body to form a solid connection.

Step 6: Use your fingers and modeling tools to refine the shapes of the wings.

Step 7: Roll a flat piece of clay and use the metal clay cutter to create hearts or other shapes to add as decoration. 

Step 8: Use thick wire to create legs. The video demonstrates two types of legs. The first uses one long piece of wire bent to create a knee and a foot on both sides of the bug, pushed all the way through the bug. The second type uses six smaller lengths of wire, bent once to create a knee and inserted into the bug’s body to make the legs. Once the clay dries, glue can be used to secure these legs if needed.

Step 9: Use thinner wire to create curled antennae. Insert these into the head of the bug.

Step 10: Allow the bugs to dry for two to three days. Use acrylic paint to add color to the bug. Remember to paint the underside of the bug’s body.

Ideas to take your love bugs to the next level:

  • Add more mixed media! Combine clay with other materials like fabric or beads to add texture and depth to your sculptures. For example, you could incorporate tiny fabric wings.
  • Play with a diverse color palette. Consider using gradient effects, metallic paints, or iridescent colors to make the love bugs stand out and catch the eye.
  • Develop a narrative or a story around your love bugs and draw a storyboard to develop them as characters. This could be expressed through the poses, interactions between the bugs, or additional elements added to the scene. 

Learning and Discussion Questions:

Did you know that love bugs are real? They exist! The lovebug (Plecia nearctica) is a species of march fly found in parts of Central America and the southeastern United States, especially along the Gulf Coast.

  • Watch this video about love bugs and consider the questions below:
    1. How do real bugs contribute to ecosystems, and what characteristics make them essential to our environment?
    2. In what ways can understanding entomology enhance our appreciation for the natural world and biodiversity?
    3. What unique features do “love bugs” typically have, and how might these characteristics be translated into the sculptures you are creating? 
    4. How can educators and parents continue to support and nurture children’s interest in entomology beyond the workshop?

WheatonArts Family Art Workshop video tutorials are presented by PNC Arts Alive!

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