The Process: Part One

Behind the scenes, Pop Bugs

Making Travel Bugs can be fun, exciting and frustrating. Every bug has to go through a design process before I begin to model it out of clay.



These are concept sketches from the initial design process for my first Travel Bug. Here I was looking for a style that would be relatively uncomplicated, easily replicated and cute. The initial idea was to make it look like a bug that was going on a holiday, hence the briefcase and plane tickets and the slater with luggage tied to his back like a station wagon.

As the process went on I realised the “beetle” design worked best for my intended outcome. Thus I set to work making the first bug.

Adam was the original Travel Bug and he looks distinctly different to the bugs that are being made now. His arms are curled, his feet are tapered, his tummy and shell are roughly made, his antennae are made of the same clay as the rest of him, yet he’s definitely a Travel Bug. However the flaws in this design became apparent after going on trips. The main flaw was the antennae that kept breaking off. I lost count of the times I had to reattach them, but it was all part of the process. After a while I realised that a light gauge wire, such as florist wire, might be a better option and I’ve been using that ever since.


As a big test of my abilities to craft large quantities of bugs in a small timeframe I set about making bugs as wedding favours. 35 bugs in fact. Each bug was crafted individually, from scratch, with an individual look and accessories. A few were even tailored for specific guests.


That was a very involved process indeed. As is probably evident also is that they were all on keychains. At that point I thought that was the best way to make them travel-friendly (I still make a few on keychains) and they held up pretty well overall, but they take an awful beating if attached, for instance, to someone’s car keys. I have since decided to make the keychain optional.

Hanging out

Hanging out

Since then I have decided to take these little bugs in a different direction. Being heavily influenced by Funko’s Pop! series of figures I decided to try making pop-culture themed bugs. Let me tell you, the sheer number of options is daunting! This can be evidenced by the copious notes I’ve taken of pop-culture franchises to look into.

Makes my tendonitis play up just looking at it

Makes my tendonitis play up just looking at it

The process of looking up franchises, determining the most popular characters and adapting them is very time consuming but incredibly enlightening.

DSC_0067  gbsketches  DSC_0074


Still, the results can be surprisingly satisfying as an artist when they come through the crafting process successfully.

Trial and error has an awful lot to do with the road to success however. In part two I’ll cover the process of actually sculpting the bugs.

Sovereign Hill, Ballarat



One of my favourite places to visit is a theme park in Ballarat, Victoria, known as Sovereign Hill. It is a very popular attraction for tourists from all over the world and has earned several awards including the Victorian Tourism Award nine times and the Australian Tourism Award twice for ‘major tourist attraction’ and a Victorian Tourism Award Hall of Fame place.


Sovereign Hill opened in November, 1970, as a “living museum” to educate about life on the goldfields during the Australian Gold Rush of the 1860s with costumed staff, working machinery and visitor participation.




The park is large and would take about two days to see in its entirety as well as see all of the demonstrations. Within the grounds is a main road flanked by shops including, but not limited to, a blacksmith, post office, photographer, sweet shops, bakeries, clothiers and a theatre. Also on the grounds is a small goldfield with a stream running through it here visitors can look for real gold, a replica of a Chinese miner’s settlement, an underground mine, various steam powered machinery, a school, two churches and residential style buildings.




Demonstrations range from blacksmithing, to smelting gold, to making the famous boiled sweets that the park is renowned for. There is also street theatre including a demonstration by the red coat soldiers (you should really cover your ears for that one). The actors are friendly and obliging to visitors looking for a photo opportunity. There are guided tours of the underground mine shaft as well that are very enlightening and nothing prepares you for the brilliant white-hot glow of smelted gold being poured into an ingot mold.




Another highlight of any trip to Sovereign Hill is the food. Apart from a more conventional cafeteria, there are lolly shops and patisseries on the main street as well as the New York Bakery where you can have a delicious meal. But by far the most sought after thing is the raspberry drops. These tiny balls of red, sugary delight are responsible for the many scarlet tongues you’ll find around the attraction. There’s even a demonstration of how the sweets are made with a tasting straight afterwards!


One of the attractions that is becoming increasingly popular at Sovereign Hill is Christmas in July. For the month of July, which is the height of winter in Australia, the streets are decked with boughs of holly, wreaths, decorated fir trees and oversized nutcrackers. The red coat soldiers perform their act on the balcony of the New York Bakery with a snowy surprise at the end. Vendors sell Christmas baubles and gingerbread houses, adding to the festive cheer.




Entry to the park will also give you access to the Gold Museum across the road where you can learn about Ballarat’s pioneer history and the role of gold in shaping the area.



Sovereign Hill is located on Bradshaw street, Ballarat, 116km from Melbourne (roughly an hour and a half drive). It is open 10.00 am to 5.00 pm every day except Christmas Day. During daylight saving, Sovereign Hill is open until 5.30 pm. There is time unlimited free parking on-site.


Adult $52.50
Concession $42.00
Child (5-15) $23.80
Family (2 adults & up to 4 children) $132.00
Single Parent Family (1 adult & up to 3 children) $95.00

Children under 5 admitted free.
Red Hill Mine Tours are free. Gold Mine Tours: $7.50 Adult, $4.00 Child (5-15), $20.00 Family (2A & 4C)
Coach Rides: $5.50 Adult, $4.00 Child (5-15), $17.00 Family (2A & 4C)

Note: Sovereign Hill is a not-for-profit organisation and all money raised goes straight to covering overheads. Some shops and attractions within the grounds are independent of the park and charge their own prices. Tickets are valid for two days entry (as long as you validate this on the first day at the ticket booth).


For more info:

Kangaroo Ground Memorial Tower



Also known as the Eltham War Memorial Tower, this historical structure is located in Kangaroo Ground on Garden Hill, roughly 33km from the city of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia.

The tower is surrounded by conifers and perched on a hill overlooking the sprawling, spectacular “green wedge” that encompasses towns such as Eltham, Research and Warrandyte as well as the Dandenong and Kinglake ranges, and is nestled in one of Victoria’s renowned wine regions. The drive to the tower is beautiful as you pass pastures, olive groves and vineyards. It’s a perfect view on a clear day.



Outside the tower are some plaques that give a bit of context. The tower was constructed in the mid-1920s to commemorate the men that went to fight in the Great War. It was commonplace for men fallen in action to never have their bodies returned home from the conflict so many memorials were built for the families to reflect and grieve. Unveiled on Remembrance Day, 1926, it has had some modern additions due to its function as a fire-spotting tower during the summer months.These add-ons don’t detract from the beautiful sandstone structure. Inside is a wrought iron spiral staircase that leads up to the rooftop to offer the best views.


The tower grounds are conveniently equipped with picnic tables and benches. Adjacent is a small reserve that has been dedicated to educating about the indigenous and pioneer history of the area and preserving part of the lands.


The memorial tower is a beautiful place for a picnic and some quiet reflection on the history of the area.

Located on Eltham-Yarra Glen Road, Kangaroo Ground, admittance is free. The tower is open to the public until dusk.

Social Media

Social Media

Did you know that on top of WordPress, Etsy and Facebook Travel Bugs can be found on Instagram?

Follow us to see what mischief Dinny and Nigella are up to or to get a sneak peek behind the scenes.

We’re also on Twitter!

There are really so many ways to keep abreast of what is happening in the world of Travel Bugs!


Pop Bugs

I like many others of my generation grew up loving Ghostbusters. I watched the films and the animated series over and over, I had the toys, I even had a costume with a proton pack my Dad built me out of an old vacuum cleaner. I’ve carried this love into my adult life too.

When I decided to create a series of “Pop Bugs” inspired by the incredibly popular Funko Pop! vinyl dolls, one of the first designs I devised was a ghostbuster and a Mr. Stay Puft.

Buster Bug and Stay Puft Bug

Buster Bug and Stay Puft Bug

That proton pack was a pain to downsize and craft, but I wanted to be authentic to the films. Of course, I have designs for bugs based on the actual characters from the movies and animation too but I have so many other bugs in the works that I’ve put them on hold for now.

Now, anyone that is anyone will know that a reboot is underway of this magnificent franchise. I was very hesitant at first but as info has slipped out I’ve become more and more excited about this new all-female outing directed by Paul Feig (famous for Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy).
Imagine how much I flipped out when I woke up this morning to the following image tweeted by the director himself:

Seriously! Oh my giddy aunt! They look so cool. I adore the new hearse version of Ecto-1 and the way that this really does look like it’s paying homage to the original while creating something new. Needless to say I’ve already been drafting designs (which I will share later when they are more completed).

I can’t wait to see what else they’ve got in store for us!

In the meantime, here’s the “pilot” for the Ghostbusters animated series.

Bug Music!

Uncategorized – The Ladybugs: I’m Crazy ’bout my Baby – The Buggles: Video Killed the Radio Star – Buddy Holly and the Crickets: Rave On – The Cockroaches: She’s the One – Adam and the Ants: Antmusic – Sting: An Englishman in New York – The Beatles: Back in the U.S.S.R – The Flies: I’m Not Your Stepping Stone – The Grasshoppers: The Wasp – W.A.S.P: Wild Child – The Bumble Bees: Maybe Someday – Iron Butterfly: In A Gadda Da Vida – Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass: The Spanish Flea

And finally… – Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Flight of the Bumblebee


Geocaching Project 1: Update 25/06

Geocaching Project 1


Well, it’s been a while between updates and the reason is – we’ve been waiting to hear where these guys are!

So, the bugs have finally all been planted: Raleigh in Eltham, Leif in Warrandyte, Napoleon in Melbourne, Vittorio in Woolloongabba and Burley in Canberra.
The only one that we know has been travelling is Leif. Leif began by the Yarra river in Warrandyte before heading up to Byron Bay. He did some site seeing before stopping off at the Byron Bay lighthouse. From there he went to Sydney, then down to Kilcunda and the last place he was seen was in Phillip Island. There have been no updates on him since then and there have been no reports of any of the others either yet.
It may simply be a matter of waiting, but we hope in the meantime the bugs are off on some exciting adventures.