Josh Gosik calls himself an “insect guy.”
Gosik, who works as a cook for both the Harbour Pub and Pegasus Coffee House, spends his off-hours making dragonflies.
“I’ve always been kind of a ‘bug person,’” Gosik, who once wanted to be an entomolgist, said. “As a kid I always had ant colonies and spiders.”
His bugs have bodies of coiled copper wire and glass marble eyes, and wings are silk or rice paper stretched over wire. They range in size from two inches to two feet.
Gosik’s dragonflies flew to the island recently; he moved to Bainbridge Island last November from Eugene, Ore. to sell bugs at the Pike Place Market.
“The market was definitely the attraction,” Gosik said. “Pike is the premier oulet of its kind I have found anywhere.”
He camped out at Fay Bainbridge State Park when he first arrived on the island, but now shares what might be one of the last cheap island rentals with five roommates.
Tucked away in a wooded lot in Winslow, the ramshackle house has casual decor that includes a battered Barbie doll atop books about raising dairy goats and chickens and features hundreds of albums of cajun and zydeco music.
Gosik’s dreadlocks and free spirit might make him seem like an unreconstructed ‘60s kind of guy, but he says he gravitated to the Middle Ages to learn to make art and dragonflies.
Introduced to the Society for Creative Anachronism by friends when he was 18, Gosik spent the next decade deeply involved with that group, which gathers artists to recreate the Middle Ages in detail.
Gosik says he started out in SCA clad in the standard-issue peasant’s sack the group hands beginners, but soon was fabricating his own armor.
“Everyone who joins becomes creative and artistic, because you make your own clothes and tools. Everything you do is researched in detail,” he said. “It’s not just knights in combat – there is the bardic circle, who are very into Celtic history, and there’s also the merchants.”
Gosik constructed a complete suit of chain-mail that weighed more than 70 pounds, made of about 36 brass links per square inch.
Gosik began to market smaller pieces of his hand-made chain- mail at Rennaisance fairs around the country.
Soon he adapted the metalwork he had learned making his chain mail to constructing dragonflies.
“I had gotten used to working with brass and copper wire,” Gosik said, “so I made these wire dragonflies to attract people to my chain-mail booth. Soon bug sales surpassed chain-mail sales.
“It’s because I can make them faster,” he said. “I can make a big dragonfly in a few minutes, but it takes two years to make a complete suit of chain-mail.
Key to the bugs’ successs is the adjustable hanging device Gosik devised to suspend the flies.
He lures customers into his Pike Place booth by making “bug sounds,” producing buzzing, whirring and clicking that he says mimic bug mating calls.
“For my next trick, I want to learn to ride a unicycle and make dragonfly wings to hang off my back,” Gosik said. “But the ultimate gypsy dream would be getting a boat and finding a woman to live on it with me. She has to be in tune with the insect world, though.
“She has to buzz.”