woensdag 19 november 2014

Where do you get your bones from?

There are two things I always hear from people when they see my work at fairs, festivals or exhibitions:
They will first mention; 'I have never seen anything like this before' when they move onto the question; 'Where do you get your bones from'? First, I thank you all for the first comment! I consider that to be a great compliment, because I don't like making what other people have made! I want to answer your question in this blog post.

Unlike some of you that wonder whether I go out to kill innocent animals in the wild, steal dead animals from Abattoirs or simply eat loads of meet to keep the bones while making the local butcher rich….I just collect the bones in the wild when the animal has already died. Big or small I use both, but  different sizes means different ways of collection in my case and will explain how I deal with the small animals this time.

I often go out running or cycling and if you keep an eye out you will see a lot of small animals dead on paths and roads. Most of them, especially in very busy urban areas, will be quite useless because half of the bones are broken by cars driving over them multiple times. Key is to find roadkill that hasn't felt the hard side of our society's favourite mode of transport to often: How flat is it? If it still has an 'natural' shape, does it still have eyes or an intact rectum? If yes, it probably died in the last 24 hours and is probably not hit very often. Small animals like this will loose a lot of hard material like nails, vertebrae and teeth very quickly. So I often collect the whole animal and place it in my garden so I can control its decay and make sure I get most of the bones.

This summer I find a grey squirrel while out on the bike and took it home. Interesting to see how quickly flies came on it.

On the same they when this squirrel died


On the same they when this squirrel died, took extra care to trap the tail bones, hope it works!


After one and a half week where you already see lots of maggots in its head, no those are not teeth!


I didn't have time to clean it, but it is ready now to strip it down into bones and I will still expect some flesh turned into 'leather' and lots of fur, but besides that it should be clean of any other soft tissue. Then I will keep it exposed in a tray for the winter to come in a sunny place to prevent algae growing in the bone. If you want white bones, make sure you are quick enough from this stage to separate the bones from the tissue and remove them from the soil, because the soil will give it a brownish colour. But if that happens I can always make a fridge magnet installation on my fridge or like I did two years ago; split them an spread them around the city as an easter hunt if you have a hare or rabbit:




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