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What creative things do you do with bones?  RSS feed

 
gardener
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I have a confession to make - I love dead things.

Okay, more like death byproducts, but I'm coming to realize that this isn't a morbid thing. Macabre though it may sound, I am just fascinated by what you can get from an animal besides meat. The past few years I've been slowly teaching myself the old way to tan hides, and as I begin to figure out what I'm doing more and more, I'm hoping to actually have some brain-tanned hides that aren't stiff as a board to use around the house soon.

It's just amazing what people throw out. I live in a very hunting-centric community, and we have an unofficial 'carcass dump' up the road, where there's a nice little ditch/ravine that hunters will cast off remainders of animals. It's a steep drop into it, and I'm not sure that I could get safely down and out, but I'm kind of dying to get into the death ditch and go bone hunting.

In the past, I've gotten some cast off hides to experiment with, but my sites lately have turned to bone - bone is beautiful. When I go out to forage or cut wood, I inevitably stumble upon the sun bleached remains of some poor creature that has since been consumed back into the earth, and I just find what's left behind so stunning.


How cool am I in these safety goggles? In my early days, I got sick of stripping membrane from an elk hide and took a grinding wheel to it. I would not recommend it.

I went out to cut fence posts last week, and came back with a massive and gorgeously intact bull skull from my grandparent's ranch that had been left in a field after one of their cow's had succumbed to some sort of injury. It's currently hanging on an old outbuilding, looking beautiful.

The year before we had our son, a nearby hunter literally gave me a whole frozen raccoon in a grocery bag - he'd trapped it to train his hunting dogs, and wound up never needing it. So I thawed it out, strung it up, gutted and skinned it, and brain tanned the hide, which I promptly turned into the world's stiffest coon skin hat (because I am one seriously lazy hide breaker). My husband still cringes when I wear that thing - let me tell you, raccoons are smelly critters to skin, and even though it's odorless now, I think he's still haunted by the memories of my skinning that thing in the wood room



My husband thinks I'm a total weirdo, and just laughs and shakes his head every time I bring home the unspeakable. I came home with a tiny Jeep packed with fenceposts, a sheepdog, and a toddler, with a bull skull lashed to the roof, and he wasn't remotely surprised.

Yesterday I was out gathering more materials though, and I stumbled across more beautiful sun bleached bones - at least two animals, small deer. The jaw bones in particular were very clear, and I had to resist every urge to gather them up and take them home, because here's the thing - what can I do with them?

I have a toddler around - dead animal parts need to be quickly cleaned, processed, and serve a purpose. I would love to create some badass jewelry, or a comb, or something, but I have no clue how to process them safely, what the old methods were -

Does anyone have any experience with processing bones into things that are sanitary, beautiful, and functional?
 
steward
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I once made my own woggle as a boy scout out of fur and lamb bones . And I know folks who use bones in making musical instruments
But more seriously you take care near that bone dump , it sounds like a place where Mr Bear amongst others might hang out you never know .

David
 
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Many years ago when I was weaving full time and making garments, I made bone buttons for the jackets. I used fresh cow leg bone (back when you could still get that at the butcher shop) and cut with a hacksaw to shape...drilled the holes and used a small file to smooth while set in a padded vice. Later, after drying a bit, I used a rock tumbler to really soften the edges. I loved them and don't have any of my own except maybe a small toggle on a vest somewhere.

Downside....the smell is almost nauseating when cutting and filing.

I don't know how older bone would work, maybe if not too weathered so it is weakened, it would be fine.
The fresh bone buttons would stay glossy and smooth as they aged.

EDIT to add pictures...found the vest and they are not toggles like I thought I remembered, but an example of leg bone buttons.....
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pollinator
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I sometimes use bones in decorative crafts.

More of my stuff: http://imagination-heart.deviantart.com/gallery/33561114/mixed-media
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Destiny Hagest
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Judith Browning wrote:Downside....the smell is almost nauseating when cutting and filing.



YES. One day I got curious and tried to make plug earrings out of a big molar, and man, that was quite a smell.

I dunno though, still not as bad as skinning a raccoon I think working in a vet's office for a few years has toughened me to disgusting smells though
 
Destiny Hagest
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I sometimes use bones in decorative crafts.

More of my stuff: http://imagination-heart.deviantart.com/gallery/33561114/mixed-media



That is so freaking cool!

We made a snow witch doctor one winter with a busted up cow skull I found - stuck him in the corner of our yard facing the road I don't think our neighbors were very amused.



I'm not nearly creative enough to create art though, how cool!
 
pollinator
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I have a toddler around - dead animal parts need to be quickly cleaned, processed, and serve a purpose.



Find a ant hill that is out of the way, where your toddler will not roam, put your bones on the ant hill and let the ants clean it for you. It may not be as quick as you want but they will do the job.
 
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I don't know that one can apply the term "creative" to this, but I recently started using the shoulder blade from some smallish critter (lamb? veal calf? pig? Our dog [and kids] finds and brings up all sorts of bone goodies to leave scattered around the yard) as a feed scoop for filling poultry feed troughs. Works especially well with soaked grain mash. I'd post a pic, but, really, it's just a shoulder blade.
 
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