Yay! I finally get to post on a topic I actually know something about!
First post, actually. Bones are actually incresebly easy to come by. I like to use bird bones for my crafts, since they are lightweight and easily drilled. My current project is a bone bra. (can we say Baba Yaga?) I'll try posting a picture of a mask I made from a turkey carcass, but I never have much luck with the pics...
Chicken bones are a personal favorite, simply due to the abundance. I down at least a hundred buffalo wings a week (yeah, I'm a barfly) and never forget to bring the big purse or ask for a to-go container to bring them to my cat (servers like to lecture ya on how dogs can choke). Some happy hours feature unlimited buffalo wings
Both the wings and legs are about the size youre looking for. Rotisserie chickens are good too. They come with the complete spine, which is cool looking if you have the patience to put it back together after boiling.
Like the Indie Anna said, boil the heck out of them to loosen the remaining meat/yuck/cartilige. You'll know when its done when you see/smell broth and boiling fat. The meat will turn a lighter shade. It comes off pretty easy an rinses off with a little finger working. I like to throw mine in the dehydrator since I'm impatient, but you can let them air dry too. As far as bleaching, it will eat away the bone. Make a diluted bucket of bleach and let them sit as long as it takes to acheive the shade you want.
A good dremel tool or something like it is invaluable. The turkey mask above was done with hot glue, and I totally regret it. Falls apart every time I move it.
As for other bones, roadkill is the way to go. If you think about it (my way), you are actually doing a service to the animal by taking it out of the road where it would only be further disrespected by being smeared across a mile of asphalt. Its so much nicer to celebrate its life by turning it into something beautiful. Ya probably don't want to stick a squirrel or deer head in your kitchen pots, so dig it a nice hole, say a little prayer for it, and cover it with lime from the garden store. Wait a week or two for the lime to dissolve the flesh, etc. and dig it up. Viola! Roadkill usually has only one or two broken bones if you get it early enough. A deer often only suffers from a broken rib. If it has any meat showing, its probably been hit too many times to use the bones, but be nice and toss it out of the road anyhoo
I hope this helped at least a little. I'll post pics of the bra as soon as its done. Maybe I'll finally take a pic of the chicken spine earrings....
-Sybill "bone mama" 777