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Topic: Getting and using bones from animals  (Read 2266 times)
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« on: July 06, 2009 09:26:56 PM »

Hey all,

I want to use bones in my jewellery. I have a large dessicated dead fruitbat here and I'm not sure about the best way to get the bones and skull - will boiling make the bones brittle? I'm told from zoologists that you can bury the animal to let the flesh get stripped off but I'm not sure if that will rot the bone, or take a long time, or both.

Anyone got any experience with getting and/or using bones off animals, especially smaller ones? Any tips on procuring bones from farmed carcasses? (I don't eat much meat and I'd rather use waste.) Thanks!


« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2009 03:41:39 PM »

A very touchy subject in deed.. In today society.. more and more people are staying away from these type of subjects.. due to the fact we are animal lover.. Just seem that in this world once there was hunters and gatherers.. Now the tide has turn, there are more gathers then hunters..

But as for your question.. I would ask your local taxidermist.. because they acquire many animals in their attempt to "mummify" or "mounted displays" for the hunters.. In my case I have a friend who is a hunter and occasionally gives me deer antlers.. This is used in many forms of crafts like Arrow head making, or leather crafts..

The bone aspect can be a bit risky and not many user will gladly turn over the dead "fluffy" to be used in your jewelry..

But for a "barbaric" approach.. seek out science project or school supplies which offer "fake" or "plastic" bones (which look very life like) for research. One main issue you would face when using real bones. is the fact they disintegrate over time. thus the plastic bones would proceed this.
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2009 08:51:00 PM »

Thanks mate for your suggestions. Funny that it would be a touchy subject... most people in the world eat animals, but I guess many in the West wouldn't want to think about where that flesh comes from. I myself eat only a little meat, and then, I try to eat fairly sustainably... such as kangaroo. I'm all for using roadkill and other found dead animals in decoration... more ethical than using gemstones or silver or anything made in a factory that jewellers tend to use (even if it's vegan, lol). I tend to use seeds and shells and found fibres and stuff like that, and scavenged and recycled metals that otherwise would be sent to landfill or overseas to be smelted.

Interesting idea about taxidermy. I wonder if anyone in my home town does that? Problem is though that it's usually a male domain, and it's notoriously hard for a woman to access any knowledge in those domains unless she exchanges sex or the allure of, and I am neither single or het. My friend who belongs to a bowhunting club has that problem. I suppose I could ask her to ask others about bones from the pigs and deer they hunt, but that's a long shot given that she doesn't have any favours owed by them. However, when I finally get a car, I'll find much more roadkill I'm sure.

I'm not particulary looking for a barbaric ethnic-appropriation approach, just a sustainable one that reflects the uneasy urbanisation in the middle of the vast tropical wilderness I live in.

Bone will disintegrate like any other organic product... but polished up and kept moisture-free it will last for a very long time, much longer than wood Smiley

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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2009 09:47:41 AM »

I once cleaned a bunch of bones (from a whole chicken I'd baked) so the kids in my son's preschool could "discover" them in their sand area at school which I'd turned into an "archeological dig"...fun.  I found cleaning the bones to be quite fiddly and time-consuming though.  Trying to remember now which things I tried... I know I boiled them at one point, and scraped with wire brushes/etc at another point at least... and may have even soaked in a bleach solution.  

I think there should be info about this online though (btw, I don't think most taxidermists would be as bad as you expect... and may even consider you a fellow-traveler in that you're interested in bones, and "technical stuff" for cleaning them).
Just did some googling on bone cleaning ... check out these sites:

If you're interested, you can also make very convincing bone (and ivory and teeth) from polymer clay too.  (Polymer clay is really a plastic so won't last nearly as long as real bone, but would stll last plenty long for jewelry purposes if it's kept out of continuous and direct sunlight.)  You can even mix real bone with faux bone in jewelry, etc.  
There's lots of info on making faux bone and ivory on this page of my polymer clay "encyclopedia" site if you're interested in that:
(...unfortunately lots of the links are broken, ahd the sheen-y buffed surfaces of some of the ivory examples can't be seen in the photos very well, and I don't even have that many examples of bones in particular along with these lessons... but just take my word for it that when the techniques are done well, the results are pretty indistinguishable from the real stuff)
The Halloween page has lots more examples of bones too (skulls, skeletons, etc.):

Diane B.
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« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2009 11:19:52 AM »

I've used turkey vertebrae to make jewelry and dolls. But it was years ago, and I don't remember how I got the flesh off the bone. I think I may have let it dry (I live in the desert, so just putting it outside worked) and then picked off the dried bits of flesh and washed the bone. Be careful though with bones from scavenged animals because bone and its internalized nerve tissue can harbor diseases even after it's been dried.

I've also made bone-like objects from porcelain and white stoneware clay, sculpted and bisqued. That worked well because it retained the slightly rough surface that many bones have.

The general consensus for the bone jewelry was that it was too creepy. (Of course, I did mix it with knotted human hair and frankincense beads, so maybe the combination was too creepy?)

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« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2009 10:29:09 PM »

a weal lye solution can be used but you'll want to do HUGE RESEARCH before attempting this. (Some crime labs use lye solutions to strip flesh off skeletons) Lye is a base, not an acid, and it eats flesh. If you get it on yourself they'res no easy way to neutralize it. this shit's dangerous.

alternately, they'res a new material on the market sold under the brand name Faux Bone. it's a plastic and can be heat formed using a oven. It can also be cut, sanded, and polished.

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« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2009 09:22:15 PM »

Cheers for the responses. Since bats here can carry a really bad virus for humans, I should think pretty carefully about how I'd approach using it, if at all. Ditto for lizards.

I've worked with caustic soda before, that's a good idea. I'll experiment. I need to make up a strong batch of it to mercerise some cotton anyway. Plus I imagine it would kill viruses pretty effectively as well as being faster and less smelly than the rotting method.

Not interested in all in fake bones - it's the opposite of what I'm trying to do - create human things from wild things rather than wild things from human things - but I hope others gain inspiration.

« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2009 06:03:47 PM »

Call up your local university that has a decent biology or marine biology department.  Odds are they have archives (or can tell you which university does) of sample animals of the area, aka , skeletons all put up on display and neatly labelled. Ask them which professor to talk to. They can probably steer you in the right direction and give you some step by step directions.

I went through the annoying process of getting flesh off a fish...while keeping the fish bone stricture, including ligaments  intact!  Unfortunately I don;t remember alot of how to do it, only that it had a lot of steps and took forever.

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