I get asked a lot how I got into this, and I don’t have a cool story for you. I just wanted to. I just like it. I searched endlessly for information online and in books, picked brains when all else failed, and screwed things up from time to time. I’m not the best and I never will be. I just do what I want, and enjoy what I do.
I’ve kept reptiles since I was 9 years old. I’m in my thirties now and breed Eastern Indigos, my dream snakes. Through all of this I built up a large network of friends that also keep, breed, and even import reptiles. The obvious truth with all living things is that they eventually die, and when they do, these people freeze them for me. I also have always loved natural history and collecting skulls and bones. I had, over the years, picked up information on how bones were processed utilizing Dermestid Beetles and various degreasing and whitening methods. One day I realized that I knew a ton of reptile people and could just do this for myself. I originally planned to keep everything, but within a few months I had 2 chest freezers (plural, yes) filled to the brim with various dead animals. Mostly reptiles. I knew I didn’t have the space for all of that and people kept offering to buy what I was making, so I started selling it. So nothing is killed for my work. The majority of the species I work with are worth more alive than dead. I like reptiles, and I don’t eat them, so I don’t want to kill them.
The art came later. I started with skulls, and then moved on to fully articulated skeletons, but kept screwing things up. Which led to bags of bones just sitting around my office with bad hand writing on them listing the species inside. I have been a fan of bone art for years, but I didn’t want to just rehash other people’s concepts. So at first I just tinkered, then ideas would start forming while doing other things, and I eventually started building the ideas. I admittedly don’t make many art pieces. Only when I’m inspired to, and an idea is fairly, as far as I know at least, unique, and especially if the thought haunts me for too long. Then I have to make it…
I take commissioned skeletons on a case by case bases mostly based on if I want to build the particular species in question. However I will do skulls for any species.
I do not do art pieces via commission. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I have to be inspired. To put it bluntly, I don’t want to create your idea, I want to create my idea.
I use Dermestid Beetles and museum/university designed methods for all bone preservation. Everything is degreased and whitened properly before assembly.
I don’t have time to teach people or answer a flood of questions as what I do is complicated and impossible to teach via email or msgs. However I do have tutorials available here.
So there it is, the uneventful, boring story of how, why, and what.