Artist with Background in Criminology Turns Bones into High-End Jewelry

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Artist Kirstin Bunyard has managed to blend her two great passions – fashion and dissection – into a morbid yet intriguing art form. Kirstin makes high-end, elegant jewelry (rings, bracelets and necklaces) using natural bones. In 2009, she started her own label called Ossuaria Jewelry, through which she sells her handmade accessories. She personally selects the bones for each piece and fashions them by hand to create ‘bold and dramatic adornments’ that are meant for ‘people with a bit of an eccentric side’.

Kirstin has a background in criminology, but she was always interested in fashion as well. “From the time I was 10 years old, I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer,” she said. Her dream was to ‘take on the world of punk culture and high fashion’. She sketched all the time, waiting for the day when her creations would be displayed on the runway. But by the time she got to college, her life had taken a different course.

After college, Kirstin worked for a short while as an autopsy assistant and attended several autopsies and embalmings. During this time she developed a great admiration for bones – the structures that support the body. She found them so elegant and alluring that she began to believe that they deserved a more prominent place outside the body. That’s when she seriously began to consider shifting her line of work.

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Self-Taught Artist Builds Macabre Life-Size Motorcycles Out of Animal Bones

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Would you spend $55,000 on a motorcycle that doesn’t run? Before you make a decision on that, here’s what you need to know – the motorcycle in question is actually made of animal bones. A Florida man created the beast using a lot of pieces from other dead beasts – three to four cow skulls, two to three alligator skulls, bones of goats, wolves, raccoons, turtles and pigs, and a cow spine for each of the wheels. The bike is rather cheekily named: ‘Cowasaki’.

Reese Moore, the bike’s creator, said it takes him about a year to collect all the bones from dead animals on the side of the road, or carcasses from hunters and farmers. It then takes him a week to sand the bones down and but the bike together. It’s not just bikes – the 65-year-old also makes a host of other things with the bones, including dinosaurs and choppers. And when he isn’t doing that, he trains whales and sea lions, builds museum exhibits and performs in Timucuan Indian re-enactments. He was also a snake wrangler at one point.

“I don’t do anything normal,” Moore observed. “I just go around and show off and make weird stuff.” He got into the bones business after using them to make Halloween decorations for his kids sometime in the early 1990s. That year, he made a dinosaur out of an assortment of bones for his sons. When the owner of Froggy’s Saloon asked him if he could take the model, Moore had a better idea. “I was kidding, and I said, ‘I’ll build you a motorcycle for Bike Week.’” The bar-owner said it couldn’t be done and Moore accepted the challenge. “In about three or four days I called him up and told him he could pick up his motorcycle.”

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Honebana – The Detailed Animal Bone Flowers of Hideki Tokushige

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Excavated Neanderthal bones often had traces of pollen around them, indicating that even back then flowers were used to celebrate the deceased. Japanese artist Hideki Tokushige uses animal bones to recreate various flowers, thus honoring the longstanding connection between the two.

“We’ve been creating paintings and sculptures for over 70,000 years and our relationship to bones is just as old,” Tokushige explains. “Everything around us – clothes, nuclear power plants, internet – can be traced back to the structure of bones.” Inspired by the cycle of life and death and the relationship between flowers and death, the Japanese artist started creating stunningly detailed Honebana, or bone flowers. It all started one day, when Hideki Tokushige was coming home from work. He saw a dead raccoon in the middle of the street, and instead of simply ignoring it or throwing it in a waste bin, he took it home, removed the bones and used them as an art medium. Originally trained in photography, Hideki found a way to assemble the bones into intricate floral sculptures that are shockingly beautiful to look at.

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Artist Creates Creepy Firearm Models from Animal Bones

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New Zealand-based artist Bruce Mahalski collects animal bones and uses them to assemble creepy yet realistic-looking models of various firearms, including a Colt pistol and an AK-47 assault rifle.

Mahalski started collecting animal bones at a very young age. His parents were both scientists with collections of their own, and traveling all over the world gave them the opportunity to gather some very “interesting stuff”. In the early days of his artistic career, Mahalski experimented with a variety of mediums, from screen-printing, photography, painting and sculpture, but eventually returned to the thing that fascinated him the most – animal bones. In 2005 he created his first bone gun, and by 2010 he had already become an experienced bone artist. Most of Mahalski’s works reflect his interest in firearms and Pacific and African carving styles. They include bones from a variety of animals, birds and fish that the artist sources locally. His latest creation, a life-size AK-47 is made of rabbit, stoat, ferret, sheep, hawk, pheasant, wallaby,  snapper, snake, blackbird, tarakihi, hedgehog, broad-billed prion, shear water, thrush, seal ,cat and possum bones, plus a rare bone from a now-extinct moa the artist found in a cave. It was auctioned for $3,500.

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The Bone Collector – Man Amasses Creepy Collection of over 7,000 Animal Skulls and Bones

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Ray Bandar, a retired biologist from San Francisco, has spent the last 50 years collecting thousands of animal bones. He estimates he has 7,000 skulls, 200 pelvises and countless other limbs from animals he mostly found and cleaned himself.

“I enjoy removing the flesh from the skull and disarticulating the jaws,” Bandar recently said in an interview for National Geographic’s Taboo series. ”I see nothing gross about this, whether it’s a fresh animal or a badly decomposed animal, makes no difference to me.” The native San Franciscan grew up in the Richmond District and started collecting different animal specimens in junior high. That’s when he got the nickname “Reptile Ray”. As time passed, his passion for collecting and cleaning dead animals grew, and he is now the proud owner of a collection of over 7,000 skulls, including 2,600 from California marine mammals. Over the years, his own discoveries have been supplemented from local zoos, museums, taxidermists, roadkill, and trips to Australia, Africa and Mexico. His house is like no other on Earth – every room is virtually crammed with bones and skulls from animals Ray decapitated himself, but he still roams the beaches of Northern California looking for new and exciting additions to his museum home.

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Ukrainian Artist Creates Unique Paintings with Fish Bones Scales and Eyes

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Elena Zhuravskaya, an amateur artist from Kiev, Ukraine, uses fish bones, scales and even their boiled eyes to assemble amazing paintings on velvet canvases. Although her work is virtually  unknown outside her native country, I hope this article changes that.

I found photos of Elena’s works on a wonderful-yet-obscure blog called Viola, and after doing some “digging” I was able to find more info on this wonderful artist and her unique trade. Ms Zhuravskaya, who works as an architect in Kiev, has a very interesting hobby – she likes to use fish leftovers (bones, scales, eyes) to create detailed ivory-like paintings on dark velvet canvases. The self-taught artist has invented a number of bone-processing techniques which allow her to manipulate the fine medium into whatever shape she desires, although she admits working with such delicate materials is a painstaking process. So far, her fishy artworks have been displayed in various galleries around Kiev, leaving art-enthusiasts in awe of both her bizarre medium choice and amazing attention to detail.

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The Bone Chapel of Portugal – A Creepy Sacred Destination

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A structure with interiors covered completely in human bones – sounds like the stuff that scary houses are made of, right? But believe it or not, it is actually a place of worship. Capela dos Ossos, or the Chapel of Bones, is located next to the Church of St. Francis in the medieval Portuguese town of Evora. The 16th century chapel is a large room that has been adorned with the bones of over 5,000 monks.

The decision to use human bones as building material for a church is certainly an unusual one, but there’s a story to justify it. It seems that in the 16th century, Evora had about 43 cemeteries that took up way too much land. When the decision was made to destroy some of these cemeteries, the corpses of 5,000 monks were exhumed in an effort to save their souls from condemnation. It was decided that the remains of these monks would be relocated to the Capela dos Ossos. However, the existing monks soon realized that it might be a better idea to put these bones on display, rather than behind closed doors. These monks were concerned about the societal values of the wealthy town of Evora.  So they set about creating a place for meditation, a place where the undeniable reminder of death would help people transcend the material world.

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Extinct Bird Sculptures Made from Leftover Bones

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Christy Rupp, an artist based in Chelsea, has created skeletons of extinct birds with the help of chicken bones that she collected over a period of time. Rupp describes herself as an ecological artist. She’s put up the sculptures for display at a museum called the “Extinct Birds Previously Consumed by Humans.” Her goal is to draw attention to the number of species we humans have driven to extinction.

“In our lifetime, more things have gone extinct than in all of the time before us,” she said. Rupp is a vegetarian, and collecting chicken bones wasn’t easy for her. She started by rummaging through garbage cans at parties and barbecues. She would literally wait for people to throw out food, and sometimes get kids to help her too. Sometimes, she would wait for her friends to finish their meal, asking for the carcass as soon as they were done. She even went as far as putting an ad in a local circulation, asking people to save bones for her.

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Designer Makes Jewelry from Real Human Bones

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Columbine Phoenix is a talented jeweler with a taste for the macabre. She makes unique jewelry from human bones collected from medical schools and museums.

We’ve covered some pretty bizarre jewelry collections in the past, some were made from insects, others from nail clippings, and even human hair, but Columbine’s “Churchyard” line is the weirdest one yet. She uses various human bones donated for educational purposes and transforms them into unique pieces of jewelry that actually celebrate life rather than death. “Death is a part of life” the designer says in an interview with Vice Style “You can’t die unless you’re alive, and if we weren’t going to die eventually, a whole lot of us would never get around to living.” Strangely enough, that makes sense.

As a child, Columbine Phoenix loved shiny things, and she remembers playing pirates with her brother by stealing her grandmother’s rhinestone button collection from each other. Later she tried making embroidery-floss friendship bracelets and seed beads woven on a loom, but quickly lost interest in things everyone else was doing. She started making jewels from seashells, feathers and other stuff provided by nature, and when a friend from medical school asked her if she wanted to buy some small human bones for her work, she decided to give it a shot. His department was consolidating the bone collection and when he showed them to her for the first time, she knew they were just perfect. Human ivory she called them.

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The Art of Bones, by Francois Robert

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Francois Robert creates iconic shapes, using dozens of real human bones. He spends entire days on his knees, but the results are truly exceptional.

Francois has always been fascinated by skeletons, but it wasn’t until a day, in the mid 1990s, that he came face to face with one. He was at a yard sale, in Michigan, checking out some desks, for his office. He stumbled across three, two of which were empty,m and the third, with a complete human skeleton, inside. He took them all to his studio.

In 2007, as the recession began to think its teeth into the economy, Mr. Robert had so much time on his hands that he decided to turn to the skeleton in his closet. Because its parts were wired together, for educational purposes, the artist decided he needed one that could be broken down into pieces. So he traded his skeleton, for a box filled with 206 real human bones.

Since then, Francois Robert has been spending most of his days, on his knees, arranging even the tiniest bones into the right position, for the perfect shot. His collection is called “Stop the Violence”, and it was inspired by the author’s fear of death. He says “”The bones are something left behind, a form of memory, I try to treat that person on my studio floor with respect.”

via DesignObserver

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