Today I experienced what some people call the Bone Yard. If you know me or my work, you know that I’m obsessed with bones and all sorts of dark things. My goal while in Wyoming was to find some more bones for sculptures. Needless to say, I found bones. This place was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s a dumping ground for taxidermists and hunters, so there was a whole lot to choose from. A lot of pieces weren’t too clean, but I tried to grab some skeletons that were cleaner. I wasn’t even mentally prepared for what followed. First of all, I’m used to cleaning off bones in smaller quantities. These were from cattle, and were as big as me. They weren’t the cleanest, but I thought I could take the bones apart with a saw and then rebuild later. WRONG. The cartilage was so tough that I had to kick, stand on, and pull apart some of the bones. I even ran into a few in tact spinal cords which was far too much for me to handle in one day. I’m never grossed out by these types of things, but the spinal cord gave me an icky feeling. So I kept cleaning what I could, and ended up getting a whole lot of material out of these guys. Unfortunately, I had to throw out a lot of them, too. There was one spine I couldn’t bring myself to throw out, and so to save it from the ranch dogs and other critters, I hung it from a tree. Doesn’t it look like some sort of offering? Things got weird today, as you can see.
How I cleaned my bones: Try to get the cleanest bones possible. No blood, no flesh on it. And as little cartilage as possible. I made a hydrogen peroxide and water mix. Soak for 24 hours (I’m a clean freak) and then a second soak after that in a new mix. No bleach, that messes everything up. No boiling either!
I want to make a note here: I don’t hunt animals. I’m not killing anything to make my sculptures. The bones I use are all FOUND in the environment. I don’t spend money on buying the bones. This is solely a found object deal.