Designing Bone Sculptures

Drawing lines on a horse sacrum bone before burning.

As with metal work, I use deep magnification to mark the surface of the bone in preparation for etching or burning. This is an intense process that I find both meditative and curious. I start out with an idea for where to place lines, and then once I’m in the middle of drawing, it changes course.

When I’m creating fractals, I become hyper focused with an ever expanding surface to explore. When I take off the magnification, I’m stunned with where the lines have taken me. The piece comes to life in this process, as if some kind of universal force has been the engineer.

In the end, the pictures that emerge are the result of allowing my hand to  follow  the flow and attempt to control the symmetry. But as with humans, no two sides of a creature are ever exactly the same.

Vellum’s “NYC” a Big Hit!

k-at-nyc
Stephanie Young of Vellum Magazine  is the curator of the show “NYC”. It features fourteen artists each with work that evokes conversations. As a collective, the works buzz with the energy of city life and what makes the Big Apple so unlike anywhere else on earth.

 

 

cat-mask-at-nyc

Cat mask displayed below  a silk hanging is reminiscent of  the “Caped Crusader”.

 

 

dk-at-nyc

 

Dark Knight stands dignified as a proud defender of Gotham with Ghost Dancers in his wake, representing citizens enjoying the night life indifferent to dangers that lurk in the shadows.

 

 

 

 

If you are anywhere near the Lower East Side, check out the show at Offline at CENTRAL BOOKING,  21 Ludlow Street. You won’t be disappointed.

http://www.vellumartzine.com/vellum-magazine-presents-nyc-march-2-19-2017/

Goo goo g’joob to Show in Brownsville, Texas!

Walrus
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob.

Goo goo g’joob has been selected for the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art 45th International Art Show in Brownsville Texas from 3/22/17 – 4/5/17. Jurors for this show include Cesar Martinez from San Antonio, Texas, Angel Cabrales, El Paso, Texas, and Annie Moye from Atlanta, Georgia. 

“Goo goo g’joob ” is the name of this mixed media bone sculpture,  When I decided to make a walrus, I had in mind a face with puffed out cheeks and tusks on top of  a bone body angled as if laying on a rock basking in the sun.  What is particularly unique about this piece is that when I made the face,  I needed to puff out the cheeks in order to create a space for the tusks. I had to bend the metal from the back in a process called Repoussé. It called for some intricate engineering done under deep magnification. After inserting the tusks, I hand milled from a petrified mammoth tusk, the face seemed to come together naturally. I was quite pleased with all I taught myself in the process of making the sculpture. The walrus is the most whimsical of the series,  so I named him after the Beatle’s song,”Goo goo g’joob ” .

 

 

Prince of Tides Series

1st of "Prince of Tides" series
1st of “Prince of Tides” series

Prince of Tides Series – March 4, 2016

I have always been drawn to Native American symbols. The Y’ei mask is particularly interesting. The geometric shapes are deeply symbolic. The name Yei derives from the word Yeibicheii meaning the Holy People.

I began creating these masks as a way of teaching myself metal work. Once I discovered how the Y’ei masks complimented the etched bone sculpture, I gave it a copper face and created my first mixed media sculpture. 

Ironically, my first piece was created on the day Pat Conroy died, March 4, 2016, and so I named it “Prince of Tides.” It gives a voice to these jawbones and sets them in a human posture with their arms waving as if floating mysteriously in tidal water. It all fit together so nicely that I call the sculptures the “Prince of Tides” series.

There are ten  sculptures in the series so far: Prince of Tides, Trumpeter, Medicine Woman, Sedna, Narwhale, Twins, Royal Couple, Walrus, Odin, and Pretty White Bird.

Working with Bone

I have never had any formal training as an artist. In my thirties, I began to read about Native American culture and went on a bit of a spiritual quest. I began to look at my surroundings and my relationship with nature in a new way. I was always curious about the fractals in natural objects, and eventually I tried to capture them in abstract photography. This progression led to an ever increasing interest in 3D. I painted, sculpted clay, and then I began to carve wood. At the onset of winter, I would close up my landscaping business and begin to explore. I started to collect bones until it seemed like an obsession. One day, while examining how pieces of bone fit together, I invented “Ghost Dancers”. I’d transformed tiny muskrat jawbones into what looked like three ghosts dancing on a boom-a-rang.

Eventually, I put the bones aside and began to work with metal. I took some classes and learned the basics. Complex metallurgy seemed to come naturally to me; I don’t why. I developed a line of metal jewelry, and I really thought I was destined to be a metal smith. Along the way, I developed a design for a mixed metal Navajo Yei mask. When I held one of the masks up to a deer jaw bone, I knew I had stumbled onto something unique. It was something that satisfied my passion for minute details, my interest in fractals, and my love of form. It was both enchanting and symbolic, and I have been refining that mixed media concept ever since.

etching
Carving into the bone with a dental tool.

Working with bone is a lot like working with ivory: it’s harder than wood, but softer than most stone. It picks up the light in a beautiful way; the inner material is porous and can be used to accentuate shading.  Discolorations from the soil it laid in stain its surface and can create different tones. It requires a lot of sanding to rid the exterior crust and reveal the luminous ivory beneath. Because bone is a living material, no matter how old, the bacteria that was in the bone still exists. The dust can be quite toxic, so I have to wear a mask and use a downdraft system. I use a variety of tools such as Dremels, dental tools, and bone saws. Some tools I’ve made myself, and some I’ve modified. I primarily work with deer, moose, and cow jawbones, but I’ve also worked with horse sacrum, and cow vertebrae.

Sculpture, Jewelry, and Design