Thursday, 23 July 2015

Dem bones... (slight return)

I was recently reminded about a chicken bone necklace (thanks to a post over at the fine blog Across The Kitchen Table).  Oh, I loved that necklace - for a particular period at least.  Through what you might call the 'goth' phase, though it seemed different then ('81/'82). Anyway, I mentioned it here once a few years ago (when I was still quite new to blogging) and, being stuck for time and inspiration at the mo, thought I'd give that old post another airing... here it is.  Sorry for being so lazy!

 ~~ O o ~ :~ x ~: ~ o O ~~

The other day I mentioned to someone that, when we were children, my older sister had a pickled bat in her bedroom.  I know that sounds weird out of context but, for my teenage sibling who excelled at Biology, the obvious thing to do with a dead (but otherwise perfect) pipistrelle that had been found in the garden was to preserve it in formaldehyde and keep it in a jam-jar in her room.  It then formed part of a display that would have been at home in any scientific laboratory or natural history museum. If my memory serves me well the pickled numbers included a fish eye and a chicken’s foot, which were given space alongside various dried butterflies, a sheep’s skull and a tank full of (thankfully alive) African aquatic toads.  It may sound like something out of the set of a horror B movie or perhaps some strange herbal medicine emporium but as she was my big sis it seemed normal to me, and nurtured a keen early interest in all things natural.

If only I'd realised the value of drawing such things from life then rather than just drawing characters from my imagination, I could have sneaked into her room and filled a sketchbook with studies of these fascinating objects too.  But I think perhaps it did spark a rather subtle fascination for bones.  I’ve no desire to see or find any human bones, although I did like looking at the repro human skeleton we had hanging up in the art-room at school, but I do like it when I’ve been digging in the garden and come across a tiny bone from a small rodent or perhaps a bird.  They're so fragile and yet so strong, so insubstantial looking but so robust.  When you look at a bird’s skull, a casing so fine that it seems more delicate even than eggshell and the connecting bones as thin as a thread of cotton, it's a wonder that the bird itself could ever have been so strong and unbreakable to get through its life at all. 

It’s with some embarrassment that I recall using bones to make my own jewellery.  It seemed right at the time – listening to music that was part tribal, part goth (Southern Death Cult being favourite) – to accessorise with some strange ancient or ethnic objects, especially anything that could be found for free.  So, my mum boiled up some chicken bones from a roast dinner (I didn't eat roast dinners!) and a friend from college brought in some of his dog’s old teeth, and I strung them together with some wooden beads.  Here's a drawing I did at the time of the necklace I wore daily (usually teamed up with some earrings I’d made from the smaller bones).


Proof that my fascination with natural history has remained is that I still feel compelled to keep any bird skulls I find (although not in the bedroom...).   I think the small one below is from a goldfinch and the larger one from a starling.  Whilst I always prefer to see these wonderful birds alive and well, I like looking at the skulls just to remind myself of how amazing these delicate little creatures are underneath their feathers.  And if I were ever to find a dead bat, I might just be tempted to pickle it as well.




14 comments:

  1. That necklace looks like it would fit in very nicely with the whole witchy/boho vibe that's around at the moment, maybe you could write a tutorial :D (and nice to see a shout for ATKT, been reading that one for years)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, perhaps I should've kept it....

      Delete
  2. It's a lovely drawing, C! I think bones (and old driftwood) make for wonderful sketching/photography subjects.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks VS. Yes I agree about subjects for drawing, I'll have to sketch my skulls...

      Delete
  3. What a fascinating woman you are C! I appreciate you following my blog. I am going to have to crank it up a notch. Excellent and fun post. Eyes wide open and smiling!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, thank you Gin G!
      I especially love the excellent photos on your blog. Always beautiful, and frequently of scenes so different to those familiar to me here. Lovely!

      Delete
  4. The things we do when we are younger - a bone necklace - nice. Actually, it does look pretty inspired. Birds bones really are quite incredible, aren't they? I like those skulls above. As for your sister's collection - that sounds rather radical.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My collection of bird skulls is growing.. oddly I found two not far from each other in the garden a few months ago and can only surmise that they were blown there by the wind as they were not hidden away. I've also just added a tiny baby shrew's bones - I saw the little body before it decomposed, now it's just a shiny skull, the teeniest tiniest rib-cage and tail bones... absolutely miniature but so perfectly, exquisitely formed.
      My sister went to a school where they kept farm animals and exotic snakes amongst other things, so access to some of her weirder specimens was easier than it sounds!

      Delete
  5. We found a teeny tiny skull in the garden a while back, which we think belonged to a vole - such a delicate thing. Unfortunately I was a little careless with my hoovering a couple of weeks ago so we no longer have it! Talking of bats, have you seen many this year? We've only spotted a couple - well down on the usual numbers. Is it just us?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops, but probably not worth rooting through the hoover bag for that skull!
      I haven't seen any bats this year, even though the air seems to be full of insects at the moment so you'd think there'd be plenty of food to attract them. It seems to vary from year to year, but I love seeing them when they fly low over the garden on a late Summer's evening, and hope there are still plenty around.

      Delete
  6. Hi C,

    Just in case you want to catch up on missed posts, I sent you an invite to my "storage facility."

    Marie

    Marie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Marie - we've emailed in the interim!

      Delete
  7. Your sister is cool, these bird skulls would look good on a necklace too....I am off to look for a dead snake!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Old Pa, nice to see you again. Oh a skull necklace, that would look pretty spectacular. Let me know if you find that dead snake too!

      Delete

Please come in, the door is open

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...