How to prepare specimens safely.

How to get the bones from animal remains you find that still have a bit of meat on them, and which are not dried out:

 Wear disposable gloves. Wild animals carry loads of diseases which you can in fact succumb to, such as rabies, flu, and even leprosy (YES, leprosy).

This is the low-investment method. You can also bury or macerate the remains to get the bones; but maggot cleaning will be less involved. You could get a beetle box, but maggot cleaning is less upkeep.

  • DO NOT BOIL OR SIMMER BONES. Cooked bones can and will ROT! Boiling breaks the fibers that hold bone together, making them brittle, and thinning them. Let nature do the work for you! (and keep the stink outside!)
  • Put them on a piece of window screen that is twice their size, and wrap them up in it. Fold over the edges to close it like a pocket, leaving a one inch opening on one end for flies and other insects to get in.
  • Hang the corpse-pocket up outside. You want it up out of reach of cats and dogs, but low enough that you can reach it. I hang remains from a tree limb near my house. You can also wrap the corpse this way and then bury it a foot deep or less. Either way, insects will do the cleaning for you. This will not work in winter though.
  • Wait a few weeks, less if it is hot/humid. check on your developments. at some point the bones will be fully exposed, and all meat will have been picked away by insects.
  • soak the bones in HOT water and blue Dawn dish detergent. Change out the water/detergent mix every day. It can cool off overnight, just use hot water to refill it each day. Use about two cups of Dawn per gallon of water. Do this until the bones are not yellowish with fat anymore.
  • Scrub the bones in cold water with more dish soap. Then soak again in HOT water, mixed 1:1 with regular old store-type peroxide. YOU DON’T NEED BLEACH; BLEACH WILL MAKE THE BONE CRUMBLY AND WEAK, AND SOFTEN IT. Peroxide and hot water will disinfect just as well, when used in conjunction with the soap soak. refill/continue soaking until the bone is as white as you’d like. I find that it usually takes three water changes to get the ivory-cream tone I prefer.
  • Dry the bones thoroughly, NOT IN THE SUN. Then spray, with a coat of matte UV protectant. Sun exposure, like bleach, degrades and weakens bone.
  • The best way to hang a skull is to string it on thick, soft twine through the orbital bones, then hang that on a hook on a mountboard. I like to attach the jaw as well, and pose and articulate bones- I’ll go over that stuff in a later post.

TEAL DEER: 

DON’T FUCKING BOIL OR BLEACH BONES! IT DESTROYS THEM!

How to disinfect feathers (legal ones- domestic and game birds)

Find out if they’re legal to own!

Wear disposable gloves.

Be especially cautious with feathers, because bird flu is an actual thing. So is west nile virus, salmonella, and more…

  • Figure out if it is a land or water bird. Water birds have oil in their feathers, land birds do not.
  • Figure out if the feather is legal to own or not. You can check the list here to find out.
  • Spray with alcohol (land bird) or tea tree oil, almond oil, or oil-based castile soap (water bird) and let dry.
  • Soak a paper towel with full-strength hand sanitizer, and wipe feather gently, in the direction of growth. Soak the feather well.
  • Tie a string to the base of the shaft and hang the feather, shaft up, overnight to dry out.
  • Using hot water, wipe the feather down again. Let dry. Use almond oil (water bird) or a damp cloth (land bird) to smooth the feather to shape it again. Again, let it dry completely.
  • Smooth out with your fingers to re-shape the feather and re-attach each strand of it.
  • To dye land-bird feathers, use translucent, lightfast inks (FW, or diluted liquid acrylics) and wipe ink onto feather surfaces in the pattern you want, or better yet, spray it on lightly. let it stand until the ink has dried, then wipe gently with a damp rag, using your fingers to smooth the surface and attach the strands.
  • To dye water bird feathers, use an oil paint, diluted with almond or walnut oil. Make sure to re-shape the feather several times during the drying period, or the strands will clump together.

TEAL DEER? MOST FEATHERS ARE ILLEGAL, DON’T BE A DUMBASS.

(you can find my work in these materials here or here)

originally written on: Aug 1, 2012
updated today

the trio, bat taxidermy

taxidermied bats

Three taxidermy bats- two indonesian bats (chemically preserved) and one northwest bat, humanely collected, preserved with salt, disinfectant materials, and time, (completely mummified and sanitary) and mounted on a birch plaque with mouse and vole bones and preserved hawkmoths and cicada shells. All have been sanitized and dried completely, handled with care.

I adore bats. I think they’re amazing, beautiful creatures, and I have been donating to a few projects meant to combat white-nose fungus, which has been killing off bats across the Americas for a while now. It’s really sad because bats keep all insects in check, plus they are ADORABLE.

Ships nestled carefully in protective packaging, to the US only. $200 includes shipping, handling, tracking, and insurance (USPS)

Plaque is approximately 6×15″. Bats are mummified completely, all bones are sealed and odorless.

skulls, bones, dead things, and where they come from.

Originally published on 11/16/2013

raccoon skull mount taxidermyI want to talk a little bit about my materials. Mainly because I read a lot of forums and craft and art blogs, and tend to see the same comments over and over about artists that work with taxidermy or animal remains.

Nature isn’t cruel or kind; it’s just hungry. 

I get a lot of questions about various things I use- mostly about bones and skulls, but a lot of people have asked about other things too- plants, rocks. Usually people are just being dense- “did you kill all those raccoons?” or “who do you have buried in the crawlspace?” or, even better, “ewwww it’s dead!” A lot of people saying this also eat fast food, buy meat at the grocery store, and let their cats roam outdoors…

I work humanely- in a sense. I don’t kill anything to make my art but yes, they are real bones and skulls. I get them from a lot of different sources. Most of the game animal bones and skulls I get from hunters- I have friends who hunt for food, and who will give me remains to work with. Most of the deer, elk, and turkey skulls and bones I use come from these sources. I also get bones from family farms- chicken, pig, and goose or turkey bones, even a few ostrich and cow remains. Most of these animals are also killed for food.

I don’t use anything from factory farms, just farms where the animals are treated well. I know this is enough to upset some people but since I also eat meat I don’t feel bad about it- I WOULD feel awful using factory-farmed items. However if I came across some, or had a source, I might use them; that piece would probably be pretty damned dark though. I tend to work with the feelings the animal’s remains give me, to make a piece that expresses the creature’s life.

I know a lot of artists who work with animal remains are a bit more humorous than I am, or more light-hearted about it in general. I do see the remains as a medium but at the same time I don’t feel good making jokes at the animal’s expense. Very rarely I get a skull or part which is light, and happy- I will sometimes make a brighter piece with those. Usually though animals live difficult lives, and their bones speak to me about this, so I don’t work very light very often.

I get questioned partly I think because of artists that do slaughter animals in the context of their work. While I don’t do this, I don’t find these artists offensive at all, it’s just not my own way of working. I don’t think it’s horrible. I have hunted for food myself, and been present for slaughtering at farms. Again- I don’t think it’s awful if you eat at KFC, either. I just personally don’t.

Some of my pieces come from road strikes. I have been working steadily on a series of photographs and an extended essay about roadside nature and roadkill, about human safety and how highways affect the animals that live near them. As a consequence of this work I have come across a LOT of roadside remains. I did get a license to collect roadkill in several states (not all states need one, but some do) and have spent a great deal of time working with these remains. A lot of these wild animals are obvious survivors of repeated injuries (fractures and old healed injuries in their skeletons attest to this) and the way they interact with the road fascinates me.

skunk skullNo, I have not used anything I myself ran over.

Most of my feathers come from friend’s farms. Almost all of my plant matter comes from my own place- I live on the edge of the Siuslaw, and not only the yard/forest of my house but the clearcuts nearby furnish most of my lichens, moss, and wood. I do a lot of beach collecting too. I live in Oregon, and it is legal to collect many things here, since all beaches are public. I do refrain from collecting in park areas, since those are restricted. I also don’t collect or mess with the remains of pinnipeds, or vertebrate fossils- just invertebrate fossils, collected in nonrestricted areas.

I have a few skulls and things which I have purchased. A few mink, fox, and beaver skulls which I am certain are fur trade castoffs- these items have a very dark feeling to them, and so the pieces built with them reflect that. I also have used vervet monkey skulls- the importation of these was a pain in the neck, and they are killed as a nuisance animal- so they too have a very dark feeling. Like I said, the horrors of life, death, the hard times most animals go through, are the reason my work is not light-hearted and silly. I don’t use anything illegal, and I avoid using items which may violate CITES or the MBA. (More information on the legality of animal remains is available here, if you are interested.)

I don’t work much with animals that are domestic pets, but I occasionally get some materials this way. Usually these are used for commissions for the previous owner. Some of these are more light and happy. I’ve worked with a very battered stray-dog skull, just making that piece was very upsetting. It wasn’t a joke to me.

zpg, anti-breeding artI’ve worked with human bones too. This is where people tend to be most alarmed- although in reality it is easier to buy human bone than many animals! I get most of my human bone specimens from places which sell vintage anatomical displays, or from places such as necromance (among others) which sell oddities. Yes, these bones are legal. No, I didn’t kill anyone to get them. And YES, they are expensive for a reason. Again- most of these works are dark. I don’t get silly feelings from death.

I’ve sold work and done commissions for vegans- for people who are animal and conservation activists. My work is intended to speak about the way people are oblivious to the natural world. Nature is full of drama, death, struggle, and strangeness. I try to use the materials I have to portray that. Reminders of mortality are not for everyone. Horrific art is not for everyone. There are people who cannot sit through a horror movie and people who cannot listen to a description of how their hamburger was made. My work is not for these people, really- although knowing that my work may have given them pause or made them think about these things, about the darker side of life, is kind of the point.

Originally Published on: Apr 19, 2012

serial killer portraits, originals.

Here we go, the full list (so far) of originals and prints for all my serial killer portraits. Click the image to see it bigger- and here’s a link to prints of these, Please go buy one there, as I am no longer producing handmade prints of this series. For originals, which I do have available, please email me. 

I started working on these because I have an inordinate fondness for true crime books, movies. Because I love gory things, horrorful stuff, and always find it fascinating that some people behave this way. (here’s an interview crimelibrary did with me, which explains a bit further.)

I also remember what Richard Chase said- that he didn’t choose his victims, he just tried doors until he found one open- because if it was locked he wasn’t welcome there. I think that sums up a lot of the phenomenon. Serial killers, sociopaths, they exploit our human weaknesses, and yet they don’t see others as human. It’s very interesting to me, the way watching predators on nature shows is interesting to me.

The first set of these I did are cannibal killers- the second set, which I am still working on (and which starts with Gacy, Martha Wise, and Albert Fish) are parental figures who were also serial killers. That set will be pretty big, as a lot of serial killers were parents, and upstanding citizens by their neighbors and friends. I plan to work with images of necrophiles after that, such as Gein, Bundy. That set should actually include Kemper, but I liked his story so much I worked on him already. Click through to see the rest of the collection so far! (more…)

The Horrors!

coloring book, horrorThe Horrors is a frightening collection of cryptids, monsters, and ghosts from around the world, drawn in crisp black ink, ready for you to color! I started collecting ideas for creatures to draw about a year ago, and thanks to a large group of people who enjoy the paranormal and the weird, I had a long list of possible monsters to whittle down!  After finishing ten of the sketches in pen and ink, I decided to expand the horror art into a book. For each of the 30 nightmares, there is a short story explaining their origins and history.

I may be a strong skeptic, but there is something I love about these monsters. Anything horrifying, that goes bump in the night, intrigues me and makes me happy.

There are no franchised TV or movie monsters in this book; only myth, folklore, ghosts, and cryptids that exist outside the universe of fiction.

Check it out, sponsor me and if you can’t sponsor, share the link! People who back the project get the book, colored versions of the art, and more!

Here’s the link to the project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1390602110/the-horrors-coloring-book-of-cryptids-ghosts-and-m

And here are a few of the illustrations included in the book (there are thirty.)

I’ll post a full list of the monsters for backers on the ks site as we get closer to print!

(more…)

“Heiliges Rochus”, canid skull mount with quilling, wings, and gilded frame

grey fox skull with wings
Originally Published on: Mar 19, 2012

St. Roch is the patron saint of dogs.

He is also a preventer of the plague.

he remained behind during the plague to treat people; he himself became ill. he went into the forest to die, but a dog (who is not named in any story) brought him bread and licked his wounds, saving him.

This is made from a grey fox skull, sea urchins, rockdove wings, and quilling done with paper I made myself. the tattered roses are preserved in glycerin and poly so they will stay just as they are. All mounted in a gilded frame.
I’ve got another quilling project in the works, I’ll post some progress shots this week.

(more…)

spring morning.

springmorningfinished this last night.

original is for sale, here: https://squareup.com/market/anji-marth/spring-morning

prints are here: http://www.redbubble.com/people/resonanteye/works/10972960-spring-morning?p=photographic-print

handpainted print with metallic details, here: http://www.zibbet.com/anjimarth/artwork?artworkId=1743053

 

Caveman hands, sheanderthal. Skull mounts and totem art.

taxidermy skull mount with sweetgumHere are some photos of all the things which I just got back from the speakeasy art show.

Some of these will be for sale at MY SKULL AND NATURE SHOP, others are already spoken for, waiting to be picked up.

The hardest thing about selling these (besides the amount of logical work that goes into shipping them) is parting with them. I really feel the creatures, you know? Like each one has a definite personality, to me. So when someone buys them it’s like saying goodbye to a friend.

At least awesome people buy them. That makes it a lot easier.

Click through to see more photos.

These were, until now, on display at the Oak Street Speakeasy in Eugene, Oregon. I have had three waves of art showed there over the past year, along with Jameson’s, the Horsehead, and Unfine art museum. These are my favorite places to hang my work- the crowds that go there all seem to like it, and I get good feedback from the folks in these places.

Plus, the speakeasy is where every good death metal and sludge doom band plays, here in town. So of course I like hanging my skulls there.

(more…)

grey fox, antler, and roses

grey fox skullwhat I ended up working with today. I’ll post the sasquatch tomorrow- he isn’t done yet.

sketching out and beginning a skull mount.

sketching it out, deciding what materials to include.

laying out the structure

a few pictures of the process.

« Newer -- Older »

This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work!

Please upgrade today!