Artist, Maker, Nature Lover.
All natural supplies are ethically and sustainably sourced (Nothing has been killed for the purpose of making art) and naturally processed (Chemicals used for processing and cleaning are all eco-friendly). The majority of bones used are found in Michigan by hiking. If you understand an animals habits you can easily find their garbage. When you're anywhere in Michigan you are always 30 minuets from a nature park, so there are plenty of places to go bone hunting. Some bones come from homesteaders or people who live off the land (subsistence living), who raise their own livestock and/or hunt and utilize and appreciate the entire animal so nothing goes to waste.
I use my art as a way to open up a conversation about conservation, ecology and recycling with people, especially children. We are custodians of this earth and should act accordingly.
What does 'Ethically Sourced' mean?
The term 'Ethical' is very subjective and will vary from person to person. These are my personal thoughts as to what 'ethically sourced' means.
Not killed for the purpose of art.
I commonly use the 'leftovers' from homesteaders and hunters for art supplies. These animals were either legally hunted or raised as food for private use. These people want to ensure the whole animal is used and nothing goes to waste.
Hunting is conservation. Culling a species is regulated by each states DNR (department of Natural Resources) in which population counts of specified areas dictate how many licenses will be issued, for which type of species, type of weapon that can be used and only during a designated time period. Controlled hunting prevents overpopulation, disease, incest, violence within the herd, starvation and unbalancing the ecosystem for other animals.
Frozen feeder mice, rats and rabbits are sold at reptile shops as reptile food (I do not find feeding reptiles live food to be ethical). While alive they are well cared for, when it is time for them to become food they are either placed in a chamber where CO2 replaces the Oxygen causing them to fall asleep and die or their necks are broken causing instant death.
Reptile breeders, mammal breeders, small farms, wildlife rehabbers, veterinarians and small butchers can offer an abundance of 'leftovers' or 'byproducts' as supplies.
I find using roadkill very respectful to the animal. Instead of them being forgotten and run over repeatedly until there's nothing left, their remains are rescued and turned into something that can be loved. Roadkill attracts other animals and puts them in potential danger of becoming roadkill too. When picking up roadkill you need to pull a Salvage License from the state (varies from state to state), this way they have record of the animal for population counts and other ecology studies. A copy of this paperwork should always accompany the taxidermy and a copy kept with the taxidermist.
The Octopus are I use are sourced from a local reputable fish monger. These are the old octopus they are unable to sell and would otherwise be thrown in the trash. By getting the unsellable ones it does not encourage the fish monger to order more and is a way to honor the animal.
"The art I make is just a less common form of recycling or up cycling."
I was raised as a conservationist, hunter and herbalist. I spent the majority of my childhood in the woods and at nature camps. My mother would commonly find me playing in the creek next to the house in my bright colored sundress, which had pockets that fit frogs nicely!. When I became old enough I started teaching all the amazing things I had learned over the years at the same summer camps I had attended. I now own a storefront, Twisted Things in Historic Downtown Ypsilanti MI, that caters to artists that are nature inspired, unusual or might be considered too weird for a standard gift shop.
I am a florist, taxidermist, jeweler and all around maker of things. I have been selling my art since 2013.
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