The interview with Ali of BURNISH + BONE Osteological Taphonomy follows the article in which i talked a little about creating her custom letterpress business cards. I promised then i would be back with inside info directly from the crafter herself. Luckily she accepted to share her story and details regarding the not so common activity she does.
BURNISH + BONE is all about cleaning and preserving animal bones, skulls, claws, tusks, teeth and horns for hunters, pet owners, collectors and enthusiasts. This is something that would catch anyone’s attention, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg! Ali’s interview will reveal a bunch of interesting details about this activity, so without further ado, please enjoy the read!
1. Tell us something about yourself as a person and also as an artist and a crafter.
I love a good story, especially a good mystery. I think that’s why I like bones — they leave so much to the imagination, you can’t help but create stories around them. Likewise, artifacts of the past invariably teach us about our history, but also our present, and maybe our future. Preserving those moments and stories and learnings to share with other people so that they may feel and learn in their own ways is what really motivates me as an artist and craftsperson.
2. How did you start your business and how did you choose to create the particular items that you make? How did you first get interested in this field?
My business started as hobby that I learned for myself as a young person. When I was a teenager, my grandfather gave me a bear skull from a hunting expedition of his. I was delighted! However, after some time, I noticed it started to discolour and decay. I was desperate to preserve the thing, and so I taught myself how. Long story short, I fell in love with the process and kept doing it more and more. I guess I found a bit of niche market of people who dig it as much as I do.
3. Can you share a little inside info on the actual process of getting the skulls and bones to a finished sellable product? Basically the short version of the journey they go through from the time they get to you and until they leave your studio.
This usually depends on the state that I receive the specimen. If it is still fleshy, it lives outside for a while in a special box to let nature’s little critters clean it up as much as possible for me. This can sometimes take three months given the “freshness” of the skull. Once I think it’s had enough, I bring it in for a lot of soaking in different solutions of environmentally-friendly agents to degrease the bone from the inside out. Once the skull is nearly transparent, I leave it to dry in the sun for a period of time to whiten. Then I start detailing it; gluing the teeth back in, etc. As well as applying several protective finishes to the final product to give it a nice lustre and to protect it from water damage. No paint, no bleach, no varnish. Ick.
4. What would you say are the main aspects that characterize your work?
Water. Soap. and Glue. My studio always has this funky, sweaty, fresh laundry smell.
5. As an artist, crafter and seller, what were the biggest struggles you had to deal with in the past, but also at present?
The traditions we hold for the dead are very firmly sequestered in people’s minds, and getting people to open up to new perspectives of memorializing the deceased are challenging in their delicate and emotional nature.
6. What is the accomplishment you’re most proud of regarding your work?
Simply providing people with a new way to share and remember their stories and memories, and allowing them to proudly display the remains of their fallen animal brothers, rather than stowing them away in a dusty urn is a reward. For me, it’s like giving breath to the dead.
7. What are your plans for the future of your business?
I would like to have more retail stock for collectors to balance my commission-based work.
8. What did you purchase from Funky Box Studio and / or Funky Print Studio?
I received some beautiful custom letterpress business cards.
9. How did you come by FBS / FPS? (recommendation, google search, etsy etc.)
I saw them on Etsy and thought, “Romania? Cool!”
10. Please tell us your general opinion on the purchased items.
So so so impressed. Really, they are precisely what I wanted. Service, quality… everything, five stars. Top notch.
11. Also, what did you think of your interaction with FBS / FPS from a customer service point of view?
Communicating with Andreea was like talking with my best friend. I could tell she was genuinely concerned about the outcome of my business cards, and wanted to make sure I was 100% happy. And she did :) I am 120% happy!
Check out further details on Ali’s website.
The Funky Studio team wishes you, as always, a colorful day!