Are these real bones?
It depends on the piece. Some of the bones are real, some are not. For all protected and endangered species, I create replicas. For the sculptures that incorporate real animal bones, I work with licensed osteological suppliers. I have a strong affinity for animals and take care to deal only with reputable companies, whose specimens are legally and ethically obtained.
What other sorts of materials do you use? How are these made?
I typically work with found objects, but most of them are modified quite a bit from their original form. Antique chandeliers are dissected and reconfigured into anatomical forms. Candy dishes are fashioned into rib-cages. Silver forks are cut, bent, and bolted back together to form articulated monkey toes. The spout of a teapot becomes a fish’s tail. A skull from a cat might be altered to resemble a monkey, or a chicken might be given a new beak to resemble an exotic bird.
Where do you get your materials?
For osteological specimens, I recommend this company: https://www.skullsunlimited.
For all other elements, I find them everywhere! I am always searching for interesting objects at flea markets, on ebay, or at dozens of specialty hardware suppliers. I use everything from antique lamps and textiles, to unusual period cutlery, to parasol parts and brass bullet casings. There isn’t any single source.
How are they constructed? Are they welded or soldered?
None of my work is welded or soldered. I often integrate several different types of metal, such as brass, steel, silver and copper, so those techniques wouldn’t be effective. Also, I always prefer to preserve the original patinas on antique metal. Typically I use mechanical fastenings: miniature machine bolts, universal joints, or couplings.
What size are your sculptures?
They range in size from about one inch tall to nearly six feet high.
What is your background? Are you trained in the sciences?
My academic background is in the visual arts. Regarding the study of animal anatomy, I am purely an intrigued autodidact.
How can I find out about upcoming shows in my area?
You can sign up for my mailing list here.
The creatures that populate Jessica Joslin’s world are intricate fusions of bone, brass, antique hardware and other scavenged treasures. Infused with the Victorian era’s passion for natural history and arcane technology, these creatures reflect both the real and the imagined animal, the living and the dead. Through careful observation and intricate construction, they re-imagine the animal kingdom, bolt by bolt, beast by beast. They are a nod to the Wunderkammer of yore, and the Victorian predilection for invention and exploring science through the collecting of naturalia. The precision of the engineering conveys a sense that these beasts are anatomically plausible, and the spark of life is simulated through limpid glass eyes, engaging the viewer silently and directly.
Inspired by the beauty of skeletal architecture, and a passion for assemblage sculpture, Jessica Joslin began building her bestiary of mechanical animals in 1992. Her collection of creatures includes a myriad of different species and hybrids, and numbers over 200 sculptures in total. With a extensive background in the professional trades, Joslin honed her fabrication skills building toy prototypes, architectural models, trade show displays, photo props, and film sets. Her monograph, “Strange Nature” was published in 2008, and her work has been featured in numerous books, magazines and exhibitions worldwide.
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