Where do you find your parts?
I find things anywhere that I find myself…in obscure junk shops, flea markets, attics, taxidermy supply houses, specialty hardware distributors…or even just walking through the woods.
Some of the materials used in my work are: antique ceremonial collar, antlers, bone, velvet, antique hardware, glass eyes, universal joints, springs, brass standoffs, casters, mink collars, saxophone keys, antique shoehorn, beads, lamp fittings, glove leather, music wire, cast pewter feet…
With the exception of replicas and common domestic species (eg. chickens) animal bones are acquired from licensed distributors, the sort of company that a natural history museum might work with if they were putting together an exhibit. I have a strong affinity for animals and take care to deal only with reputable companies, whose specimens are legally and ethically obtained.
Are they real bones?
Some are, some aren’t. I will continue to make it as difficult as possible to tell the difference.
How big are they?
They range in size from about one inch tall to nearly six feet high.
How do you come up with the names?
I collect names, much as I do all of my other materials. I’m always looking, finding, sorting, choosing…
How are they put together?
The many components are assembled using as many techniques as there are parts. The fastenings for a crest of feathers are quite different than for a headpiece of brass on bone. In my work, I look back to a time when one’s craft was evolved over many years, honed through apprenticeships. The parts are integrated with the finely wrought craft of an artisan watchmaker.
Miniature machine bolts, springs and couplings comprise anatomical structures. Many of the beasts have hidden movements: a spring loaded beak, snapping jaws, jointed legs and adjustable tails. Some creatures are free-standing but have mechanisms to allow for movement or multiple positions.
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.
What/who are some of your influences?
PT Barnum, Guiseppe Arcimbaldo, Animal anatomy & Osteology, Albertus Seba, Lee Bontecou, Walton Ford, Decorative and applied arts, Matthew Barney, McMaster Carr, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Frederik Ruysch, 16th-18th century Curiosity Cabinets, Natural History Museums