440 Gallery | Brooklyn NY

Shop talk, answers to your FAQs, and a peek behind the scenes of an artist-run fine art gallery in Park Slope

Making Art from Bones – Leslie Green Guilbault, Small Works Show 2012 artist

So many people have asked about the three pieces of art formed from animal bones in our current Small Works Show, we asked Leslie Green Guillbault to share some information about these pieces. Here is what she says…

I find that people are often interested in the “how” and “why” of my work, and I’m happy to share what was on my mind while I made these pieces.

LLG bone gun 2

Bone Gun
A jawbone complete with teeth is a captivating image.  The natural shape of this deer jawbone is reminiscent of a gun, so my first task was to carve details into the “handle.”  When I moved to the area above the teeth, I discovered that the bone could be hollowed out from tip to end by carefully hand-filing the inside of each horseshoe cut to create a “barrel.”  I hand burnished the piece with fine grit sandpaper which lends a mellowed yellow patina to the surface.

LLG 2 pelvis bones

½ Pelvis (deer) – top
I enjoy amending the natural curves of bone and adding new holes, craters, and cuts to make viewers wonder which details are original vs. modified.  The feather motif is a recurring theme in my carvings, but instead of having all of the feathers follow the typical growing direction (away from the center of the piece), I carved some of the patterns in reverse, as if the feathers were attached to the ends of the design and are growing inward.  I like to have fun with my carvings.
½ Pelvis (deer) – bottom
After two hours of carving this piece, I accidentally pierced the smooth surface layer of bone which revealed the darker, porous interior.  I was highly annoyed by this, as my original design did not include this dark, rough textured surface.  But when I held the piece up to the sky, which is a typical move while I’m carving, as it helps me to see the piece in a different light—literally, I was pleasantly surprised to see light pouring through the thin spots in the piece.  A whole new world of design possibilities opened up to me at this point, and now I incorporate designs that show off the porous interior of the bones in some of my work.  FYI:  I see a Norse dragon shape when I hold this finished piece up to the light, but maybe that’s just me.

Some images of process:

Jaw bones

Jaw bones


The artist in protective gear

Using a Dremel tool

Using a Dremel tool

Take a look at Leslie’s pieces in our Small Works Show: Bone Gun, and Pelvis Parts 1 and 2.  [These photos are on our Facebook page, please “Like” us to stay up to date.]


This entry was posted on December 18, 2012 by in From our studios and tagged , , , , , .

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