Old Bones


One day, while adventuring through a little wooded area, the kid and I ran across some old bones.  Myla is a girl who is instantly fascinated by unusual things (a girl after my own heart), but thankfully, these bones were old and dried up and had been there quite a long, long time.  She asked me what it used to be, and I asked her what she though it looked like.  “A dinosaur,”  she said.  “Or a goat.”  So we looked a little more closely, and noticed hooves and places where horns once were.  Having seen a lot of dinosaur shows, she remembered that flat teeth usually meant plant eater.

“We could take these home and make a project with them!” she said.

Whoah there.  Ew.  While quaint little odd things fascinate me, I am not one who is interested at ALL in the performing the process of taxidermy on bodypart-things.  The idea of taking these bones home was not something that appealed to me in the slightest.  “But wouldn’t it be quite gross?” I asked, to which she replied that the bones were almost like rocks now, and they weren’t disgusting at all.  Knowing our daughter can be quite sensitive (and to avoid potential heartbreak later), I asked, “Would you feel like it’s maybe sad at all?  To have the bones around of something that died?”

And our 4-year old daughter, being quite sweet and thoughtful, said, “Well, yes.  It IS a little sad, mama.  But we can take them and make them into something beautiful.  And then it won’t be so sad anymore.”

And boom–I was sold.

Now don’t ask me about the intricacies of dealing with mushy, fresh fleshy bones–ours weren’t that, or I would’ve left them in that wooded area without a second thought.  Scouring the internet, I found way more disgusting things on how to handle that subject matter than I care to recall.  Thankfully, these bones (as I say) were EXTREMELY dry, and therefore the easiest to sterilize.  I soaked them in hydrogen peroxide for about three days, flipping them each day, and let them dry for another day, just so we didn’t have any random goo-cooties crawling all over us.

Markers were the medium that Myla chose.  I suggested paint, but she said “they take too long to dry.”  So markers it was.  I got out the permanent markers, and we started doodling.

We traded back and forth.  She was so excited that each time I picked up a piece to doodle on, she was instantly interested in it as well.  So in the spirit of sharing, we took turns, swapping pieces, and decorating the bones.810

She turned this vertebrae into a “little creature” who can conviently hold a marker.

3And she gave this jawbone the most adorable face (with “hair made out of teeth,” she said).

4We doodled on the skull with shapes, colors and patterns…


7Until they were all nice and strange and lovely old bones.


After awhile, she said she wanted to “make it prettier” by putting flowers in all the places she could fit them.  (For all you folks that know art supplies, don’t worry–that’s a way older, nearly dried-out primary chisel tip blue marker, not one of my fancy new brush ones…)



So there you go.  Something sad and dead into something lovely.  And the best part was watching her work.  And not that I particularly love old bones lying around, but I may have to varnish these and keep them around somewhere inside.   Maybe mounted.  But up high, maybe….so the dogs will stop sniffing at them.

16 responses

  1. They look like deer bones. We live in the woods and our yard is the meadow…but we haven’t found any bones lying around…not that I go that far into the woods.

    1. Thanks, Joy! I thought deer bones, too. Maybe a baby one? It had horns that apparently had been sawed off. Haven’t ruled out dinosaur bones, though. 😉

      1. My Grandpa’s got a ranch, and I’ve been collecting ALL kinds of bones since very young! If you guys are in Texas that’s probably a white-tailed deer. It’s a male, since only males grow antlers, and a fun-fact: every year male deer lose their antlers and grow new ones. This old boy’s antlers probably fell off before he died.
        My own love of dinosaur bones led me to collecting bones, then fossils!
        Great post as always!

      2. That’s awesome! There are a lot of deer in this area, so I figured that’s what it was. It was pretty tiny, though..didn’t seem big enough to be an adult, but it had horns once. Still, it looked like someone sawed off the antlers. Cool stuff! Thanks!

  2. “Ew”? And this from a woman who, I seem to remember, likes to paint on dead insects. 😉
    Nice project. 😀

    1. Haha! I know, right? I guess I do have a line somewhere! 🙂

  3. She is wise beyond her years. And you are awesome for going along with her idea!

  4. With these pictures I can’t help but feel that both Frieda & Georgia O’Keeffe would be quite happy!

  5. This is great! My 4 year old and i have been painting on found bones for the past few weeks. I’m loving the synchronicity!! Our house is slowly filling with pretty dead things 🙂

  6. I love it how you made something that could potentially be morbid into something beautiful. You’re daughter sounds like a sweet intelligent girl too!

  7. Yeah, looks like deer bones to me too. Weird about the sawed-off antlers, but maybe a collector took the horns and left the skull. I’ve been dealing with lots of old bones through my own collecting tendencies as well as one of my boys. We went together to a scientific class on bone cleaning for just these sorts of things, and while I’ve found I have my limits on what I’m willing to do (“Mom!! There’s a dead raccoon by the side of the road! Let’s collect it and clean the bones and assemble it!!” Um, no) I’ve developed a real appreciation for the beauty of bare bones. What you’ve both created together is wonderful. 🙂

  8. Love these old bones. Myla has such an imagination ! I have a Kickstarter question. I pledged, but don’t know what happens next. Is it just basically my promise to buy the book? When you have a minute … Sharon Homrig

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Well thank you so much! Yes, now that we’ve met our goal, we are assured the printing, so once they are ready you will get the book and now the animal book, too! There will be an option to give your address when it’s time. Thank you!

  9. I so enjoyed reading your Post, beautifully written. And lovely work from both of you!

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