HAND CARVED AMERICAN SKULLS
The most compelling artwork for us is the artwork of the people who work the land, fish the seas, and fell the trees -- working class art. The medium of classic folk art has always been the material remaining at the end of the day's work. Cattle and bison have been a historic presence in the labor of the West, as whales were along the eastern seaboard.
We take inspiration from historic Native American and American folk art, especially whaling scrimshaw, Inuit bone carvings, and Spanish colonial saddle leatherwork. Following the tradition of Inuit bow drilling, we cover the entire surface of our skulls with thousands of individually hand carved circles. The banding patterns we create on our horns were inspired by a mid-eighteenth century Hopi Katsina doll.
Rather than a blank canvas to be covered over, each skull becomes a collaborator. Our designs depend on the individual bone's thickness, ivory color, accentuated ridges and contours, and nose bridge. It's more interesting to accept the limitations of the material than to force it to conform to any artificial concept.
We seal the carvings with a cellulose lacquer, the same finish used on musical instruments. The skulls are then either washed with India ink to embolden the carving or left in their natural color.