See my raccoon skull? It was in two pieces -- easy to paint yellow and orange.
See my raccoon skull? It was in two pieces — easy to paint yellow and orange.
I love dead animals. I mean, I like LIVING animals more, but bones and teeth and taxidermied things are my favorite type of decorative detritus.

So let’s look at bones in the home. I understand if this icks you out. There’s only a little shame in that.

If you’re GOING to keep bones in the house, make sure they’re clean — any gristle can attract bugs and cause a stink. If you’re going to keep bones in the house and want to use them more subtly, they take well to spray paint! My method is this:

  • Find bones on forest floor. Bring home.
  • Soak in warm soapy water for a few minutes, then scrub with an old tooth brush.
  • When dry, prime with one even coat of primer. I like all things Rustoleum.
  • Let dry (less than one hour OR more than 24) and apply thin coats of a brightly colored paint, turning the bones as needed.

You can also clean, then allow to bleach in the sun for picture-perfect white bones.

Source: via Offbeat Home on Pinterest
Source: via Offbeat Home on Pinterest

Take care, though, if you do this: older bones may already be decalcified, and laying them in the sun will make them more brittle. I’d recommend using a flat white or even beige to preserve structural integrity in weathered bones.

Source: via Rachelle on Pinterest
Source: via Rachelle on Pinterest

And these are the perfect things to fill up odds-and-ends cabinets and printer’s drawers.

Source: via Aimee on Pinterest
Source: via Aimee on Pinterest

You might also just look for the weirder bones, and let them stand on their own. This is my prized whale vertebrae, bought by accident at an auction 25 years ago.

Sucka is HUGE!

Still icked? Get the look another way, like these Spine Candle Holder:
Spine Candle Holder

100% resin, no bones about it (HA!)

Favorite bone-related decor? Is this just too gross? Why? Do tell!

Comments on Antlers, bones, and dead things as decor

  1. I’m a day late commenting (this shut-in spent the day outdoors yesterday), but my dead things collection includes a mystery skull, a dehydrated juvenile sturgeon, and dehydrated, shellacked owl vomit containing several rodent skeletons.
    I have mine mounted using fishing line and straight pins to heavy black cardstock, but I had to keep them in storage, and now a curio cabinet thats too deep to really see them, because when I had cats they wouldn’t leave the rodents and fish alone, and now I have a toddler who’d love to ruin all of the cool things.

  2. Oh I *LOVE* this! We have got some mis-matched antlers on our “junkshop” shelf, some kind of skull mounted that was a gift off a friend (It has the jaw bones incorporated into the mount, hidden in the back) and I’ve just bought My other half a preserved Bat Skeleton for his birthday. I have also recently become obsessed with taxidermy, especially of the smaller creatures.

  3. I have a deer jawbone that I got from a Mammology prof. in college. It was already labeled with a number 6 (out of the 20-something the department was getting rid of). He now goes by the name “Jiminy 6” and sits on top of my desk surrounded by toy figurines.

  4. One of my best friends in junior high once brought me a boar skull he found cleaning out an old man’s basement. (How did THAT get in there?) It’s on a pike in the middle of my woods, a la “Lord of the Flies”.

  5. I just brought home a bag of bones for Halloween decor that I found in the woods. They have a great greenish patina so I don’t want to bleach or boil them. Can I put them in the oven to kill any little critters or bacteria?

    • Bones get brittle when they’re cooked, so you may not want to do that. Maybe put ’em in the freezer? You might have to leave them in there a while though, to make sure anything icky is killed off.

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