Staff Writer: Savannah Phillips, Triangle Features Editor
First year marketing major Hailey Brumett has a backyard full of bones at her family’s house in Pageland, South Carolina. Why? She makes animal bones into jewelry and is beginning to dabble in taxidermy.
Hobbies can develop in many different ways, and Brumett’s did gradually. From the time she was little, Brumett enjoyed watching the tv show Bones– but that’s not all… She would often collect bugs and other nature items, and was intrigued by the stray bones her dog would bring up in the yard.
Though her family was not taken aback by Brumett’s new hobby that emerged in September of 2021, she never can tell how outsiders of the Vulture Culture will react. “AWW that’s really cool and some people are just like ‘huh?’ and they’re confused,” Brumett said smiling.
Brumett is desensitized to the process itself, which is listed below for further curiosity, but she finds it hard to skin the animals, remembering them full of life. “A big thing for me is not wasting anything,” she stressed. Brumett emphasized the importance of giving back to the earth.
With each animal she finds, Brumett allows it to decompose naturally outside, letting the nutrients sink back into the soil. Coming back to collect the bones for jewelry making, Brumett cleans them as part of the process. For fresher finds, she skins them and uses the fur productively, and even eats the meat when safe.
Always on the lookout for material, Brumett noted the ideal time to find remains. During the colder seasons, it is easier to spot bones under dead bushes with nothing to hide the remains. As springtime approaches, the peak reproduction season is in full swing, leaving many fresher remains to be found after young animals appear. “It’s the cycle of life,” Brumett said.
Though Brumett doesn’t want this hobby to become her lifelong career endeavor, she sees herself doing it years from now. Already getting an insight into the marketing field, Brumett has her own Esty website called “BoneyTrinkets,” where she has been selling her jewelry creations from anywhere between $10- $20 since September of 2021.
As for her status on her hobby now that she is at Wingate, it continues here! Brumett recalled that she found a “squirrel skull and bones in front of the Neu building underneath a bush,” and that it was the “weirdest place” she had ever found remains. Brumett caught a glimpse of the vertebrate and proceeded to take it with her to her dorm in Northeast.
Working from behind a desk in her room, Burmett is determined to prove that there is indeed, life after death, making the most of what is meant to be forgotten.
Steps by: Hailey Brumett
★ Please remember to treat the animal with respect during all of these processes and remember that ethics and morals are a major part of the vulture culture community.
★ The process of cleaning bones for jewelry, articulation, or a personal collection is a lengthy but rewarding process.
1. The first step is either letting the body decompose naturally or skinning, gutting, etc. to get the bones.
● If you choose the second option, please use as much of the body as you can: fur for gloves, taxidermy, etc. and meat for food or nutrients for the earth.
2. After you have your bones, place them into a covered container of plain water and let them sit outside until all “gunk” has been removed.
● Change your water when it looks like nothing else is happening, but leave some of the old water to continue the maceration.
● Heat speeds up the process of maceration which is why you would leave them outside. If it is too cold, you can use a heating pad or set up a
● Too much heat can make the bones brittle so please do not boil them or combine processes. The process of maceration can take a while, so you must be patient.
3. After there is no evidence of further processing in maceration, you will want to move on to degreasing. Depending on the animal bones you are processing (size, type, etc.) you can use water and dawn dish soap or ammonia. The steps of degreasing are pretty similar to maceration.
● Degrease the bones until all grease has been pulled from the bones and do water changes when the water becomes very cloudy. This step can take a while as well, however it usually doesn’t take as long as
4. Once all grease has been pulled out and the bones are clean of gunk and smells you can move on to whitening.
● The best method of whitening is soaking the bones in a 1:1 ratio of hydrogen peroxide and water. This step length usually depends on
personal preference, however, do not leave the bones for too long or they will become flaky and brittle.
● A smaller animal may only need a few hours while a larger animal may take a day or so.
● Keep a close eye on your bones during this step.
5. Once your bones are whitened to your liking, you can continue to make jewelry, articulate, or pop them onto your collection shelf!