Sunday, January 10, 2010


This miniature skeleton is hand-carved from real bone. Sadly it's not human bone; just a cow bone, but still! Something about a tiny skeleton made out of real bone thrills me.

These pictures don't do it justice either. Up close you can see little carved-in cracks and details just like in a real skeleton. I especially love the head. The person who carved it went above and beyond the call of duty. The jaw is all hollowed out just like a real one. Who even looks under there? I guess I did.
The skull is balanced on a tiny fragile neck. Look at all the ribs and the undercut shoulder blades.
It's a blurry picture but you can see under his jaw the neck bone segments are carved.
He's even carved out inside his rib cage.
The carver went ahead and carved toe segments on the bottom side as well.
He's just over 2" tall. Imagine how frustrating it would have been to get him nearly finished and then break him. Fortunately he made it.
Even though China makes some low quality merchandise they also make some of the highest quality hand work in the whole world. We'll never know it though because our market doesn't want to pay any more than is absolutely necessary.

At my job there's a lot of 'MADE IN CHINA' bashing coming from the factory workers. I'm as happy and as proud as anyone when I see MADE IN USA on something, but I don't think I've seen that in years. It's not China's fault when we go to them and say "We want you to make this for us, and we don't want to pay you a lot of money for it, so do what you can do."

If we went to China and said "Make me a nice shirt and here's $4 instead of $.50" it would probably be a pretty good shirt.

My in-laws live in China and when we visit them they always ask us to bring them something that says MADE IN USA. That's a big-time status symbol for them if they have an American-made item to show to their friends. It's also a big-time frustrating task because I can spend months going to every store I can think of, and I never find a single thing. Once I found a purse that was made here, and the price was $800 so I put it back on the rack and pretended I couldn't find anything. I'm guilty of doing exactly the same thing I just got done talking about.


  1. KW: Regarding "Made in China" bashing; you really can't bitch if someone kicks your ass at your own game. Just say "Job well done" and suck it up, Nancy. Do better in the next round (which my beloved USA ain't doing as of yet). Anyway, how in the hell did the artist carve that? With what tools? Amazing! As you say, to damn bad it isn't human bone, but then that might open up a whole 'nother can of worms about its horrible origins that would in all likelihood not be even close to PC.-- Mykal

  2. About the only thing we make well anymore is big, fat, greasy, carb-busting McRatalds quarter-pounders ("super-size that for you sir?").
    Well, Keith, at least YOU make beautiful works of art with your cartoons and drawings! Harumphh!
    Oh, yeah, that Skeleton is really cool; reminds me of a skeleton from an earyl b&w animated cartoon.

  3. Mykal and R/E
    Thanks for the comments! I wonder if the guy used dental tools to carve that skeleton. The carver guy probably has really small fingers too.

    Hey, that's right! the only thing we still make here is restaurant food. Maybe that's what I can bring to my In-laws next time.

  4. Corporations that demand the highest possible profits
    Consumers who demand the lowest possible prices
    Products made by cheap overseas labor.

    It's a pretty simple equation. If your coworkers only want goods that are made in America, then they should prepare themselves for $100 shirts and $10,000 television sets.

  5. nice post! that carving is absolutely amazing. i read an article in the New Yorker a couple of months ago about how artists in china are painting masterpieces for very very cheap. Like $100 gets you a beautiful oil painting of any scene you want. it was very interesting as is this post. i can't think of the last thing i bought or saw that was made in america. i did recently see a commercial for a KIA car that now has a plant in the US, which seems odd to me...

  6. It's true, they work practically for free by our standards. $100 even sounds high. They sold me a 6 foot tall scroll with a hand painted tiger as big as me, and it was $20. As dumb as it sounds, I remember at the time thinking "I don't know. Twenty bucks is a lot."

  7. I have a collection, about 15, of these skeleton bone carvings. They're in all different poses. I buy them in New York when I visit. They're really quite nice. I believe they're made in New Mexico.

    Where did you pick up this one? Do they have any more?

    Thank you in advance.

  8. I got this here in my city at a rock and gem show. I was told they got these in China. There were 2 more. One was bigger, and one was smaller. I wanted the smaller one too but didn't have the cash.


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