Taxidermy art has always had an old-fashioned and sometimes an other era feeling about it, however, Julie Culler, local designer of VinylBones, revamps the entire art form with simple designs made from fox jaws, mink skulls and coyote fangs.
303 Magazine: What inspires the designs of Vinyl Bones and how did it all start?
Julie Culler: Color blocking, I mean love the ’60s. I love rock and roll. I love garage rock. I love psych rock. I love music. I love fashion honestly. I like weird shit — it’s true. I was in Texas at the Austin Psych Fest and one of my friends had a booth there. This was all back in 2013. There was this one vendor who sold oddities. Like stuff made out hair. She gave me a necklace that had a real turtle’s foot on it. That’s what stemmed the idea of using taxidermy. VinylBones however, started about two years ago.
303: How do you get all the animal parts?
JC: I hail from southern New Mexico. Particularly Las Cruses. I used to go out in the desert to find the bones myself. There were a lot of foxes, so in return a lot of bones. The first pieces I made were always from fox bones, like the fox jaw earrings. However, being in Denver now I just go through a bone guy from Illinois. They already come clean. All I have to do is prime and prep them.
303: What animals do you use the most and are there any you want to work with in the future?
JC: Mink and muskrat. They’re small animals — all my designs are made from small animals. I wouldn’t go out to look for animals. To do that I would actually have to kill them. There’s nothing, in particular, I want to work with. The bones I use are accessible.
303: How do you respond to animal lovers and people who say that you shouldn’t use animals in your product?
JC: Well I am an animal lover. I’m not a murderer. Nobody is killing these animals. They’re already found.
303: When did you start incorporating vinyl into your craft?
JC: I’m a record collector. I kind of always used vinyl. They were smaller pieces though. I used to make just the record cuffs. I don’t know if vinyl or bone came first. I didn’t start making the pieces with the intentions to sell them. I made things that I wanted to wear and gradually people started finding its appeal. That’s where custom designs came in. When I first started to work with the material I wanted to paint them, but I actually like seeing the tracks on the records more.
303: How far do you want to grow VinylBones?
JC: Well I prefer using the markets — it’s a lot more fun. The Punk Rock Flea Markets was great — the Scene was my scene. I participated in El Paso and also, in Denver multiple times. They did an oddity show particularly. It was right around Halloween. There was a lot of people selling similar items. There was some weird stuff. People make some really cool things it blows my mind.
303: For people who assume wearing bones and melted plastic can’t be chic or stylish your designs have proven otherwise. What kind of woman or man is the go-to customer for Vinyl Bones?
JC: Well everyone has their own interests. You know, don’t judge a book by its cover. Everyone likes what they like just like I make what I like. I mean as an artist of any sort or any genre — not just dead animals. I feel like you take inspiration from a lot of different places. You take what you like personally and apply it to you.
All Photography by Kacie Loura