29 Mar 2012

Little bones for basing

At the moment I'm preparing another base with natural bones, so I thought I might as well tell you how to deal with them in our hobby.

But first few informations:
1. No animals were killed to obtain these bones, well they were killed and eaten, but not by me and not for the purpose of collecting base accessories. Pure cruel nature.
2. Some people may feel disgusted by the process of acquisition of the bones... I must say I don't understand that, but... well... If you feel you might have weak stomach or feel sick for trivial reasons, don't read this article, find another way to make your bases look awesome:D

Where to fing such a tiny bones (the gross part begins:P):
As you probably know, owls have very weak stomach acid, and are unable to digest bones and fur (and  they swallow their prey whole or in small pieces) , so they vomit it after a while. Ornithologists call that vomit pellet.
There are other animals that do that (for example cats, hawks, eagles and other raptors), but the owl's, in particullar Barn owl's, pellets have the bones in the best condition (weakest stomach acid).
The important thing here to remember is: it's vomit not a poop, it comes out the front end not the rear!!

You can buy natural pellets on ebay, sometimes with bone charts, as children are using them sometimes at school at biology classes to reconstruct bone structure of little mammals.
There are also artificial pellets avaliable, but I have no idea how the bones look like in them.

What can we find in a pellet:As I said earlier pellets are masses of bone, teeth, hair, feathers and exoskeletons of various animals.
Here are types of the bones you can find there.
Of course it vary in every pellet. This is 100% natural thing and all depends what the owl eaten that day.
But normally you can find: Skulls, jaws, parts of the spine, ribs, tibias, and other long bones.

That's the picture of the bones I got from my 6 pellets. It will probably be enough bones for my entire hobby life.

How to dissect a pellet:
1.Use latex gloves, and a dust mask. Ideally, you should have obtained your pellets from a reputable dealer, who will ensure that these pellets can't transmit rodent-borne disease (there is a note on ebay auctions if the pellet was sterilised).

2. Begin to pull apart your pellets with your hands, slowly and carefully. This tiny pellet is filled with small, fragile bones that you'll want to preserve. If the pellet proves to be too hard, you may soak the pellet in water to soften it. That creates a muddy mixture of bones, fur and other things. I personally prefer to deal with the dry pellets than wet, but it's entirelly up to you.

3.Separate the mess of fur, feathers, and bones with tweezers. As you break the pellet into smaller and smaller pieces, you can soak your pellets in water to remove the fur and feathers from the bones. Place the bones gently to one side, in a clean container or on paper towels.

4. Clean the bones thoroughly and just to be sure put into a cleaning/disinfectant liquid for a day or two.

5. Dry the bones and store them in a container, making sure they are out of reach of children and pets, you know.
.. just in case.

At the picture below you can see the bones in comparison with 28mm miniature (Hasslefree Akanke).
They would look great as a monster's bones in this scale, and skulls can be used for example as a dragon's remains. With bigger miniatures we can use them (the bones) as parts of human's skeletons.

How to glue and paint the bones:

If I remember correctly I was using PVA glue, but I believe they should survive contact with super glue without problems. In fact I just tested it on a very thin bone, and there are no signs of dissolving.

Paint them as anything else on your base, use primer at the beginning and then paint normally. You can stop licking your brushes for a while when painting bones, it's an animal's remains after all, even if sterilised.
Just be careful when picking them up with your tweezer, they're fragile and can be crushed easily.
And of course wash your hands after touching them, just in case.

And at the end, here are examples, where I used the bones on my bases:


Next base with bones soon, maybe even tomorrow:D




  1. Great idea!
    I'd never thought about getting owl's puke off Evil Bay ;)

  2. Dedication. I applaud your resolve.

  3. I did not think that I can be something to surprise! But! I am surprised and even shocked somewhere! Interesting idea with the bones and really grim! There is something from another world! The cold over the skin!
    My respect, lady!
    Sincerely yours!

  4. Ha! Great idea! Now wait for someone to say they don't look natural ;P

  5. Just saw your tutorial on tutofig. Ordered 6 pellets on ebay for 6 euro from france. Well I have to sterilize them myself, but I read on the internet, that means I just have to throw them into boiling water...so no prob at all. Thanks for the cool tutorial, after reading it I remembered that I heard a legend about Jeremie from Ben, that he was using such bones from pellets too. Sweeeeet thing!

  6. My cat left a mouse head behind so I put it under an upside down flower pot for a few months. There was then still some fur on it so I then soaked it for a week in mouthwash and disinfectant cleaner. This removed all remaining skin. I could have just used the skull as is for some scenic piece but I added putty as if some skin or fur remained and textured it with the mouth open. I'll coat it in PVA before I paint it.