Wednesday, March 13, 2013

3-D Printed Skull Replacement

I know, I know, everyone in the world has probably already seen this. Even people who aren't interested in skulls. But I'm trying to update this blog more regularly, and I'm starting by going through some links I emailed myself.

So. An unnamed patient in the US had 75 percent of his skull replaced by a 3-D printed prosthetic, according to (via Engadget, via Gizmodo).

In case you're confused -- as I was on first glance -- the prosthetic is the darker part. The rest of the plastic skull just shows how it fits. Which makes the whole thing slightly less exciting that if everything you see in the image is what was surgically inserted into the guy's head. Essentially, it's like a metal plate, except, well, plastic.

The article doesn't mention why the man needed so much of his skull replaced, only that the technology  allows Connecticut-based Oxford Performance Materials to produce custom prostheses "to replace bone damaged by disease or trauma." To get a custom piece, the patient's skull is first scanned by "a 3D scanner" (MRI, maybe?).

I vaguely remember reading another story some time ago about someone who had had his skull scanned and a 3-D printed version made. He didn't need it for a prosthesis, he just wanted something cool to have on his desk. I would love to have a plastic model of my own skull on my desk.

Image © Oxford Performance Materials.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Skulls Unlimited on National Geographic

The National Geographic Channel Website has a short video (apparently an excerpt from a series called Taboo) featuring the folks at Skulls Unlimited (I'd almost consider moving to the US of I could get a job there). This is not for the squeamish, so if you're bothered by decomposition, severed human heads, or dead things, don't watch.

I've never tried to embed a video before, so if this doesn't work, you can pop over to Nat Geog and watch it there.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Skeleton of the Dodo

Here's a shot of something in progress: it's a sketch for one of the illustrations in The Vanishing Bestiary (which I mentioned last post, though I may not have called it by its title).

Due to the assortment of reference photos and illustrations I was using, many of the them either very old, or rather low-res, or at a bad angle, there are some details I had to fudge a little and some that aren't as, well, detailed as I'd like. Ultimately, this will be a lino print, which won't hold s much detail as a drawing anyway, so it probably won't matter. On the other hand, I wouldn't mind finishing this as a drawing, too, and maybe even doing a non-fine-print version of The Vanishing Bestiary.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I am the Skeleton in my Closet

That post title doesn't really mean anything, I just thought it sounded amusing. I haven't got a proper post today, except to say I'm not actually dead and I am planning to start posting regularly again. For one thing, I've been doing some reading towards eventually getting back into working on revising and adding illustrations to my (now rather venerable) undergrad honours thesis on North American canid bones in archaeology. I even have access to most of a coyote skeleton to help me fill in some of the carpals and tarsals that were missing from the specimens I used to make the original illustrations. And I have a few more books to refer to so I can add species I wasn't able to cover before.

A second little update tidbit: I've started working (well, so far just in my head) on a bestiary that will be illustrated with skeletons. It'll be a fine-press, hand-printed and hand-bound thing and I hope to get started on a test illustration this weekend. You can read more about that on my art/writing/living in the woods blog Anagram for Ink.

Other than that, I am full of ideas and projects and things-to-do. I have a few more great resources to blog about and link, some books to review, and I really want to do some drawings of raven bones. In other words, I'm too busy for my own good.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


I just came across a great reference site for zooarchaeology that might be useful to skelephiles of other sorts. It's called Archeozoo, and it's available in English and French.

It's got news, articles, lists of collections, a forum and more. I haven't had the time to explore it in depth yet, but it looks like there's lots of great information. If you're a zooarchaeologist or in a related field, you can sign up to contribute your own articles as well.

It's starting to look like I need to create a links page, doesn't it . . .

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Bone Book Mystery

Some time ago, while I was still an art student, I acquired a few old library sign-out cards from the old days when you had to write your name on a card when you signed out a book, and when it was returned, you'd be crossed off and the card got stowed back in its pocked in the back of the book. I guess the library was tidying up and maybe converting the last few hold-outs to the barcode system. Anyway, they tossed things in a box for students to pick through, because poor art students make art of all kinds of things. Among the ones I got (more out of nostalgia than because I thought I'd actually make anything of them) is this one:

I was intrigued by the title, I think, but the card ended up in a box of miscellaneous things and vanished from my thoughts. I found it a couple of weeks ago, when looking for something else entirely, and decided to investigate. The book is:

Title: Bare Bones: An Exploration in Art and Science
Author: either L.B. Halstead or Beverley Halstead and Jennifer Middleton (perhaps cited differently in different editions?)
Publisher and date: Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1972 and Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973.
ISBN-10: 0050025147 (not sure which edition this goes to)
ISBN-13: 9780802019714 (again, not sure which edition to goes to)
Size: unknown dimensions, 119 pages

Naturally, this sounds like it's exactly my sort of book. So, now I'm going to track down a copy (ABE lists lots; it's just a matter of deciding which one is likely to be both cheap and in good shape--if it turns out to be a really great book I may look for a pristine copy later).

Stay tuned for an update and a review once I have a copy in my eager hands.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Bones With Bling" in Fortean Times

Via Morbid Anatomy (which you should be reading if you like the morbid, odd, and peculiar), there's an article in the Fortean Times on "the amazing jewelled skeletons of Europe," titled Bones with Bling.

I'm not likely to link to Fortean Times very often, but this is an interesting piece about a forgotten part of Catholic Christian history, when supposedly psychic priests would "discover" the bones of saints and martyrs which would then be lavishly decorated as relics. Of course, many of the skeletons had probably belonged to ordinary people--even pagans--but more saintly relics meant greater prestige for the Church and could mean increasing attendance (and therefore wealth) at smaller churches.

Whether these bones belonged to holy people or ordinary people, they certainly make beautiful displays.