Artist's bone guns in international spotlight

Wellington artist Bruce Mahalski with his set of duelling pistols made from animal bones.
Wellington artist Bruce Mahalski with his set of duelling pistols made from animal bones.

A Wellington artist's macabre creation has attracted the interest of international media - but not as yet a bidder.

Artist Bruce Mahalski's set of duelling pistols, made out of individual animal bones, was listed on Trade Me earlier this week, where it was picked up by the US blogs iO9, Boing Boing and Animal New York.

The barrels are made of cat vertebrae and are headed with the skulls of a ferret and a black-backed gull.

Rabbit, sheep, hedgehog, tui, hawk and broad-billed prion bones also feature.

''These firearms are disconcerting enough to make any cat (or gull) lover on the warpath momentarily lose focus, furnishing you a morbid escape,'' wrote Cyriaque Lamar on iO9.

Mr Mahalski said he sourced and treated the bones himself.

''You spend a lot of time waiting for the right piece,'' he said.

''I know where all of these came from.''

After leaving them buried on the beach for a month, he boiled them, rather than bleaching or painting them, so as to retain their natural off-white colouring.

''What's not interesting is not the fact that this is a gun, but the white on white.
''There's something about bone. I'd just layer it if I could.''

The guns, complete with horses' teeth for ''spare bullets'' and presented in a custom upholstered case, were listed for $1500.

The auction closed on Wednesday with no bids, but more than 7000 page views.

Mr Mahalski said he had also received 11,000 hits to his new website.

As much interest as the piece had received, he said people were reluctant to make the investment.

''There's a resistance to buying them,'' he said. ''You've really got to see it in person.''

Although there was a market for such items overseas, he anticipated issues getting it past customs.

''You can't predict who's going to buy this stuff.

''Right now I'm putting that in the 'too hard' basket and hoping someone will pick them up locally.''

The gun is available to Trade Me watchers on a three-day fixed price offer, and Mr Mahalski said he would consider relisting it on the site if it did not sell.

The Dominion Post