November 26, 2008, - 11:16 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Some things you just gotta throw out.
But not Janet Haddad. Even the non-edible part of the turkey is turned into creepy toys and jewelry. It reminds me of Dr. Kevorkian’s art and something Jeffrey Dahmer might like as a Christmas gift. Gag. File Under “Thanksgiving Macabre.”
Although the Thanksgiving turkey may arrive at the holiday table as a culinary king, it leaves as a gristly carcass that some cooks can’t wait to ditch.
Janet Haddad wouldn’t dream of it. Through the years, the high-school teacher has saved dozens of discarded birds from the dump.
Known locally as “The Bone Lady,” she spends the rest of the year taking them apart and cleaning the individual bones. Then, she turns them into toys, jewelry and decorations. With a little paint, vertebrae become place-card holders. Dyed neck bones adorned with tiny plastic eyes are transformed into quirky dragonlike creatures.
“Most people have the turkey to eat, and that’s it,” says Mrs. Haddad, a 51-year-old with spiky blonde hair. “When I sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, I see so much more.”
In the days after the feast, her freezer inevitably gets stuffed, albeit not with leftover white meat.
Knowing of Mrs. Haddad’s work, friends and family in this rural area north of Allentown, Pa., bring her the turkey carcasses from their own tables, along with the bones of assorted other dead animals found in the woods or by the roadside. When the weather is cold, they leave the goodies in garbage bags on the front porch. . . .
No one knows how many artisans like Mrs. Haddad search Thanksgiving remains for such treasure. Some turkey-bone aficionados are hesitant to advertise their endeavors, fearing others will think the whole idea gross.
Sharon Hauser, a retired medical technologist from San Jose, Calif., got a little taste of that last December when she posted a picture of a holiday ornament she’d made on Instructables.com, a how-to Web site. “No offense,” one viewer responded, “but who would hang turkey vertebrae from a Christmas tree?”
Eugene von Bruenchenhein, now relatively famous as turkey-bone artists go, didn’t get much respect or notice during his lifetime. The eccentric Milwaukeean used turkey and chicken bones to create intricate miniature towers and elaborate little thrones.
Museums and galleries didn’t begin buying Mr. von Bruenchenhein’s work until after his death in 1983. These days, the thrones are estimated to be worth up to $10,000 each, and the towers — if you can find one — as much as $70,000, according to Carl Hammer, a Chicago gallery owner that has sold some of the pieces. . . .
Always fascinated with skeletons, Mrs. Haddad, the Pennsylvanian, began dragging home roadkill and asking her parents to save turkey carcasses when she was a teenager. . . .
Mr. Haddad thinks a turning point was the passing . . . of one of their pigs, which dropped dead after apparently eating part of a poisoned rat. With his wife out of town, Mr. Haddad hauled the porcine stiff to a remote area in the woods behind the family’s home. When he went back many months later, nature had taken its course.
After he mentioned the skeleton’s impressive bone structure to his wife in passing, she promptly hiked to the site and began taking it apart, bone by bone.
So that Mr. Haddad doesn’t get surprised while searching for frozen soup or vegetables, he insists that his wife label her bagged carcasses before putting them in the freezer.
From pigs, Mrs. Haddad diversified into deer, groundhogs, rats and snapping turtles. But most of all, she fell in love with turkeys, which the family also began raising on their farm. . . .
“I think I would be most proud,” she says, “if people would make something from me after I’m gone.”
GUH-ROSS! I’m a crafty person and am all for creativity. But this is just ridiculous, as is her final wish.
There are just some things–actually, most things–about the green movement that are disgusting, and this is one of ’em. Garbage dumps and waste are under-rated.
View the Slideshow of this creepy “art”.