BRANDON, Man. — Buffalo skulls long saved from her father’s herd became a unique canvas for Kathleen Jenson of Churchbridge, Sask.
The artist and single mother of two could immediately imagine what she’d do with them.
She recently showcased her skull designs at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair in Brandon.
She carves an assortment of designs into the buffalo skulls while also carving unique one-of-a-kind pendants from the outer horn cap. The pendants are natural in colour and texture with no added polish.
“When I saw carved elk and moose antlers, it inspired me to try carving the bison skulls and horns to create a piece of artwork. I had not seen a carved bison skull previously and love to create things that are different,” said Jensen.
Most skulls are cleaned naturally through weathering, but a few have to be scraped or soaked in peroxide.
“When I go to carve a skull, I visualize the image I will carve on it and where it should be placed. Then I draw the image on the skull before I start to work, carving with a small bit in my dremel, carving a light outline as the pencil will smudge.”
From there, she picks the appropriate bit and starts working on the depth and shapes she wants.
“Once the carving is complete, I start colouring by stain and then sand it off as then all the high parts pop and depth is visible. If the skull has horn caps, I will sand them down and paint them or oil them for a natural shine.”
Besides carving, Jenson likes to do pointillism, which involves making an image only using dots. She loves to do pencil images and portraits.
Jensen works with her father at Yellowhead Traders, which trades in used heavy truck parts and does repairs.
She also raises and trains horses, keeps eight Gypsies, three crosses and a Quarter on Sunset Ridge Gypsy Horse Ranch.
She was drawn to the Gypsy breed because of its rareness and uniqueness.
“The temperament of the Gypsy horse is the number one thing about them. They are called the Golden Retriever of the horse world or a people-sized draft,” said Jenson, who lives on the Sunset Ridge Gypsy Horse Ranch.
Her horses are carefully selected to breed to retain the traditional Gypsy horse traits and create a more docile work/pleasure horse.
She took her stallion, Firecracker, to the fair in Brandon, where she showed how he smiles, lays down, sits, steps up, salutes, shakes his head and rears.
“We told visitors to the fair how amazingly docile these horses are, where they came from and that they had only been in Canada 20 years,” she said.
“I rode him bareback with just a halter to show how even a stallion of that breed is well mannered and well behaved,” said Jenson.