modern cowboy design
ModernCowboyDesign.com (314) 769-9536 St. Louis, MO
The horns for our Sculptures derive from the family cattle ranch in Southern MO.
The horns are in rough shape when they are received. The core of a horn is made of bone. The bone grows from the skull through to the tip of the horn. The outer shell of a horn is made of keratin. Keratin is a tough, non-mineralized, structural protein. It is found most commonly in fingernails but is also a building block in claws, hair, feathers, and hooves. During its life, a thin layer of tissue connects the outer keratin shell of the horn to the bone. Upon death the loss of the tissue causes the outer shell to slip off the underlying bone.
We begin by removing many of the outer Keratin layers of the horn with hand sanders. Starting with 60 grit, and working our way down to 320 grit. This process removes the majority, but not all of the scratches and scars. Sometimes the scars must be left, so we do not jeopardize the structural integrity of the horn.
To get the horns to the final stage you see in the photos, we finish them by hand polishing them with Steel wool and 600 grit sand paper. This final honing process brings out the natural beauty, luster, shine and rich color pattern of the horn. We protect the horns by applying a protective polyurethane finish. Finishes on the horns can vary from high gloss to matte depending on the work.
The shape of the horns dictate the design of our sculptures, no two horns are exactly the same. They very in shape from spiral twists to almost straight. A pair of horns from one Longhorn can even point in completely different directions. As a result no two sculptures are exactly the same. We often will use 4 left side horns to create one sculpture and the other 4 horns from the right side to create a simular sculpture that twists in the opposite direction.
We use a variety of mediums to create the base for our sculptures. The most common is aged barn wood. But we also use Glass, Lucite, Cowhide upholstered wood boxes. A wood core is first fashioned to fit as a plug in each of the horns. The plug is then affixed to the horn with epoxy. This allows us to attach the horns to the base with screws or bolts, that make our sculptures structurally sound.