Male deer shed their antlers every year starting around January, and grow new antlers in the spring. The antlers start out fuzzy and soft, and will bleed if cut. By fall, as a buck’s testosterone increases, the antlers become hard, like bone. By mid-winter, bucks start shedding their heavy burdens, and antlers can be discovered lying on the ground. You can tell if an antler was shed naturally by the “button” at the base of the antler. If it has a button, the antler was shed with no harm to the animal.
Now that you know all about deer antlers, we can get to the business of painting them. There is something about the contrast of the earthy hue and texture of an antler juxtaposed with the vibrant color of acrylic paint that is really exciting to look at. To be fair, antlers alone are pretty beautiful. And painted, they are startlingly lovely.
I am lucky to have to wildly generous people in my life. In addition to the antlers I picked up at the Montana Antique Mall, I was also given several antlers from friends.
The first antler I received was from a nomadic fellow who spends half the year hawking super tasty breakfast sandwiches at the Missoula Farmer’s Market, earning him enough dough to chill with his kid for the other six months of the year in Costa Rica. Pretty sweet! Despite his minimalist lifestyle he has carried this antler with him for years. I was honored to be given this shed, which is from a young moose. With its flat base, this antler was calling out to be reborn as a table centerpiece. With that in mind, it was the first one I painted.
First, I taped off the parts I didn’t want to paint. Then, I spray painted the antler on one side only, creating an ombre effect on the edges.
100% cruelty free upcycling at its finest!