By Harriet Whitehead
A ‘happy go lucky’ dad is carving out a new career – making jewellery from HUMAN BONES.
Sheikh Nasrullah’s grim collection of human remains are stored in his kitchen where he painstakingly crafts them into necklaces, rings and walking stick handles.
The dad of four, who said he’s always been into restoration and upcycling, started his new hobby six months ago and claims he’s offering something ‘unique’ to customers.
Admitting he has a vivid imagination and taste for the macabre, the 49-year-old is now selling his wares online to a community of goths, pagans and people interested in the occult.
Sheikh, from Dartford, Kent, said: “There’s not really that many people doing it in the UK.
“There are a lot of taxidermists and people who collect bones and human tissue but I’ve not come across many people who are making jewellery out of them.
“It’s quite a new thing. I’ve always been into building and restoring furniture and upcycling, cabinet making and that sort of thing.
“When I was at school I would draw quite macabre things so it’s always been of interest.
“I came across people who were collecting skulls and I found suppliers that had bones for sale.
“One of the first things I bought was a femur bone then I cut both ends off and made them into walking stick handles.
“I was left with the middle section then I thought what can I do with that?
“I cut them into segments and they were shaped like a polo mint so I thought I could make them into rings.
“It was a combination of artistic need – of wanting to create and make things – and thinking I could make some money.
“It started as a hobby but now I’ve started selling them. I make stuff and post pictures online and people will message asking to buy it.”
Sheikh works from his kitchen where he also keeps his collection of skulls, bone pendants, a lamp made out of a human spine and a skull cap which he uses as a bowl for his rhubarb and custard sweets.
He snaps up skulls from antique shops while the bones come from suppliers selling skeletons which were used by the medical profession.
In the UK bones can be privately owned but must not be displayed without a licence, according to the Human Tissue Authority.
Sheikh said his customers are mostly goths, pagans and people interested in the occult and witchcraft and come from across the world including America, Germany and Belgium.
Sheikh said: “I’ve never had anyone ask me to make a piece of jewellery out of one of their dead relatives.
“When I look at a bone I don’t see that it’s any different to an animal bone, I think when you’re gone you’re gone.
“If somebody wanted to make something out of my leg I would say ‘crack on’. It’s each to their own. I would never judge anybody.
“I do treat the bones with respect. I’m not flinging them around but I’m not working with them with any sort of reverence.
“I’m aware of what they are but I’m not wrapping them in cotton wool.
“It’s a bit of a unique selling point making it out of human bones rather than animal.
“People could get their hands on animal bones and carve something out of them but that would be too easy.
“When you’re using human bones it’s unique and you can command more of a price.
“I’m not a dark person at all, I’m not thinking about death when I’m making them.
“I’m a happy-go-lucky person, it’s more that there’s a market for it.”
Sheikh said people will often ask him to carve symbols into rings and pendants.
Former painter and decorator Sheikh said: “Some people will ask if I can carve a certain sigil into pieces. I’ve also had silver rings that I’ve moulded bones into.
“The last skull I bought was from an antique shop. There’s an artist in the US called Zane Wylie who carves real human skulls so I’m working on something similar at the moment.
“Doing this kind of work is the same feeling you get if you restore an old chest of drawers – you put new handles on it and decorate it and you get that feeling of satisfaction from making something especially if it turns out well.”
The sale of human remains is governed by the Human Tissue Act 2004 with the public display of human tissue subject to licensing by the Human Tissue Authority (HTA).
An HTA spokesman said it’s an offence to ‘engage in commercial dealings in controlled material which are removed from a human body for the purpose of transplantation, however the act is silent on the sale of bodies, body parts or tissue for other purposes and sales are outside the remit of the HTA’.
The HTA spokesman said: “If the bones are less than 100 years old and they are being displayed as part of the sale an HTA licence would be required as this would constitute public display.
“The public display of human tissue is an activity which is subject to licensing by the HTA and strict legal requirements relating to consent.
“This does not apply to the sharing of moving or still images, which are not covered by the Human Tissue Act 2004.
“A key principle of the HT Act is that all human bodies and materials of human origin within its scope should be treated with respect and dignity.”
He said the act does not contain a definition of public display but examples include events that are open to the public, static installations or exhibitions, as well as performance art or theatrical productions.
The spokesman said: “The legislative requirements of the HT Act do not apply to bodies or relevant material if more than 100 years have elapsed since the date of the person’s death.
“Consent is not, therefore, required for the public display of bodies or human material over 100 years old. Nor is a licence required.
“Bones under 100 years old can be owned privately without an HTA licence.
“Those involved in the sale or purchase of human bodies, body parts or tissue, and those who may host adverts for such sales (such as internet sites), may be subject to their own professional standards or other external requirements.”